So we’ve entered 2016, 16 years after the millennium and four years after the presumed end of the world (Thanks Mayans – now what am I going to do with all those cans of tomato soup?). Yes, we live in an exciting time. You can give Maria at the office those files she’s been asking for while chatting with LeBron James, all in the comfort of your queen-sized bed.
Much of what we do and what we purchase can be done before our first cup of coffee. Have no clean clothes? Having a bad hair day? Fear not! It’s 2016, and as long as you have a computer, you probably won’t need to leave your house.
This reality has exponentially increased the demand for software developers over that last decade. Technology leaders are churning out software solutions faster than you can say “app.”
That brings us to the Chief Technology Officer (CTO). How important is this position? Well, for a technology-heavy company, it very well could be the most important executive roll. The CTO has to answer the question of future. How do we stay relevant? How do we stay ahead of the technology game? How are we going to win the innovation race? How on earth are we going to get this done on time? This is all on the CTO’s shoulders.
Warren Gedge, CTO of Resolver Inc. has been at the software development game since 1997, and over his 19-year journey, he’s been a part of the growth and development of nearly a dozen companies. As a result, we asked Gedge a few burning questions that are challenging many CTOs today…
How do you as the CTO come to a decision with your software? What advice do you have for those who are facing a roadblock or having a hard time developing a strategy?
“I find that most companies or most CTOs are followers and I don’t think they actually listen to what the consumer is doing or watch where the market is going. But if you focus on keeping customers happy and finding out what they actually need versus what your competitors or doing, then you can bring yourself ahead of the crowd and make some real innovation.”
“It starts at the customer and it comes down to what can you do with the data, what can you do with the customer, and what do they really need and want? Not just today, but beyond.”
“If you do market research, you are going to follow somebody and following somebody isn’t going to help you achieve what you want to do, but by doing customer research, you can beet the pack.”
How do you manage and monitor your team? What advice can you offer someone who is struggling with management?
“I find that most companies like to ram in Scrum and Agile. Scrums are not supposed to be deadline driven, they are supposed to allow for communication. So typically what I’ve done is take my team from scrum to Kanban.
With Kanban, you can hold people to their word. It’s not time based, it’s word based and that allows you to give your employees pride and allows you to give a measureable deliverable that you can actually tie your employees to.”
In a time when software developers are in higher demand than ever, how do you retain ‘superstar’ employees?
“I’ve never had that problem. I have people leave their companies to come work for us.”
“I don’t look after just the superstars, I looks after the whole staff and I run with transparency and respect – I give people a say. I don’t believe in a hierarchal structure, we have more of an ‘everyone plays a part in our machine and we all need the machine to move forward to keep the customer happy.'”
“I don’t think it’s a good thing to try to retain the context of fear, it’s better to think ‘how do I make my employees feel valued?’
What has been your biggest triumph with Resolver Inc. and how do you attribute that?
“I don’t know if I can call it a triumph… Our revenues are growing, our customers are giving us more money and they are smiling more, hungry for more.”
“I like to see our customers happy, I like to see them smile. I don’t think the customer is always right, but they should generally like what they are doing.”
“Too many people hear but they don’t listen, or they listen but they don’t apply. Customers don’t want to be told what to do, they want to be listened to.”
What’s your biggest advice for a young / new CTO?
“Hire thinkers, be transparent with them and work with them to move things forward.”