I have been teaching a class on change management for many years and like to begin one section of the material by describing two equally accomplished but stylistically, very different leaders. One is commanding and strong, a specialist who knows this particular domain inside and out.
The second is high-energy and willing to learn. He is less skilled in this particular domain but has a greater diversity of experience and is more adaptable. My thought experiment involves high-risk mountain climbing, but you could just as easily ask whether you preferred a general surgeon or a very focused specialist. In high consequence situations, a strong argument can be made for utilizing the very best specialist but then again what happens if the situation or context changes significantly?
At FortyAU we pride ourselves on building “technically diverse” teams and have made this choice very intentionally. We built our company with the realization that software development is still a relatively young discipline (historically speaking) and that it is an industry ripe with innovation and experimentation. Rather than pave a well-trod path, we wanted to create a company culture that embraced the discomfort of learning and was willing to challenge each other to find the best solution for each client.
Any strategic decision comes with tradeoffs; for instance, we are required to recruit and train a wide variety of talent. Marketing our services can also be more challenging because our “ideal prospect” can be harder to define. However, in the end, we believe strongly that a language agnostic approach to software development drives key benefits for our clients and employees including:
- Using the best tool for the job; not just the developer’s favorite. Any development team choosing the technology stack for a new project will be faced with a tendency to gravitate towards the toolset they already know or have the most experience with. Often, the most-senior developer’s opinion is forced upon teammates with awkward resignation.
To combat this natural tendency towards groupthink or dictatorship, we ask all team leads to discuss the problem and solution with their team and write up an initial proposal. We then send that proposal out to the entire company as a “Request for Comment” (RFC). Soon the RFC is riddled with questions, suggestions, and challenges as the collective wisdom of 100+ engineers is brought to bear.
Sometimes we stick with the original recommendation, but the process alone is always useful to test our logic and our own internal biases on behalf of our clients.
- Diverse challenges grow stronger engineers. Often in interviews, a candidate will declare that they “love to learn” and are eager to take on new challenges as a software engineer. While this sounds great, I regularly remind our teams that learning is typically a very uncomfortable process as we stretch ourselves beyond what is familiar.
What we have found over time, is that those with a strong engineering-mindset are able to embrace this discomfort and actually gain energy and momentum when faced with a novel challenge.
After pushing through the initial discomfort, the best engineers gain confidence in the very process of learning and often ask during performance reviews to be placed on a new project with a different type of problem or tech stack.
- Your Industry is changing rapidly; your technology team should too. Whether we like it or not, every competitive industry is under attack from competitors and not immune to disruptive forces. Technology should be one of the levers that business leaders can pull on to help them stay competitive, scale their business, or create cost savings.
For that to happen, you need a software development team that adapts and brings you options. One that is equally able to embrace a new approach but also not afraid to call BS on a new-fangled concept with little practical value. The hot trend today may saddle you with a long-term issue such as poor maintainability or upgradability.
Some of our favorite projects at FortyAU are research efforts into novel approaches or as we like to say, “these are problems where the answers can’t easily be found on Google”.
Building a technically diverse team, one that embraces all practical, modern languages and frameworks isn’t for everyone, nor is it done overnight. We have spent 9+ years developing a talented and diverse group of engineers that are experts at learning and then applying that knowledge to real-world problems.
FortyAU CEO, Andrew Kerr is a solution-oriented technology executive with 10+ years of diverse experience leading teams, solving problems, and helping individuals and organizations to grow and thrive.
I have a passion for training and leadership development annually teaching dozens of classes on topics including change management, managing up and the power of humility for leaders. My first book, The Humility Imperative: Why the Humble Leader Wins in an Age of Ego, is now available.
Work with our design team to create an experience for your users that is seamless and modern. We design with development in mind using the best industry standard tools.
Define your user experience, style your application to match your brand, or refresh your product’s look and feel. Our team of experts can facilitate your vision.
Software development is our core. Leverage our talent to complete your next project, support your team, or architect a solution for your business.
Looking for a specific tech stack? Take a look at the list of technologies we use to deliver production-quality applications at FortyAU. We consider ourselves “language agnostic” and believe in using the right tool for the job.
Based in Nashville, TN, entirely onshore, we build award winning web design custom-built website generated from scratch. Our custom websites are coded to suit whatever your business is into.
There’s no template that will constraint your needs. Custom-built websites are flexible to updates and will grow as your business grows. Unlike templated sites, personalized ones are easier to modify.
Our mobile apps software is also based in Nashville, TN, entirely onshore. Our application developed specifically for use on small, wireless computing devices, such as smartphones and tablets, rather than desktop or laptop computers.
FULL STACK DEVELOPER
Our full stack developers work with the Back End — or server side — of the application as well as the Front End, or client side. Full Stack Developers have to have some skills in a wide variety of coding niches, from databases to graphic design and UI/UX management in order to do their job well.
SharePoint consultant is mainly responsible for the bridging gaps in architecture, design, and development projects. They act as a problem solver, communicator, and mediator to provide organizational solutions through cutting-edge understanding of the application. All of our consultants are Nashville, TN based.
Our Nashville, TN, software consultants work with software products for a business depending on their industry and the functions of the company. They look at the business as a whole and offer solutions for the best software choices to make processes more efficient for both staff and customers.
HEALTHCARE WEBSITE DEVELOPMENT
Some highlights of the Nashville based health companies we have created custom websites for include accessibility, engaging content and imagery, a curated user experience, easy navigation, and useful website features.
HEALTHCARE APP DEVELOPMENT
Nashville based startups and companies we have created healthcare apps commend our custom work for its personalized and strategic consulting and architecture.
Healthcare app development is the process by which an app is built for mobile devices with the intent of helping users effectively manage their medical conditions, fitness goals, hospital visits or insurance claims. This includes telemedicine, lab results reviews, prescription & appointment management and more.