Stepping Back (but not away)
Over the last couple years I have had a growing sense of uneasiness with the tech industry. Part of the problem is that the industry itself has had some growing pains. Venture Capitalists are more wary after being burned by such blunders as Theranos and Juicero and companies are increasingly scrambling to adapt not just to new technlogies, but to the constant breaches and other security issues caused by all this new kit.
Tech is no longer the purvey of the scrappy startup that bursts onto the scene out of nowhere, but rather a calculated dance of innovators presenting ideas that can be understood by venture capitalists while honing the message to meet the expectations of industry analysts.
The uneasiness isn't with the maturation of the industry, it's how hard it seems for us to adjust to this maturity. It's hard to balance creativity and innovation against the real world of money and business requirements.
Software engineering attracts creative minds who want to solve problems, and it's hard to get a good engineer to stop poking at the code. At the same time, the business side of the house has to understand that while code is ephemeral, it isn't easy to change because an analyst has created a new magic quadrant. Understanding the market before you launch is pretty much the opposite of changing the world with your innovation.
I have had many roles in my career in Silicon Valley tech; I've coded, I've managed teams, I've been on the front lines of sales and the backend of customer success and support. I enjoy building and creating and watching things grow.
But I've found a growing need for the skill I've used most in my career -- I've called this skill 'geek translator' because connecting business requirements to technical delivery requires the tech to understand the biz and the biz to understand the tech.
This 'geek translation' has only become more critical as we've added new people to the mix. Now we have to get everyone on board for a message that supports business leadership, software engineering, industry analysts, and finance.
For example, we've always thought of data security as a thing IT takes care of; it's a technical thing that doesn't really matter much to the business side of the house. But the requirements around what's important are very much driven by legal compliance and financial investment.
To explain this to everyone involved I put together a presentation called 'why we protect our stuff.' It's a lighthearted animation with some catchy tango music in the background that covers devops, legal and company stock in about a minute. This intro then leads us into other, more detailed presentations and documents that are more relevant to each audience, but the quick overview gives us a starting place for a conversation across all stakeholders, even the ones who didn't know they were stakeholders.
So as I step away from a management role at Cloudentity, I'm leaning in to the rest of the industry to offer my technical and business translation and presentation services. This can be as simple as some one-off presentations or a series of videos to feed your social feeds and support your web presence.
It's a complicated world, but with a little framing we can make it a little easier to understand.