December 4, 2023

Stephen S. Hao Ho Chairman and CEO Newfire Global Partners.

Software engineering is about solving problems. Every engineer knows the thrill of just writing code Works It solves an intractable problem. The best solutions are used and reused to meet the relevant challenges; We call them “patterns” and they are the building blocks of successful software.

Of course, not every piece of code “just works”. Many strategies a look It is reasonable, and it is used extensively, but it constantly ends up malfunctioning or causing additional problems down the line. We call these improper practicesAnti PatternsProgrammers learn the importance of avoiding them at all costs.

The concept of anti-patterns is not only useful to engineers. In the past few years, I’ve been called upon to help many tech companies, and I’ve seen that some business leaders, just like junior programmers, often repeat the same basic mistakes. It turns out that technical leadership also has obvious opposite patterns. By recognizing and avoiding them, we can build a successful business more effectively.

Here are five counter patterns every tech leader should know.

1. Your CEO is not talking.

Once upon a time, tech founders were mostly geeks who built products in their garage, then fumbled in the process of assembling work around them. Today, many companies are leaning in the opposite direction: the CEO is essentially a business operator, not a tech expert.

Theres nothing wrong with that. But just as your CEO needs to be able to have intelligent conversations about balance sheets and sales pipelines, he should also be able to have serious, detailed conversations about the nuts and bolts of their products.

Unless your CEO can do the talking, they can’t scrutinize, supervise, or inspire their engineers. They also won’t really understand what makes your product great, leaving your company blind.

2. The chief technology officer does not walk in this field.

With CEOs increasingly focusing on operations, CEOs are taking on larger roles when it comes to product direction and strategy formation. Again, this isn’t bad, but it does create a critical point of failure if the chief tech isn’t at the job level.

Many companies want their chief executives to have insights who can drive product design in incredible new directions. Of course, vision is a huge part of the job description, but a good CTO must also be proficient in business and able to work to align your product with the needs of your sales, marketing, and customer success teams.

Senior executives are translators who are able to bridge the gap between technical and non-technical stakeholders. They are also adept operators and are able to ‘manage’ to ensure that their CEO understands the technical issues.

3. Nobody is at the wheel.

Many tech companies are derailed because their leaders don’t really understand who is doing what. This is certain from the top down: Teams start building without understanding what is needed, managers fail to hold teams accountable and CEOs issue directives that don’t lead to action.

It’s amazing how often I see companies realize, two weeks before a planned product launch, that they are months or even years behind schedule. In these situations, technical leadership looks like Maggie Simpson driving—The wheel spins and the horn sounds, but it doesn’t control where the car actually goes.

The key here is to realize that control begins with awareness. Only when leaders know what’s possible, what the problem is and what promises (or not) are being kept, can they take charge of guiding their company in the right direction.

4. You cannot predict the future.

Effective forecasting is the key to running any business. If you lack tactical awareness of the current situation, you necessarily lack strategic awareness, which makes it impossible to plan ahead. Technology leaders who miss this are in a very bad position because today’s work must always be in the service of tomorrow’s goals.

The goal is to act as a military general, understand and control the battlefield and move your units to where they need to be in order to win the war. This is only possible, if you clearly understand where your team is now and where they will be tomorrow.

If you miss both pieces, you may be doomed to be reactive rather than proactive – a backward military historian rather than the forward-looking general who wins the war.

5. Product management is MIA.

Finally, failed organizations ignore product management. This may be surprising, given how proud tech companies are about their products, but many wrongly assume that engineers (who are not outward-facing) or sales/support (who lack technical expertise) serve the product management role.

This is a counter-pattern because product management must be a special interstitial tissue that connects each person in the organization. Instead of just saying “no” to competing priorities, product managers should bring everyone — sales, marketing, customer support, engineers, even customer advisors — together for regular orientation meetings.

By letting everyone scream, you help stakeholders understand how their needs are interconnected. A sense of shared mission helps people understand why their priorities sometimes need to take a back seat while allowing them to report missing pieces that are really important to the task.

You won’t make everyone happy, but you will end up with a product that everyone on your team can truly be proud of.

The power of anti-patterns

There are a number of how-to guides and management folders that will tell you the right way to run your business. But, as engineers have learned, it is also important that any major project begins with a clear understanding of tactics and strategies it’s not It will probably work fine. As business leaders, we need to spend more time studying these points of failure and thinking about how improper business practices can backfire.

If any of the counter-patterns I described sound familiar, take a moment and consider if you took a wrong turn. Even when you do everything right, growing a tech business is tough. So pay attention to counter-patterns and eliminate improper business operations that will cause other problems in the future.

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