Imagine this: You’re the manager of a successful development team and your CFO has just come back from a conference. She walks into your office, slams a magazine down in front of you on your desk, and announces that you’re reimplementing your entire product suite in Rust and Blockchain.

Your company specialises in developing custom e-commerce websites for small businesses using WordPress, a handful of commonly used plugins, spectacular graphics design, and some secret sauce your team has painstakingly built up over the last decade.

What just happened?

Hype Driven Development is when promotion of a technology (whether a news item, magazine article, or conference presentation) gives the impression that it’s the one true solution for a broad category of problems even though the reality is that it’s merely a satisfactory solution for a narrow set of issues.

Your chief finance officer isn’t trying to make your life more difficult. Far from it.

Think about the nature of executive level roles – the so called CxO suite of offices. All the routine decision making happens at lower levels of management. At the top level, the focus is on two different things: Setting overarching business strategy and solving the problems that have been delegated-up because they’re difficult.

So why would your CFO announce such a dramatic change in technological direction for your successful business?

I suspect the most likely reason is that she sincerely believes the change is one that will address a fundamental underlying problem the business is experiencing. It doesn’t matter that her deep expertise is in an unrelated field, somehow, she has become convinced that Rust and Blockchain (in our example) are solutions that you need to adopt. (Alternatively, she might be engaging in an epic troll because she knows you well and knows just how to push your buttons to get an entertaining reaction.)

There are a few ways you could avoid this problem.

One approach would be to prevent your CFO from ever going to another conference, cancel all their magazine subscriptions, as well as placing a strict content filter on their internet browser. This might not go down too well – especially since accountants (and others in the financial industry) have certification requirements for annual professional development that must be satisfied.

More usefully, you should invest in your relationship with your CFO (and others in the executive suite) so they not only have a suitable understanding of the difficulties your team are facing, but also a deep level of trust that you have those challenges well in hand. They need to believe that they can safely focus their problem solving attention elsewhere.

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