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Managing Change for Technology Teams

  1. Change in business drives innovation and growth. For technology team members, change inspires professional development. Whether you are a leader or an individual contributor, knowing how to effectively plan for and adapt with change based on the needs of your team or organization can make your work more effective, successful, and rewarding. How can you best leverage your strengths? Are you lean and agile or strong in numbers? Are you an X-Wing fighter or the USS Enterprise? This guide explores actions available to all members of a technology team working to successfully navigate change. Managing Change for Technology Teams “THE X-WING FIGHTER VS. USS ENTERPRISE” HOW CAN YOU BEST LEVERAGE YOUR STRENGTHS? ARE YOU LEAN AND AGILE OR STRONG IN NUMBERS? | PAGE 02LYNDA.COM | MANAGING CHANGE FOR TECHNOLOGY TEAMS
  2. THIS GUIDE EXPLORES HOW TECHNOLOGY TEAMS CAN SUCCESSFULLY NAVIGATE CHANGE. Getting Focused p.04 Size Determines Strategy p.05 The Small Business p.06 The Medium-Size Business p.09 The Enterprise p.12 Conclusion p.15 CONTENTS 01 03 02 04 05 06
  3. O1 : GETTING FOCUSED Decision-Making Change requires a decision to act. Often, conversations take place but there is a reluctance to commit to the work discussed. Perceived risk or lack of consensus may contribute to inaction. Ultimately, a decision needs to be made. TrustSupportPlanning Change puts trust to the test. For managers, rely on the strengths of your team, stake- holders, and other managers to ease the pressure. Change is difficult when employees affected aren’t aware it’s coming. Their value to an organization becomes less clear. For managers, supporting a team is a key responsibilty. They also should support stakeholders, other managers, and clients. Change requires planning. Adjusting roles or switching directions without a plan breeds chaos. A plan won’t outline everything. It’s not the law. It’s a guide. As it unfolds, unknowns come into play. Have a plan, but don’t be chained to it. Getting Focused 4 KEY CONSIDERATIONS Change is demanding. When managing change for a technology team, it’s important to know where to focus. 01 | PAGE 04LYNDA.COM | MANAGING CHANGE FOR TECHNOLOGY TEAMS
  4. O2 : SIZE DETERMINES STRATEGY LYNDA.COM | MANAGING CHANGE FOR TECHNOLOGY TEAMS Size Determines Strategy “THE X-WING FIGHTER VS. USS ENTERPRISE” How change is best handled depends on an organization’s size. Startups and small businesses, medium-size companies, and large enterprises all function differently. | PAGE 05 Startups and small businesses are affected by the same dynamics that characterize X-Wing fighters in Star Wars. At the other end of the spectrum, large organizations embody characteristics of the USS Enterprise in Star Trek. In Star Wars, small and incredibly fast X-Wing fighters hold a single pilot. They can quickly maneuver in new directions to complete their missions. But they aren’t very powerful. And due to their size, they are vulnerable. In Star Trek, the USS Enterprise is large and typically slow but powerful. When its hundreds of crewmembers work well together, the ship can travel at amazing speeds. It becomes a formidable opponent with equally powerful offensive and defensive capabilities. 02
  5. The industry shifts and the solution needs adjusting, so the company pursues “establishment change” to adjust its initial work and gain a market foothold. The change here is localized among a handful of employees who can individually or through lightweight collaboration react, plan, and execute. O3 : THE SMALL BUSINESS The Small Business GETTING ESTABLISHED Let’s look at a hypothetical startup or small business building a mobile application for an emerging industry. 03 | PAGE 06LYNDA.COM | MANAGING CHANGE FOR TECHNOLOGY TEAMS
  6. ceo vp marketingvp product develpment quality engineer office manager developer The Small Business O3 : THE SMALL BUSINESS | PAGE 07LYNDA.COM | MANAGING CHANGE FOR TECHNOLOGY TEAMS The CEO works directly with two vice presidents to communicate and accomplish change. The vice president of product development functions as product manager, architect, and development manager, and can realign the solution from all three of those perspectives —explaining the new strategy to the developer and quality engineer. For the developer, the directive originates from a single person and is one level removed from the source of the change, the CEO. In all likelihood, the message is clear and actionable.
