Or is it just that they don’t understand business?
Techies want to focus on what they know instead of what your business needs, and this is one of the most difficult problems businesses are facing with their technical team members, not just engineers.
Technical people were taught about technology, features, formulas, tools, processes. but not much about business acumen. Business acumen can be summed up as being able to think like a business person instead of an employee. Being able to think about how to add business value, and think in terms of business. not just software features and processes. So, they stick with what they know best to the detriment of the business, your business. So how do we fix that?
Companies are creating training plans that encourage entrepreneurial thinking, business thinking, and partnership between business and technical sides of the organization. What makes this tough is that this type of training must be practical and hands on. Otherwise, it will become itself just a theoretical endeavor. While organizations need it to work in a practical manner.
Techies might think they are working solo
Another complication to this is that engineers themselves do not see this shortcoming in their thinking, even though it is easy to prove. Ask any engineer or programmer, and they will tell you about the agony they go through trying to explain to business any technical concept. If a technical person has business acumen, it will become easy for them to turn any technical or complicated concept into something a business person can understand.
Another sign of this problem is how technical people want to immediately start talking about “what tools and methodologies are out there?”, instead of thinking about what exactly is the business need. They will quickly roll their eyes at the unrealistic requests from business. This is a problem, because they need to understand that technology, processes, and even experts, are all there to create value for the organization and its stakeholders, including customers, society, shareholders, and teams.
So, what can organizations do to “untie” their technical people from the technical thinking, and move them to business thinking? Here are my top three recommendations:
Top three recommendations to change Techie-Mindset to Business-Mindset
- People Analytics: Help Techies understand their own performance style, and how it contributes to the performance style of the collective organization. They need to see how their technical behavior affects the company, and how we all need to focus on team synergy, and business value, instead of focusing on technical know-how.
- Strategic Thinking: Most technical people are stuck with firefighting on daily basis, and never have time to think strategically. Most of them think that strategic thinking is something for executives, and the rest of the company need to think about daily work. This is wrong, and requires a paradigm shift so the whole organization can think strategically.
- Focusing on “Position Contracts” and Key Result Areas per department and team member, instead of focusing on job descriptions and overall KPIs that no one is held accountable for except at top levels. Position contracts allows the organization to hold every member accountable for business results, not just technical results.