10 things I've learnt since leaving corporate life

The importance of Tech

Tech underpins every business. Businesses cannot operate without tech, however, most treat them as an afterthought. Do this and your business will suffer.

The importance of information over opinion

Time and time again in corporates I saw decisions made by HiPPOs (highest paid person's opinion). Not only does this go against the company culture ("everybody has an input") it automatically cuts off any creativity, ignores the facts, disengages the team, and without any thought for information and data, is most often completely wrong.

Alignment of Tech and Product

Tech and product are the same thing. Not strictly true but to work in harmony, split them at your peril.

The role of PMs

You don't need them. Now that's got your attention. In product focused teams you don't need them. Hire a product manager, empower them to make decisions and create a team around them. You don't even need them to coordinate work between product teams. Align the product teams' objectives and let them work together to deliver.

Project plans

Again, you don't need them. This doesn't mean you don't need to plan. You do. But, we all know plans do not match reality so save yourself the pain and don't make it somebody's job to continuously update a Gantt chart.

Working environment

Create the kind of environment where people want to come to work. Ok it is a cliche but do buy some bean bags, a pool table, a coffee machine. Allow people to be people not automatons. Make them want to come to work. Buy some beer on a Friday afternoon. The small things go a long way.

Create small focused teams

Don't create a product or a project around one engineer. By all means throw one engineer at a spike but anything bigger create a team. It doesn't have to be a big team but at least two. Anything smaller doesn't work and unfairly burdens the engineer.

Pair working

Encourage pair working. You don't need to make it mandatory but do allow it to flourish. Don't worry about man hours, pairing will provide better quality in the long run.

Hire engineers

I am biased here but for tech roles, only hire engineers. If you have a tech problem to solve, engineers will find the solution. Engineers are the best people to automate and to support their applications. Startups don't employ testers or support staff. There's a reason for this.

Put trust in your people

Give your people the tools to deliver, do not constrain them, set them free and let them work hard. Too often corporates will put handcuffs around their people, expect the best from them but at every turn constrain them.