It’s not a tech problem, stupid

April 09, 2016

I love helping people and solving complex problems, but it’s frustrating to see issues that are beyond the scope of a programmer to fix. If you have no engineering background, then you may think you have a tech problem: a website, an app or a machine learning server seems what you need. But it’s not. In my opinion, these are your 7 real fundamental problems:

1. You’re not delivering.

What’s the product vision? What’s the problem you are trying to solve? Do you understand what the customers need? How’s the product differentiate in the market? Do you have control over the delivery pipeline?… If not, maybe it’s a waste of time and money to build something that nobody truly cares.

2. You don’t embrace change.

You fear to see things break. What you can’t see are those messy CSS files that nobody has a clue, those legacy browsers that are already deprecated, those spaghetti codes that no one wants to touch… Organising them takes time, but it’s important to have the courage to drive drastic change. Clean up the tech debt, that is the way to move forward.

3. You’re not creative.

The text is not perfectly aligned, the box is one pixel off, the font size is too small… I get it, those are an easy fix, but still, it doesn’t look good. Maybe what you need is trust the designer to make risky visual decisions. Maybe you should hire a user experience expert to do some A/B testing. Maybe you need to provide some good quality content in order to do SEO.

4. You build close and dishonest relationships with no communication.

There is no visibility about the progress nor the impediments. You are lying to the investors, over-promising and everything seems perfect. There was no conversation in between to talk about the issues. Until one day, the truth is disclosed and everyone is screwed up with nothing accomplished. Thanks :(

5. You build a negative team spirit.

Do you know why your team is not happy? Is there an unreasonable workload that burnt out the team? Does the team enjoy what they are doing? Is there enough trust? The work environment is not friendly, warm nor exciting. Maybe it’s is poor management that the CEO should be fired.

6. You do less with more.

Can’t you see the loss of productivity? Unorganised meetings with no conclusions. Do multiple tasks at the same time with no priorities. Not just wasting your own time, but accumulatively wasting everyone’s time.

7. You’re not being humble.

It doesn’t matter to you what is right, but who is right. You are senior with more experience so you must be right. Your ego affects the judgement and no longer make decisions objectively. You are blinded by this attitude and all you can see is your big dick on the table.

It’s easy to find bugs in software, but it’s hard to see the bugs in company culture. Fix the fundamental problems, that’s what you really need to do.

Written by Victor Leung who is a keen traveller to see every country in the world, passionate about cutting edge technologies. Follow me on Twitter