Culture eats technology for breakfast

Culture eats technology for breakfastWe are all technology addicts nowadays and interested in what will be next. What is Apple launching, what is happening in the cloud, what about the internet of things? We are all preparing – some joyfully and some anxiously, to have our lives further changed by technology.

The need for change agents

And still, when we look at the technologies that have had the biggest impact, there was something other than technology that made the change possible. To create a tipping point, you need change agents; people that are able to understand what is needed and can make a compelling case, create a team that believes and delivers, after adjusting their plans tens or hundreds of times. In other words, you need a culture that opens the doors so that technology can solve real needs in a way that is profitable for all involved.

The track record of the software development industry

We would be happy to deliver great applications effortlessly to the market, especially those of us who make a living in the software industry. At Yonder, we are behind tens of software products, developed for and with our customers – Vertical Market Software companies – which are used daily by hundreds of thousands of users. And still, our industry does not have an excellent track record of delivering on time, on budget and – especially – software that is used right away by the end users. And the question is what makes the difference in our case.

The challenges of nearshoring

First, let’s admit that working in a nearshoring model can make things more difficult. Understanding the needs, communicating with the whole team – all things which are essential for success can be more difficult when working with geographically dispersed teams. And forming a culture that is united and continuously aligned on the goals is a challenge. One major help here is the communication technology – video conferencing, emails, etc. – besides getting together regularly.

The benefit of two parties: a domain and a development expert

However, there are significant advantages when having two parties involved in the execution with clear goals – besides the usual benefits of nearshoring. First of all, having each side focus primarily on a certain aspect – one on the market and one on the execution of the product – creates autonomous tracks that don’t block each other and product development takes place continuously. Secondly, having specific focus areas will bring the strengths of each partner to the table – one excelling at understanding the market and the overall environment, the other applying all the wisdom gained from building many other products into the new one.

And last but not least, instead of having one entity thinking on how to make a product successful, you now have two. That is two teams that are continuously looking at the situation, finding solutions and challenging each other’s solution so are all sure we’re on track. Do we really need this feature? Is the value of the feature worth the cost? How can we build it in such a way that is effective given the cost challenges we have?

Transparency and business alignment

But this requires a clear partnership, an open culture and real transparency on the business case from both sides. You cannot achieve this if the supplier is just ‘developing’ blindly without knowing the why. You cannot achieve this without proactivity and trust between the two sides.

This is why business alignment – understanding the ‘why’ behind the product is essential. And having that discussion, continuously, is critical to making sure all sides are aligned.

Because in the end, launching a successful product is just the outcome of a great collaboration and trust between teams. And yes, great technology – but applied effectively and appropriately for the situation. That is only possible when there is trust.

It comes down to culture

There are two brochures (found on the Social Affairs page), that give you the real story of a successful launch of a product – with insight into the process, technology, and impact. But after all, it comes down to culture.

Or to paraphrase Peter Drucker’s statement: “culture eats strategy for breakfast” I would say “culture eats technology for breakfast”. Not because technology is not important or we don’t like it – to the contrary – but rather because the culture enables technology to make a difference when employed appropriately for the context.

Daniel Lar, MD Yonder

 

Daniel Lar
Managing Director of Yonder

 

 

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