As snowflakes fall, I can't help but feel concerned that many companies are still caught up in the old IT mindset when it comes to technology. Instead of seeing it as a gift with untapped potential, they view it as a necessary cost. It's like mistletoe hanging between Business and IT, creating a separation like a wall. Business treats IT as a service, tossing problems over the wall like presents in need of unwrapping. The magic of a common goal, alignment, and the need to collaborate as one unit is often missing.
This Christmas, let's wrap our minds around the idea that there's no "Business" and "IT" — it's all about "our business"!
Another concern tugging at my festive sweater is the lack of coaching for our development teams. It's as if our managers are too busy decking the halls with administrative work or focusing solely on the numbers, neglecting the need for coaching. Imagine watching a football match and only focusing on the scoreboard, not the players on the field. That's how some managers are approaching development teams. They don't see the teamwork or the need for coaching, resulting in dysfunctional teams, lost players on the field, and a chaotic match.
Regrettably, some companies lack a clear product vision, and the ones that do exist are like uninspiring holiday decorations. Perhaps they had a vision in the early years, but like a string of lights, it fades after the 'founders' depart.
It feels like many developers are stuck in a "feature factory," disconnected from meaningful responsibility. Teams struggle to make progress without relying on changes from other teams, like ornaments on different branches of the organizational tree. High-performance organizations understand that teams need to be part of the whole value stream, from the idea stage to the end customers and beyond.
For companies without a clear product strategy, it's like trying to satisfy as many stakeholders as possible with limited holiday cookies. The relationship between development teams and the rest of the business is far from ideal. Stakeholders and managers don't trust the development teams, treating them like hired elves instead of valued contributors. Product Owners/Managers become project managers, merely managing the backlog throughout the process. As developers, they're left with the narrow role of designing and coding features, leading to low motivation and minimal ownership. True innovation becomes as rare as finding a present under the tree on New Year's Day.
To survive the digital age, let's understand that IT is the shining star of our core business. It's time to shift from project thinking (with a fixed budget and an end) to a more product-oriented mindset. Like a timeless holiday classic, there's no end to the product journey — only when the business itself comes to a close. I remember helping a company 15 years ago, and 15 years later, they sought my assistance again. They asked, "When are we done?" I replied, "I was here 15 years ago helping you with the same product. Now, 15 years later, you want my help again. Please answer this: Will this product still be part of an important lineup needed to run your business in 10 years?" They said, "Yes!" In that case, I said, there is no end — we are never done. Just like the joy of the season, the journey continues!