Does Your CEO Understand Software Development?

In an era where software is eating the world, CEO’s need to build up their software acumen

Napoleon is considered one of the greatest military leaders of history. Over the course of a decade, he rose from obscurity to conquer most of continental Europe. Yet, for all his military genius, what arguably made him so successful in battle was his understanding of logistics.

You will not find it difficult to prove that battles, campaigns, and even wars have been won or lost primarily because of logistics.
- General Dwight D. Eisenhower

Up until Napoleon, most large scale conflicts were local. It was simply too difficult and complex to maintain supply chains across long distances. If you cannot supply, feed, and care for the troops, chances are the troops won’t last long.

What happens then when more and more of those products & services are delivered online?

CEO’s often make the mistake of thinking “software is the easy part”. However CEO’s being ignorant of how software works in this day and age is tantamount to a wartime general thinking logistics is grunt work. The battle really is all about delivering world-class software products.

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  1. Software is never “done”
  2. Software is a team effort; nobody can do it all
  3. Design isn’t how something looks; it is how it works
  4. Security is everyone’s responsibility
  5. Feature size doesn’t predict developer time
  6. Greatness comes from thousands of small improvements
  7. Technical debt is bad but unavoidable
  8. Software doesn’t run itself
  9. Complex systems need DevOps to run well

If you don’t plan on future releases that will incorporate the best ideas of your employees, you have built a system that just solves yesterday’s problems. The world changes, your competitors offer new features, people have new ideas.

Software is complex because people, companies, and markets are complex and changing. As Heraclitus said, the only constant in life is change. If executives perceive of software as some discrete thing that you buy, configure once, then forget about, then much of modern software development would seem like mystical arts.

If your executives do not realize the importance of software to the company’s viability, use Tom’s post as a guide to help educate your executives. If that does not work, Tom has another suggestion. Brush up your resume and find a company that embraces software as the future.

Are you at a company whose executive’s understand software development? If not, what could help your CEO to understand the value of developers?

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