Services I Provide to the Team

This week, I thought about my roles and responsibilities as CTO and particularly what I'm not there for. On the way, I realized I am a service provider for the team. What services do I provide? I came up with the following: Guide, Safety Net, Foot on the Gas Pedal, and Arbiter.

The list is far from complete, but I do believe each service gives something critical. So, dear team, this is what I aim to do for you:

I am your guide

Together we travel a long and challenging journey. You grow our product with features, you fix bugs and attack technical debt. And along the way, there's lots of decisions to be made: Which frameworks and tools to use. When to start automating. What to document and how. What processes to change.

And with all those choices, it's sometimes hard to see the forest for the trees.

So I see my role as being far enough away that I can look ahead and around and give you context: on the product roadmap and customer demands, on technical necessities and future implications of these decisions.

And I hope that helps you in making an informed choice.

I am your safety net

You failed at a task? You missed a deadline? You messed something up?

That's okay. You should fail. Not always, but often enough. Because failure is how we learn. I don't expect you to never fail. I expect you to take conscious risks and make a leap. I expect you to learn.

Failing also means you tried something uncertain, something where you could fail in the first place. You did something bold, you refused to play it safe.

Good job!

And by the way: You are safe.

Being the guide, it's my job to connect the dots and look ahead. If I allow your failure to hurt our company, that's my bad.

Climb high, and know you can fall. That's what I mean by safety net. Like the belayer in top-rope climbing, my responsibility is to make sure you don't fall too far.

I am the foot on the gas pedal

You are a self-organizing team. That means, with the goal set, your job is to figure out how to get there. Your job is to learn and improve yourselves, the code, the team, the product, the processes, the company.

My job is to make sure you don't slow down, but instead become better and better.

We are like a quad racing through the landscape. I'm the foot on the gas. You can choose the direction, but speeding forward you must.

I am your arbiter

Every once in a while, self-organization does not work out and consensus is not in sight. Sometimes someone needs to make a decision and carry the responsibility for that one.

When you need that split vote: that's me.

So, yeah, these are the services I think I should provide. As always, it's a journey. A thought process that never stops. Looking forward to see this list evolve.