3 ways tech leaders can take the right risks

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In my tech career, I’ve learned that fear of failure can hold back digital product teams. On the contrary, I’ve seen what can happen when they act boldly.

I researched the groundbreaking navigation technology that helped map emergency room entrances to hospitals around the globe for a client building a car navigation system. I helped the US government put together and build the first point-to-point address system in the US, which has enabled several rescue providers to pinpoint an individual’s exact location, at the right time. to assist victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2004 seeking safety. When technology leaders, product teams, and engineers take on big challenges, they not only create better user experiences (UX), they can make lives easier and even save them. .

However, many tech companies have failed to be great, instead they have solved the problem well enough. Why? Because the financial and reputation stakes feel too high; The pressure to deliver a product that works is real. So technology leaders and their product engineering teams often play it safe: They’re afraid to do it differently.

Tech companies must eliminate the fear employees can have of making big changes — the fear of making the wrong decision and getting you fired. And, this mindset shift must start with the company’s leadership: by 2021, 43% American entrepreneurs said they fear failure, which can cause delays in decision-making, affect product development, and lower team morale.


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It’s not easy to take big risks, but the path to getting there is relatively simple. Technology leaders adopt three habits that can instill the right risk-taking mindset in their teams, improving lives along the way.

Harnessing business acumen to balance a bold vision

“Be bold” is often embraced and taught by leaders who are eager to do the right thing. Doing the right thing is often difficult, and it takes commitment and desire to do it. To quote Amelia Earhart: “I want to do it because I want to do it.”

What is the most important ingredient for a bold lead? I believe it’s business acumen that also allows leaders of all types (tech, finance, talent) to get the right work done because they can weigh the impact of a project to humanity compared to the cost a business has to pay.

How does business acumen make you bold? I always calculate the expected ROI, considering upfront costs, maintenance costs, and value delivered. And sometimes, you have to consider: What is the value of someone’s life being saved (as is the case with the emergency room entrance)? And, if a life is saved every year by adding a feature, it’s worth it.

Another way I want to be bold is to actively defend Intellectual Property (IP) for my company while transitioning to a new and patentable experience.

There are also potential pitfalls to being bold. Tech leaders may lose market share or they may lose the confidence of product teams. Both are very influential, but I’m usually more worried about losing the team’s trust. When you lose trust, team members often lose motivation and a sense of purpose. Trust can be the difference between high- and medium-performing groups.

Set bold goals but assess the potential impact

Technology leaders should always remember that the impact their product team has on the entire company is remarkable. Consider that 66% Technology executives say that research and product development and research teams are seen as most responsible for digital transformation. Their success is crucial, indeed.

To me, impact assessment is very important, and that means coaching teams and sharing market trends and ensuring that they deliver products and features that customers use and favorite. This is always measured by the adoption rate and net promotion score (NPS) of a product or feature. To underpin those key performance indicators (KPIs), I create ambitious goals, track improvements, and track to make sure we increase our impact.

Impact assessments also validate projects. If technology leaders are assessing the impact of what we produce, we learn more about our customers or users. If they use and love some of our products to solve a problem, then we can continue to evaluate that problem space scope in their daily lives, which is the ultimate expression of the problem. god of a problem and all the possible ways to solve it. And we can judge the overall liking of the product.

Inspire confidence by celebrating every step

Because not every risk is worth taking, being able to map out the business value of an initiative inspires confidence in your team because they know the plan is credible. and make sense. One Recent research found that less productive employees are nearly three times more likely to not know their goals. So technology leaders need to build confidence and bring clarity, which will keep team members engaged, productive, and developing game-changing products.

To strengthen trust, celebrate teams at all milestones — even when they fail. Many lessons can be learned from failure. Your team needs to know that learning is the goal — not winning — because there’s never an end to new product development. Always have the goalposts moved back, forward and side to side. A good tactic is to create moments to showcase the team’s work in rhythm. Most teams will run to that rhythm to have something to show off.

Also, ask questions like: “In what conditions might this concept work?” Encourage your team members to look for answers. As a technology leader, care about results.

In short, everyone is afraid of failure and avoids seizing opportunities, but the impact technology leaders can have is when they know what risks to take. For me, after years in a product executive role, it’s all about being bold while using business acumen, consistently assessing impact, and building trust. These three ingredients can build stronger product groups and even save lives.

Sara Rossio as product manager at software market G2.

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