The Focus of a Smooth-Running Technology Organisation

A couple of months ago I wrote about What Technology Leadership Means To Me, describing my journey during 2020. But what does the current state of our technology organisation look like?

A Focus on Our Clients’ Goals

Our philosophy is to co-create digital products with our clients by solving problems in a way which makes sense for them. Of course, we expect our engineers have exceptional technical skills, that’s a given, but on top of this we expect them to understand how to analyse the business requirements and look for an optimal solution. Writing code isn’t always the best way to solve a problem given the constraints on budget, time, etc.

Our engineers now often hear me ask “why?” when they share a plan. I really want to make sure they know why the customer needs the feature, because that way we have the opportunity to provide real value in the form of a better solution. Our vision is not to be a dev shop which simply churns out work on a client’s request, but to partner with them to achieve their goals. We have a wealth of technology experience in our team, which should augment our client team’s business knowledge.

A Focus on Ownership

Each team member owns their work now, it is not “fed” to them by a project/product manager. Before the PM would gather requirements and even break down the work into tasks, and the engineer could feel they had succeeded by simply checking off the work assigned to them. Not anymore, now our team agree acceptance criteria with the PM / client, and are responsible for delivering on these within the time, budget and other constraints defined; or communicating that it isn’t possible so we can have a conversation around it. This principle comes from the excellent Shape Up book by Ryan Singer of BaseCamp.

We have also recently switched our Agile methodology from Scrum to Kanban across the company. The focus here was on reducing the overhead of agile ceremonies and more closely modelling our methodology to how we are actually work (before we said we were working in Sprints, but that was not the reality). This has shifted the focus of the team on delivery (always take the task closest to the finish line) and improved the efficiency of work (no need to wait for a PM to assign work, just pick the highest priority available task).

A Focus on Team

As a service-based business, our company is all about people. And that’s where our focus should be.

Our conversations are now around how we can best support our people to grow, a 180 degree shift away from the previous conversations around what was wrong. A breakdown is now an opportunity to learn, our leaders have developed a keen ear for opportunities in this department, and best of all it happens without me even being involved.

I’m delighted that our engineering leads (shout out to Nelson and Oscar!) are proactively working with their teams to produce better products and websites, and most importantly investing in their team’s growth.

A Focus on Strategy

These changes have freed up my time to focus more on the strategic direction of our technology. I am working on such things as structured career / training paths and new technologies we can experiment with adopting. On a personal level, I am also starting to explore how to expand my leadership beyond the team and into Mexico and the tech industry globally.

Let’s launch something!