Ask yourself the following questions:
When your CEO comes to you requesting new customer self-service Web capabilities and mobile development projects, will you be ready and able to deliver quickly?
Have you positioned your development shop to help your business move quickly to take advantage of new opportunities?
Can it move fast and turn on a dime?
The truth is, many application development organizations simply aren’t ready for the next wave of growth and innovation. And it’s no wonder: They’ve been paring back costs for years, focusing on keeping the lights on and controlling existing projects. Their current processes, staff and tool sets lack the ability to support innovation and fast growth. As a result, these shops have to ramp up to meet their business peers’ elevated expectations.
One thing that keeps many shops from being able to build breakthrough software is the state of their development culture. Forrester’s research shows that development shops tend to fit into one of three archetypes: Solid Utilities, Trusted Suppliers or Partner Players. Of these archetypes, Partner Player is the most conducive to innovative application development. These shops are the best equipped to spring forward when opportunity knocks, as they are more flexible than the other archetypes, in large part due to their hiring and staff development practices, which focus on creating and sustaining high-performance development teams.
But how do you get there? How do you move from Solid Utility or Trusted Supplier to Partner Player? Building a high-performance development team is not much different from building a successful sports team: It takes a combination of superstars and players that know their role and who can click together. You’re looking to hire and keep intrinsically motivated development professionals. Internal motivation and a desire for self-improvement drive these individuals, not the basic motivations of paying the mortgage or padding their yearly bonus. Intrinsically motivated individuals get deeply involved in their professions for their own, varied reasons, not just for the money.
One of the big pitfalls development teams run up against that keep them from reaching their full potential is a reluctance to cut poor performers. Netflix avoids this by evaluating its team members regularly and asking one deceptively simple question: “Which of my people, if they told me they were leaving in two months for a similar job at a peer company, would I fight hard to keep at Netflix?” According to Netflix, those that fail this “keeper” test should be let go immediately—with a generous severance package—to open up space for a stronger team member.