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Your technology strategy stinks!

How many times have you seen software engineers bail from an organization because the technology strategy stank? Why do they feel distanced from the executive leadership determining the technology strategy? Because, in their perception, that strategy will destroy value, not create it. This chasm between those who set the strategy and those who execute it is a major factor in company competitiveness.

Don’t get me wrong. CTOs cannot manage strategy by popular vote. Nor should they be insecure about whether the employees like the strategy. Of course technology executives have the right to chart their path forward; it’s part of their commission! But boards and CEOs MUST select technology executives that understand what technology strategy is.

What Technology Strategy IS

Technology strategy IS an organization’s overall plan which consist of objectives, principles and tactics relating to use of the technologies within a particular organization.

What Technology Strategy ISN’T

Technology strategy is NOT simply deciding which hardware or software to buy. That’s basic decision making and managerial accounting. Selecting technologies is an important output of technology strategic planning, but there’s more to it than that.

For example, you could look at the cost of a cloud solution vs. keeping things on in-house servers. You could easily make a decision based on which costs less or takes less time. But since such a decision is made in isolation of objectives, principles, and tactics, is it really a strategy? If it is, it’s a poor one.

What’s an objective? Reducing year-over-year technology maintenance spend by 20%. Shortening delivery times by 30%.

What is a principle? Adopting a cloud solution will save us money on maintaining internal servers. Investing in back-end services will shorten our time to deliver new products, allowing us to easily plug new features into existing services.

What is a tactic? Let’s implement cloud solution A to accomplish X. Let’s build service B to accomplish Y.

When a technology strategy is void of these elements, it’s either a poor strategy or not a strategy at all… and it’s obvious to the engineers. They see it. And they vote with their feet.

A good strategy speaks for itself. Engineers can get behind it. It’s exciting. It delivers value.

If you’re worried about retention, revisit  your strategy. Ask yourself:

  • Does our technology strategy really support our business objectives? Where will it lead in the long term? Will it shorten our delivery times or lengthen them?
  • Does it create value or destroy value?
  • Will this give us more flexibility?

And even though the technology exec has the right to determine the strategy, it doesn’t hurt to be aware of how engineers perceive it.

If your strategy does stink and your business success is in jeopardy, please contact me. Let’s fix the situation now!