Thought 7: Delivering technology is complex…. So have an open mind, ask questions and experiment

You are on track to delivering exciting new technology capability for your business.

You have been working your team hard to build the capability – develop the software, stand up the infrastructure, test the integrated solution, validate the security.  The list goes on. 

You have drawn on your experience and best practice to deliver quality.  And you can see the end in sight.  How confident are you that your product will actually be used?  The way you have designed it?

Delivering new technology successfully calls for more than technology expertise – it all about how you work with people across business and technology domains in your organisation and how much you know about the people who will use your product.  This stuff is “complex” and it pays to keep an open mind, be curious and ask lots of questions.  Because when complexity is involved, the system is not predictable and it is not possible to have foresight.  It is only with hindsight that you can see which decisions worked.

So don’t be afraid to try small experiments throughout the project. Experiments that optimise your decision making - whether they “succeed or fail”.  Experiments that are low cost – even thought experiments or scenario testing that can reveal your unknown assumptions or unconscious biases about how people relate to the system you are working with.  You may not need to “build” anything. 

Better to find out early that the design needs to be changed rather than waiting until delivery and a less than successful result.   

Thought 5: Intent and Impact - Pause before you react

Someone has startled you.  What it something they said or did?  Did you feel the shot of adrenaline through your body?  Your heart beat pick up?  Did you catch your emotions as they rose up?  The shock, the fear, the anger?  Where are you feeling it in your body?  The pit of your stomach?  The tension in your shoulders?  

When this happens, before we know it we have reacted: we may have fled the scene, or we may have shouted, or we may have blamed someone.

Better to become aware of this as it happens and pause if you can – take a breath, centre yourself and turn to gaze gently at the person.  Calmly ask a question to discover whether the impact on you is what was intended.  Most often it is not, and it is better to seek clarification before reacting.

Thought 3: Delivering disruptive technology

We are often being asked to do more with less in timeframes that you wouldn’t think were possible.  How do you do it?   Through your people.

Cultivate a team culture where every team member can contribute their best to the project every day – their drive to succeed, their technical knowledge and skills, and their team building capabilities.  Invite your team to share proposals to deliver the project - backed with evidence. Embrace a passion to learn and be always learning, by being open to feedback from others and sharing your views. 

Also key is self knowledge.  You need to know where your limits are.  You need to know when you have moved from a challenge zone to a “too much” zone and stayed for too long, and need to step back to maintain your productivity - getting enough sleep is 101.  Teams and people that burn out don’t achieve their goals. 

Thought 2: Why I stayed so long?

I worked in the Australian Public Service for over 25 years, and when I left recently people asked “Why did I leave?”.  For me the real question is “Why had I stayed so long?”.

And as I look back I realise that I stayed because the Service offered a professional work place where I could use and grow my technical and “soft” skills, and it provided challenge and meaning through working with others to deliver government services for Australians through innovative technology.  On top of that I had a couple of truly brilliant managers who believed in growing their people and was fortunate to work alongside fantastic teams of committed and skilled technology professionals. 

Sure it was not all roses.  There were times when it was really hard.  I was stretched delivering business technology change in ambitious timelines and building collaboration across silos.  Yet these were the situations where I learnt the most:  about how to build team cultures where people can offer their best and lead complex change at scale.  I learnt alot about myself - what matters most to me and about how important it is to set boundaries to protect my health, to be there for my family and friends, and to foster my own creativity.

These stretch opportunities are gold – seize them if they come your way.  They will help you find your voice.

Thought 1: Why share thoughts?

Regularly making time to reflect and share your thoughts with others is one way to hone your leadership skills.  Too often we are so busy "doing stuff" that we don’t take time to step back and think deeply about the things that matter.

This year I am embarking on a project to share my thoughts about leadership in snippets of around 200 words.  Brief reflections on topics that are arising from my work with my clients and conversations with colleagues.  Insights into the latest research about how to deliver complex technology-driven change sustainably in a disruptive world.  And the importance of investing in adult development in organisations that seek to excel.

I invite you to join me in these conversations by subscribing at the right sidebar. 

I wish you well! 

kind regards

Alaine