Would you work at a company like this?

Buy this book here: http://www.amazon.ca/100-Days-judgement-killed-Nortel-ebook/dp/B00CD36GL4

Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 10.19.01 AMI am currently reading a book called 100 days which details the events that lead to the decline of one of Canada’s most successful companies. It is obvious from this book and Ibrahim’s book, that there have been problems in river city. In this case the river would be the Ottawa river and there would be no reference to Pool.

Sorry got distracted there for a moment.

I’m not going to spend any time reviewing this book today, but I may circle back to it later. It really is more of a forensic look at how the perfect storm cause a highly successful company to fall victim to a group of people on a mission. A good friend of mine has said on a number of occasions that timing is everything. This book tends to reinforce that statement. The book was a real eye opener for me and I highly recommend it.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking recently about the structure of an ideal tech company and have come to the conclusion that many companies would be better off without a legacy management layer. I have witnessed many tech companies where the executives are accomplished technology leaders that have stopped practicing their craft. Many CEO’s and VP’s lean on their staff to innovate while they provide guidance in the form of sage advice.

Experience is a very important ingredient for success, but it is not as important as listening to your customers, understanding their business and delivering a product that meets their needs.

I would suggest to you that tech companies should expect more from their executives. I recently drafted a business plan for a new software start-up where a requirement for employment is that you are able to code. If you want to be the CFO, you have to code. If you want to be the CEO, you have to code, and so it goes. This approach helps the executives to understand the development challenges and also helps the developers understand the executive challenges.

There are times in small companies when it would be ideal to put development on hold and have the company completely focus on sales. This could be a pipe dream but imagine how effective it would be to increase the size of your sales force over night with people who completely understand the product. Imagine how much more effective these developers would be with first hand knowledge of what the customer wants.

I have heard sales people say, “I would never want to put that guy in front of a customer”, but I don’t believe that customers are unable overlook the socially challenged. I have witnessed socially challenged extremely brilliant developers in front of customers and things work our for the better more often than sales people would lead you to believe.

I have heard the argument, “We can’t have customers distracting our development team.” My question to you would be, Is there anyone more important than the customer? Yes every customer wants something different and you can’t please everyone, but developers are just as good as everyone else at prioritizing.

I can imagine how this proposal strikes fear into the middle management layer and the people in marketing. How can we control the companies message if the development is in Chaos and allowed to talk to the end customer? I would suggest that sales are more important than controlling a message.

When you are looking for your next challenge, look at more than just the offer letter. Make sure that the people in leadership positions are doing their part to build a successful company. Get involved with customers and challenge managers that are not listening to what the customers want. Negotiate to have part of your salary tied to sales so that you can justify your actions and benefit from them.

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