Six insights from Digital Dinners: How to build high performing tech teams
By Head of Marketing, Rachel Mcelroy
Did you catch our event, ‘Digital Dinners - how to build high performing tech teams’? Don’t fret if not. While you may have missed the delicious paella and churros from Bomba, expert insights and valuable networking opportunities, we’ve got you covered with the key takeaways. from the evening. But here’s a pro tip: don’t miss the next one. To ensure you’re part of the discussion, follow our LinkedIn page for the next event announcement.
At our event, attendees were treated to an insightful talk by a panel of esteemed guest speakers from Leeds, including our founder and director, Ben Davison; NHS England's deputy chief clinical information officer, Arjun Dhillon; Asda's DevSecOps lead, Ruta Baltiejute; and Sky's digital director of strategy, design & delivery, Liam Cadd. This talent fuelled the event as part of the Leeds Digital Festival events programme.
The speaker line-up delved into the art of building high-performing tech teams, with a focus on creating an unparalleled customer-centric experience that thrives on outcomes and adapts to evolving service demands. Here are the key insights from this thought-provoking discussion:
Customer experience is paramount
In today's world, customer expectations are sky-high, and this applies across public and private sectors. Remarkably, 80% of customers rate their experience with a company as equally important as its products and services. The impact of poor customer service is profound, with one in three customers abandoning a beloved brand after just one negative experience. The stakes rise further, with 90% of customers bidding adieu after three bad experiences.
In the digital age, organisations are in a relentless race to bridge the gap between customer expectations and on-ground reality, all whilst customers are continuously shifting the goalposts. The winning formula lies in delivering services that customers want and doing it faster than demand evolves. Perfecting both aspects sets you on the path to success.
Define what high performance means to you
Building a high-performing tech team necessitates a clear definition of what high performance means to your business. Our panellists shared their insights with Ben, emphasising high performance involves everything operating seamlessly and harmoniously. He says it's about that "click" where battles are replaced by a sense of alignment, rather than just achieving results.
The panel agreed that trust and safety within the team are pivotal, especially when dealing with high-pressure situations prone to errors. Further to this, Arjun pointed out that recognising when you're not in a high-performing tech team can be as enlightening as knowing when you are.
High performance means valuing customers and involving various team members — not just senior figures — in discussions about customer priorities, according to Liam. Revealing the commercial aspects and aligning them with customer needs forms the foundation of high-performing teams.
During the discussion, Ruta shared her experience of rapidly scaling a team and highlighted the significance of trust and empathy in such scenarios. Building units that can adapt, upskill, and maintain trust is indispensable for success.
Leveraging service design for [what]
The conversation naturally shifted to the necessity of robust service design in the digital race and how to make it effective. Liam underscored the evolving nature of customer expectations and the importance of prioritising design early in the development process. Moving beyond the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) mindset and focusing on research-driven development leads to enhanced user experiences.
Arjun discussed the challenges of keeping user experiences fresh, especially in organisations where established apps haven't seen an update in years. Continuous adaptation is key to staying relevant.
Ben highlighted that while government services excel in accessibility design, they sometimes struggle with commercial aspects. Achieving a balance between outcomes and marketable viability is crucial. Ruta emphasised the need for policy alignment and open conversations when building and scaling tech products.
Maximise flow to boost value
The success of any entity hinges on maximising flow – the efficiency and smoothness with which a business operates. Although not a new concept, this strategy has gained prominence over the last decade. Ben stressed its increasing prevalence in business services.
Efficiency and seamless interactions between teams are pivotal for creating value. Measuring and optimising flow is essential for productivity. Therefore, Arjun emphasised the importance of preventing disruptions in flow, especially in critical situations like the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Collaborative understanding and assurance across teams are vital.
How to measure high performance
The panel agreed that measuring high performance can be challenging. Arjun acknowledged that it's not just about structural leadership, but also about addressing risks and understanding product ownership.
Liam discussed the importance of anchor points, embracing change, and aligning with what truly matters for the business to measure and achieve high performance. Meanwhile, Ruta emphasised the importance of ensuring happiness at work and creating open spaces for communication and feedback.
Arjun shared the concept of the three pillars of trust: empathy, logic, and authenticity. These serve as the foundation for building a coherent and logical narrative for the organisation, aiding in measuring high-performance success.
To wrap up the evening, each panellist shared a single word or piece of advice on building high-performing tech teams:
- Ruta: Empathy — take the time to understand others' roles.
- Liam: Eliminate the separation between business and technology; encourage teams to function as one.
- Arjun: Listen and engage when challenged, and exercise caution regarding information from social media.
- Ben: Negotiate and communicate effectively within the team.
The guest speaker discussion revealed that organisations are intricate ecosystems with interwoven connections across people, processes, structures, technology, culture, history, and politics. Learning from both successes and failures, as well as considering diverse perspectives, is key to finding what works best for each business.
Should your SREs be interested in Security?
We can summarise the role of the SRE as 'ensuring the smooth operation of a Service for its users.' Of course, this ten-word simplification is not intended to detract from the fact that there are tools, processes and working practices, statistical analysis, and cultural aspects to running an effective SRE function within an organisation.