“Titles don’t cost money.” I’ve heard that more than once from executives who were trying to justify different promotions and structures they’ve arrived at. Titles might not require a budget and indeed do not require cold hard cash to pay for. Nevertheless, I’ve seen them wreak havoc in teams in the long term. That is because they are not free. You finance them with organizational debt.

There are many incentives to bestow titles on people. Sometimes we do that to attract top talent, like making your first hires at a startup not just “plain” engineers. Other times it is done…


Coding is magic. Leading an engineering organization is like being in charge of a cadre of brilliant wizards. At least, it should be.

The experienced and calloused tech executive has learned-often the hard way-that things are not as easy as they seem. As the team grows, complexity prospers. The intrinsic perfectionism engenders a vicious negative feedback loop forming an organization on an incessant drive to… meet expectations.

Getting Boxed In

As a leader, you might find yourself facing a simple aspiration-delivering the freaking roadmap you committed to. I know, that’s frequently not a trivial achievement in and of itself. Nevertheless, the problem is…


People in R&D are sometimes unaware of the great power they hold over the company. Can you imagine the VP of Sales saying, “We have so much sales debt that we have to redo our playbook for three months and only then get back to selling”? Want to wager how long it would be between uttering something along those lines and getting jettisoned by the CEO?

Contrast that with the regular tech-centric thinking in engineering teams. We rewrite things; we claim a lot of time in the name of tech debt. When you don’t realize that the other parties in…


One of my pet peeves as a consultant is being approached by prospects asking for help with establishing their tech strategy. At first glance, it might seem an obvious fit: I work with tech executives, and I offer Sentient Strategy® workshops. The crux of the problem is that by the time you’ve decided to compile a tech strategy, you’ve already lost half the battle.

Focusing on a tech strategy makes sense only you’ve settled for having R&D act purely as a delivery vehicle for the company’s decisions. You get a roadmap handed to you; you provide what you committed to…


“Sorry, can’t talk on Friday, it’s really tight. We have our sprint planning.” How often have you said that to someone? The sprint planning and wrapping up ceremonies at many companies end up taking almost a full day every couple of weeks. That’s 10% of your time! Despite that huge investment, after all of that pomp and circumstance, what do you have to show for it?

I don’t mind the incessant focus on fast iterations-as long as it achieves meaningful, tangible impact. No one cares that your R&D organization flawlessly puts 100% of the tasks it committed to in the…


We’re obsessed with amassing more and more senior engineers. I don’t think I’ve talked to a single tech executive in the past year (and I’ve spoken with hundreds) that wasn’t bemoaning the lack of senior talent. I get it: when you onboard someone that already masters the tools and stack that you’re using, it can feel like a breath of fresh air. Some decisions become obvious; there’s less time spent researching the “correct” technical approaches to doing stuff. Who wouldn’t want that, right?

I won’t go into the fact that I believe companies should accept their role of educating their…


I’m guessing you’ve heard the story about Sheryl Sandberg and PowerPoint before. She was getting tired of meeting after meeting with slides and said she wanted “no more PowerPoint.” She naturally meant this just for internal meetings with her, not an overarching ban, but her team understood her wrong. They grew frustrated as they tried to have effective client meetings without slides! Only sometime later, when someone finally told her about this, was the misunderstanding cleared up.

This story might sound silly, but I have personally witnessed many similar situations where executives were not entirely aware of the influence they…


We cannot always agree on everything. I’d be the first to vouch for the importance of speaking up, candor, and chutzpah for the formation of a healthy culture. Nevertheless, there are disagreements, and then there are disagreements. How should you tackle the different situations?

To develop a mental model for handling disagreement, I refer to one of the axioms of effective leadership in my upcoming book, The Tech Executive Operating System. That axiom is that great teams are made of layers of force multipliers. …


There’s virtually no chance that you’re reading this and don’t already know that the key to unlocking your team’s effectiveness is empowering them. I don’t see many tech executives who need to be told this. You can directly see that when you don’t empower them and don’t delegate, you end up micromanaging them, and they cannot be as creative and impactful as they otherwise might be.

Micromanagement is still too prevalent in many organizations, big and small. However, I have noticed the opposite happen as well. That is when we veer too far here and provide vast autonomy without proper…


Let me share one of the open secrets of consultants: sometimes, a big part of our work relies merely on listening to people in the company and what they have to say. I routinely hear from CEOs and executives that the situation is “great” and that there are no issues regarding X. Then, I sit down to talk with some of the employees. That is the stage where I get torrents of valuable information. Think about it, I’m meeting someone for the first time, often in Zoom, and they disclose issues and problems they never voiced to their long time…

Aviv Ben-Yosef

Tech Executive Consultant, I help create autonomous teams that deliver @ https://avivbenyosef.com

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