4 Reasons Execs Fear Tech Teams

1.) They speak a different language 

The background of most business executives lies in, you guessed it, business. Their education and experiences are not built around technical concepts and vocabulary. Tech teams have spent years learning a vernacular that is difficult to understand without the experience of a technical education and/or of being in the development trenches. Not being able to truly understand why a project will be late or if an obstacle was avoidable can be very intimidating and frustrating for business executives.
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Excuse Me?

We’ve all been in situations where a person we work with (or heaven forbid, for) behaves irrationally. Whether it’s due to intense anger, stress or sadness, emotions can cause a person to say things that are at best inappropriate and at worst downright offensive. The beautiful thing about people acting irrationally is that barring a complete break down or true underlying mental condition, it is usually a result of emotions causing a delay to the brain’s mechanism for preventing outlandish behavior or offensive statements.
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Your Company’s Secret Civil War

A secret conflict has been occurring within businesses, both great and small, for at least the last 30 years. This ongoing battle has resulted in the loss of billions of dollars, thousands of employees and countless opportunities. Business executives responsible for determining company direction, identifying business objectives and creating high-level attack plans sit on one side of the table. Software professionals (both managers and developers) responsible for executing technical development and delivering a final product sit on the other. With both sides of the equation covered for generating business success with technical initiatives, where is the struggle?
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STARE: The Secret to Maximizing the ROI of Your Technical Initiatives

Consider a “bizarro world” in which healthcare works a bit differently. When a person feels pain or illness, they go to the hospital to seek treatment. The difference is that in this world, the person is responsible for creating their own treatment plan without the help of onsite doctors. For instance, I feel a horrible sharp pain in my right side and decide to fire up WebMD. I determine that this is probably caused by appendicitis, which would call for an appendectomy. I head to the hospital and order an appendectomy off the menu for $20,000. A surgeon performs the procedure, patches me up and sends me away.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have appendicitis. What I had was a pulled abdominal muscle as a result of my heavy strength training. While I’m apparently much more focused on not being a weakling in this bizzaro world, I’ve actually reduced my overall quality of life by having an unnecessary, expensive procedure because I did not possess the depth of medical knowledge necessary to put together a sound treatment plan. Additionally, with no doctor to support my recovery and no way of learning from my mistake, there’s a great chance I’ll continue to reduce my quality of life and net worth with ineffective procedures. You would have to be a lunatic to believe that this is how healthcare should work.
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Titles Are Dumb: Roles Are Where It’s At

President, Chief Officer, VP, Chairman, Director, Senior, Junior, Manager: the list of titles goes on and on and on. I have to believe, lest I collapse under the weight of my own cynicism, that at one point in time these titles carried distinct meanings that precisely defined the role of the bestowed. The connection of role dictating title is what made the use of titles effective and led to their adoption.

Somewhere down the line, this connection seems to have been lost.
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Security-by-Design: Do It Right the First Time

Last year saw a staggering number of high-profile data breaches ranging from the embarrassing (Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton and the many other celebrities who were hacked via iCloud) to the destructive (Home Depot, Sony Pictures and various other companies that spilled tens of thousands of credit card numbers, social security numbers and other personal information). There were so many hacks that made the headlines that Forbes (and a bunch of other media outlets) even named 2014 “The Year of The Data Breach.” Anybody in the cybersecurity industry worth their salt knows it’s probably going to get worse. Why? Because, for the most part, people think of security as an afterthought: something you bolt on to your software product like you’d attach a padlock to a fence. That simply is not good enough (as we’ve seen).

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Your Digital Data is the Most Precious Wasted Company Asset

Think about all of the different systems that companies currently use for sales, product planning, research and development, scheduling, human resources, manufacturing and other operations. Not so long ago all of these tasks were done via paper-based processes. Keeping track of the state of each operation was extremely laborious to the extent that it required multiple full-time employees to enter, report and analyze company data. These processes also took an extended amount of time, making near-real time status profiling of a company a pipe dream. But today a significant portion of each company’s data is digitized and these problems have been solved, right? [Read more…]

7 Deadly Leadership Sins

Whether you’re trying to lead a software company or a football team, leadership is not nearly as complicated as it’s made out to be. There is a single underlying trait that must be present for a person to be a good leader of a company or cause: selflessness. If the leader is not willing to completely put the success of the company ahead of their own professional preservation and success, then he/she cannot lead efficiently. [Read more…]

Honesty in the Workplace: Don’t Spin to Win

Effective communication usually ranks among the top three aspects of successful companies. Clear communication allows all employees to be on the same page, move as a team and react faster to both problems and opportunities. However, there is a silent communication killer lurking to destroy any hope of reaping the benefits associated with clear communication. In some organizations, this communication cancer is not only allowed, but even celebrated. I’m talking about the horror that is “spin.” [Read more…]

Maximum Fun On Investment (FOI): How to Attract the Best Engineers

To love what you do and feel that it matters—how could anything be more fun?”

–Katharine Graham

This quote, by Katharine Graham while serving as the chairman of the board for the Washington Post Company in the 1970s, has had a profound impact on my point of view as both a manager and employee. I have to credit my glorious mother for exposing me to it with great regularity, given that it serves as her email signature. While the quote could easily be misfiled under the category of “trite inspirational nonsense” — the type which routinely gets plastered in white lettering on black motivational posters — there is a considerable amount of wisdom imparted by Mrs. Graham that is paramount to attracting the best talent. 

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