Diana Larsen and James Shore presented "The Agile CTO", a session for executives (oooh get me) which had the aim of bringing out and discussing a few consistent concerns that they have about their position.

  • Their research was based on interviews with 8 CTOs from a variety of companies - sized from 8 up to thousands;
  • Many felt the shift in priority as they moved from manager to CTO, quite keenly;
  • Priorities changed from "how this project is going" to "how the share price is doing";
  • They had a need to retain credibility by meeting commitments, and by not being surprised by bad news (there was a sense that it's the surprise that causes problems);
  • They spoke of trying to create an environment where mistakes are not punished, but are accepted and analysed;
  • Another consistent theme was time spent dealing with emotional baggage of team members;
  • They were also a consistent love of seeing people excel, or watching their teams come up with amazing stuff that completely surprised them;

We then broke into groups to discuss other consistent themes from our experiences. Our table came out with:

  • The need to keep abreast of industry trends and have a position on them, and how they affect our business;
  • Balancing new product development and "lights on" maintenance activities;
  • Representing business issues to the technology side of the business, and technology issues to the rest of the business - effectively being a conduit for information both ways;

... and some others, which I never wrote down, so they'll be lost to civilisation forever.