I work with a large number of technologists, I build a lead teams working at significant global scale, solving problems with technology.
If you are outside of this world, it’s easy to get lost. Why is it so hard? What’s going on? Why does it take so long?
The exciting thing about technologists, and about software, is that they are constantly involved in a creative endeavour. It’s a cross between science and art, with a whole load of emotional and personal considerations thrown into the mix.
Think about how hard it can be to build a house. A dozen trades, maybe more. They follow a plan, but flex from it when difficulties arise. It’s creating something from nothing, but you’re probably following a pretty standard path. You know houses, you can see them. They’ll be used by a well known number of people, in a standard way. It’s pretty predictable, but there are still difficulties, overruns and variations from the plan.
When we’re building software, we have some of that certainty, but not the majority. We may not be sure what the problem is we’re solving. Will it be used by ten people or ten million? Who’s going to try and break it, and what if we get half-way done and decide to do something else?
If you are leading a tech team for the first team, part of a digital transformation or an agile experiment, it can be bewildering. Engineers, computers and logic suggest predictability, certainty and rigid planning.
Instead, stop and reflect. If it’s worth creating a new technologic solution, then it’s novel, unique and new. You can’t plan to the day, but you must let the creative process occur. Set goals, go after outcomes. Figure out ways to launch early to learn, then course correct.
Don’t look for perfect. No art is perfect. It’s done, and it’s out in the world, changing people and bringing joy.
Set expectations like this, and you’ll be an exceptional technical leader. You’ll empower people, bring real change to the world and never waste time search for misplaced certainty.