Strategy & Consulting

Solutions To Common Anti-Patterns A Tech Leader May Face

April 16, 2018

Stuart Arthur

Chief Technology Officer

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Big ambitions but no budget or commitment to match

  • Due diligence prior to taking on a role or contract
  • Set clear expectations about tech budget / resources / hiring
  • Clear roadmap scenarios based on budget / resources / hiring
  • Escalate and highlight the promise versus current commitment

Stifled by fear from top execs and committees

  • Need to shield the team from these politics
  • Appoint someone who gets it to represent the team at board/committee level
  • Build confidence through customer feedback and traction
  • Keep the group onside and build more support / momentum inside the org

The ‘old guard’ blocking change

  • Endeavour to get to know the people blocking
  • Build an understanding of their motive
  • Try to move forward with support but move forward regardless
  • Create buy-in and support from more senior stakeholders / execs

Wooly and fluffy directions and desires from top execs

  • Involve top execs in co-creation of roadmaps
  • Ask direction questions that can be turned into SMART goals
  • Create story maps based on discussions and get sign-off
  • Keep the top execs closely involved during planning / review sessions

Perfectionism halting delivery

  • Explain the lean startup approach
  • Build a startup mentally and culture
  • Aim for quality and to solve challenges but to ‘test’ assumptions
  • Focus on solutions to problems not details of graphics / UI

Siloed ops and delivery (or other) functions

  • Establish metrics e.g. time from done to release is 6 weeks
  • Present systems issues and business impact to stakeholders
  • Run a trial with Ops engineers in product/agile team
  • Review new time from done to release

Agile teams being crippled by traditional management practices and business models

  • Highlight agile as a business imperative
  • Link it into any existing lean / continuous improvement activities
  • Start with small trials to gain some traction and facts
  • Bring ‘the business’ into the product/agile teams as sponsors (one team)

Uninformed non-technical committees driving technology decisions

  • Establish a technology strategy board (mixture of business and technical stakeholders)
  • Ensure that sign-off of new tech cannot be achieved without tech sign-off
  • Empower teams to have the power to make or inform tech choices
  • Build a clear tech roadmap that is signed off but can be evolved

Desire from execs for detailed estimates and costs for uncertain domains

  • Provide some stats about inaccuracies of traditional estimation techniques
  • Utilise forecasting techniques i.e. track cycle time, no. stories done over time
  • Use budgets as a constraint to solve a particular challenge
  • Break large programmes down into smaller deliveries to test assumption / market
  • Deliver consistently little and often and the requests may stop

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