Tech Leadership, In So Many Words … #11 Strategy

Andrew Weaver
August 4, 2023

There are many reasons tech leaders want to join CTO Academy …

Discovering those unknown unknowns …

But there is one request we receive as often as any and that is to help them negotiate the often challenging transition from being CTO firefighter to becoming CTO strategist.

Ultimately it’s those high level contributions an organization needs from their CTO, not an ongoing obsession with the weeds so therefore strategizing becomes a key task for any leader, particularly for those in tech leadership roles.

But this can’t be achieved effectively if you are still fire fighting.

Like a chess grandmaster, the CTO needs to anticipate future moves and how best to capitalise on them.

They need to create the time and the conditions required to review and understand the macro as well as the micro environment in other words, they need sufficient room to gain a perspective of the wider game rather than just the immediate moves.

So how do you start to maneuver yourself into that strategic mindset because analytical thinking — and knowing how to apply it — is challenging and some key elements need to be in place first?

Delegation, for example.
You won’t be able to think long-term if you’re still caught up in coding and other hands-on tasks.

Learning to trust your team with the day-to-day stuff is crucial in taking that step away from the keyboard and creating the time and headspace needed to focus on the strategic vision.

And that vision must be aligned with the long-term goals of the organization.

Not only do you have to recognise tech trends (and as all know, the pace of change seems to be accelerating all the time) you must also understand how they impact on the wider business goals. 

If ever there was a reason to step out of that silo you’re in and get a grasp of the aims and priorities of other departments, this is it.

And finally we return to that fundamental pillar of any successful leader, communication.

However much space you create for yourself or how brilliant your strategic thinking is, no one is going to be inspired if you can’t communicate it effectively and to different stakeholders, with different agendas and capacity to listen.

Conveying your ideas in clear, straightforward terms that resonate particularly with non-technical stakeholders is crucial.

KISS … and get everyone on board.

“Without strategy, execution is aimless. Without execution, strategy is useless”
– Morris Chang

Master this transition from firefighter to strategist, and the impact on your organisation and your career will be significant.

CTO Academy work with technology leaders from around the world with courses, coaching and community support around issues like strategy.

Visit our Website and in particular The Digital MBA for Technology Leaders which is generating fantastic reviews from our early graduates.

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90 Things You Need To Know To Become an Effective CTO

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