EXCLUSIVE: “Refusing to enter the flaming inferno of stars’ – Trygve Aasheim, DNB in ‘The Fintech Magazine’
You’ve seen the meme… there’s no need to accept your fate, says Trygve Aasheim, Lead Architect for Corporate Banking at Norway’s largest financial services group, DNB
‘Planning is guessing’ was a phrase I read in a book 15 years ago. Of course it is, but Re:Work (the book) placed it into a new context for me. Today, plans are still guesses but, for tech, the stakes have become higher: J-curve style.As technology strategists, we stand in front of a pile of future decisions where this is very clear. We’re guessing a lot. And more frequently. Technology must scale. Not in the amount of sessions or features (although that, too), but on a strategic level.OK, that’s still old news.
But, right now, the correct technology choice on paper does not scale in the real world. We must modernise. We must transition. We must mature beyond digital.
We must become data-driven. And not just as investor theatre. But for real.On paper, there is a limited set of technology patterns that stand out. They’re like North Stars. But North Stars are visible for everyone.Sounds awesome? Wrong. It’s terrible. Because that means the talent that can juggle those stars commands twice the price in the job market as any other. Not only that, they’ve been snapped up. If you are lucky enough to source a team, they are spending 25 per cent of their week fending off headhunters. And you need to give them freedom but you also need to control them – which they don’t like.
“Being aware that firefighting is inevitable shouldn’t make us think ‘I will just live in an inferno’So”
However, that’s the problem you must solve, because the technology that has been with you for 40 years must be replaced, and by a team that understands that the technology they introduce won’t live for 40 years. And it shouldn’t.They are not guessing, though, they are implementing. They are in love – with both the technology and who they are (important… for everyone). It’s human. Yet you need to have technology hedging as part of your implementation: exit plans; abstraction; flexibility. Flexible architecture isn’t just a phrase you add to your Powerpoint for those board meetings anymore. Now it’s dead serious. It’s your fire extinguisher. And if you don’t know how to use it, you will get burned. Because stars are hot. Like, seriously hot.
So, how do you make sure your plans won’t burn you when your team brings you a burning star? You know, those teams that you remind every day that their technology is being phased out? But now they are challenging you with details about system logic so deep that any previous rabbit hole seems like a flat surface. The reality is that the ones you are hiring today won’t be with you for 40 years.
That’s not bad, but not good either. So, not only do you need to hedge your technology choice and make sure you can exit whatever you choose, but the operational risk your dream team introduces is enormous if they quit. And they will, forcing you to trawl the job market again to find more star-jugglers. They will leave when they don’t feel challenged anymore. You still have challenges. They don’t. Today’s employees don’t work for you or your company; but maybe for your vision statement, if it makes sense.
They work for themselves to grow, thrive and jump to the next challenge to grow more. So, you must hedge that as well. You must plan for their exit, even if your fire extinguisher is named Challenge Creator 3000.So, planning is guessing… and guessing feels as easy as riding a bicycle. Except, right now, the bicycle is on fire, you are on fire, the road is on fire. But look: quoting memes is inevitable in this line of work, but continuing to ride the flaming bike isn’t – even with fire extinguishers.Being aware that firefighting is inevitable shouldn’t make us think ‘I will just live in a flaming inferno’. It should make us think about fire-resistant materials, extinguishers and plenty of water. Because, if you’ve done most of your thinking when you knew the least about a piece of work, then, as you know more, re-think.
You’d be amazed how far it takes you down the ‘not being on fire’ path.
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