How ‘Technical’ Do You Need To Be?

Then what do you do, you ask? Good question. You need to re-focus your energy on the leadership and managerial work. You need to re-calibrate what you see as your most valuable work, to be higher level contributions, and excel at those things. Some ideas:

Articulating clear outcomes for IT and getting them ratified by the business stakeholders.

Organizational fitness for purpose (getting the right roles defined, assessing the talent, and building the right structure).

Talent management/development plan.

Process maturity around user knowledge and care.

Strategic alignment around priorities and values.

Process improvements which drive cost reductions

Effective relationships with partner organizations.

You also need to make sure that the right work gets done at the right levels within your organization, including making sure the managers who report to you are also not working too deep in the detail. The also need to be focused and measured on the development of their teams. Those who manage these upward transitions away from the detail, are the most successful technology executives, add most value to the company, have the highest credibility, and have the most motivated and high-performing teams.

I developed my perspective on this when I became the manager of a 200 person software development organization, after being in marketing roles for the several years prior. Although my education was in electronic engineering and computer science, it was many years since I personally worked in an engineering role. This was my first functional management role, and there was no way I could dive down into the detail even if I wanted to, or thought I should.

So I was forced to find other ways to add value as a manager and a leader. By putting a high value on and excelling at the managerial, systems, and development aspects of the job, I built a huge amount of credibility with my team, my peers and my management, and increased the quality of the software, and the delivery schedule of my team dramatically.

Patty Azzarello became the youngest general manager ever at HP at the age of 33. She ran HP’s $1B OpenView software business at the age of 35, and was the CEO of an IT software company, Euclid Software at the age of 38. She has been working with IT executives to build their careers and put their IT strategies into action for many years. Today Patty Azzarello is the CEO of Azzarello Group,