  7. | PAGE 08LYNDA.COM | MANAGING CHANGE FOR TECHNOLOGY TEAMSO3 : THE SMALL BUSINESS ✓Use small size to an advan- tage. Communicate and collaborate to understand the decision-making process. ✓Identify key factors affecting a decision. (Decisions are usually made by the CEO in an organization this size.) ✓Clearly define goals. ✓Use defined goals to build your planning process. Post the goals on a wall, and refer to them often. ✓Build a technical roadmap with clear milestones. Check each one to ensure it aligns with goals. ✓Build the need to correct course into your plan. Your team is small, so you can navigate unknowns well, but only if you aren’t overwhelmed. ✓Support your colleagues universally. Change at an organization this size is a big risk, and you need to help everyone. ✓Consider how you can embody change. Is there something outward-facing you can adjust? Take advantage of this time to do that, and share it with your team. Make a culture of change something that is embraced. ✓Trust your colleagues to use their expertise and amplify their commitment. Remember, trust got you this far. ✓Trust the work that goes into making the change. Since the organization is small, you are able to contribute greatly to the decision-making process. Decision-Making Planning Support Trust The Small Business
  8. | PAGE 09LYNDA.COM | MANAGING CHANGE FOR TECHNOLOGY TEAMSO4 : THE MEDIUM-SIZE BUSINESS The Medium-Size Business EVOLVING FOR NEW GROWTH Let’s look at a hypothetical medium-size business of about 500 employees building a single successful product for an existing user base. 04
  9. cto cmo ceo cfo coo vp product management vp user experience vp product marketing vp engineering developer lead architect user experience designers product marketing manager quality lead product managers developers quality engineers campaign manager O4 : THE MEDIUM-SIZE BUSINESS | PAGE 10LYNDA.COM | MANAGING CHANGE FOR TECHNOLOGY TEAMS The Medium-Size Business A product manager who works indirectly with a team to develop a product often identifies opportunity. The initial idea is communicated along a short chain across sections of the product development group as needed. If it is a larger project, multiple product managers work on com- ponents of the product and coordinate with multiple engineering teams. The architect, developer leads, and quality leads must determine how the change will impact all aspects of the work ahead and plan for adjustments in development methodology and arch- itecture. User experience designers may be required to implement the change. Developers, quality engineers, and architects are all dependent on the product manager and the developer lead, who define and prioritize the scope of work and feature roadmap. Employee roles are specialized and not “doubled up” for any one person. An individual developer focused on one feature or component of the whole product communicates and collaborates with fellow developers as needed.
  10. | PAGE 11LYNDA.COM | MANAGING CHANGE FOR TECHNOLOGY TEAMSO4 : THE MEDIUM-SIZE BUSINESS ✓Voice risks, and be open to multiple options. You aren’t at a small company anymore. Agreement might not come by consensus. ✓Build a case and communicate it effectively to the technology team, customer, and overall business. If a technology issue drives the change, you may own the decision. ✓Accommodate multiple teams to build your plan. Your plan isn’t limited to your immediate team. Stakeholders will play a key role. ✓Tap your infrastructure for help mapping out steps. You’ve already got a team, so use it. ✓Develop an end-to-end plan, but take each step one at a time. ✓Rely on your team, and lead by example to help support team members. ✓Support managers as well. Understand their anxiety. Answer their questions. ✓Create a safe place where concerns are heard and addressed. ✓Tap the unique skills of employees in specialized roles, and encourage them to work together. ✓Connect employees from disparate disciplines to encourage unique solutions. Invite varying points of view. ✓Trust your stakeholders. Give them the autonomy to do their jobs clearly and with ownership. Decision-Making Planning Support Trust The Medium-Size Business
  11. | PAGE 12LYNDA.COM | MANAGING CHANGE FOR TECHNOLOGY TEAMSO5 : THE ENTERPRISE The Enterprise SUSTAINING SUCCESS Let’s look at a hypothetical large enterprise with employees in the thousands, or even tens of thousands. 05 The company built a successful product and expanded its portfolio to three business units of products, services, and technologies. One product line nears the end of its life. The company needs to expand into a new area.
  12. cto cio ceo coocfo coo cro cmo svp division svp product design evp business unit evp business unit evp business unit vp product design product designer director product design vp product group product management senior product manager user experience designer product managers developer lead qa lead engineering manager director engineering product marketing manager campaign manager acquisitions marketing manager media marketing vp engineering group vp marketing general counsel architect developers quality engineers The Enterprise | PAGE 13LYNDA.COM | MANAGING CHANGE FOR TECHNOLOGY TEAMSO5 : THE ENTERPRISE Business opportunity research, analysis, product design, marketing, and other functions are highly specialized. Product managers typically focus on components. They collaborate to coordinate feature roadmaps and prioritize across multiple sets of needs. Impacts of change ripple widely. It’s a challenge to shift the focus of highly skilled professionals to something new. They have deep institutional knowledge of an existing product built on years of architecture and technical debt. Should the company transform the skills of its existing team, layoff staff and hire a new team, or pursue both strategies? Urgency, and the importance of the single revenue source, can impact this decision. If a company has multiple lines of equally successful products, the process can be evolutionary. If not, revolutionary change may be needed. The scope of communication required is huge. Individual technology professionals must embrace an entirely new ecosystem of software development, customer needs, and feature sets. The change affects one business unit, but the interdependencies of technology and infrastructure mandate an epic plan that analyzes and accommo- dates impacts and communicates them to all stakeholders.
  13. | PAGE 14LYNDA.COM | MANAGING CHANGE FOR TECHNOLOGY TEAMSO5 : THE ENTERPRISE ✓Accept that decision-making is usually opaque, and move on. For managers, questioning the process takes time away from being a leader for your team. ✓Ask questions. Which components of current products do others rely on? What dependencies will affect the roadmaps of other teams? ✓Ensure you are not adding risk by reducing the maintenance of an existing product. ✓Consider all available options. ✓Accommodate training. It is part of the work. ✓For managers, rely on Human Resources when transitioning employees out of the organi- zation. For those leaving, write recommendations and provide references. Be there for them, wherever they go. ✓ Trust that your organization’s established lines of business will help provide revenue. Decision-Making Planning Support Trust The Enterprise
  14. Change is fundamental in business. You, your technology team, and your entire organization can be prepared. At a startup or small business, quickly and adeptly address a market with scalable and adaptive technologies and platforms. At a medium-size business, understand how to evolve through observation, data science, or analysis. At the enterprise, encourage a culture of change and actively communicate across business units. Whether your business is an X-Wing fighter or the USS Enterprise, your mission will be a success. O6 : CONCLUSION | PAGE 15LYNDA.COM | MANAGING CHANGE FOR TECHNOLOGY TEAMS Conclusion 06
  15. LYNDA.COM | MANAGING CHANGE FOR TECHNOLOGY TEAMS | 16ABOUT THE AUTHOR Doug Winnie is director of content for the Technology library at LinkedIn, and has worked in the software industry in multiple roles for more than 15 years. Through his work with companies like Lexus, Safeway, Hewlett-Packard, and Industrial Light Magic, he has been recognized multiple times for industry awards, including two Webby Award nominations. Prior to LinkedIn and, Doug worked for many years at Adobe as a principal product manager bridging the gap between the needs and requirements of designers and developers, which resulted in many projects and applications. Currently, Doug lives in San Francisco. He is @sfdesigner on Twitter. About the Author
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