Working with a CTO can be a rewarding and fruitful experience for any founder. However, it’s crucial to establish a clear and effective collaboration process to ensure that the product development is aligned with the company’s goals. These are the best practices of how CEO’s can collaborate more efficiently with CTOs to achieve the company’s vision.

Collaborating on Technical Decisions

Present problems, not solutions

When making technical decisions, it is advisable for CEOs to focus on presenting the problem they aim to solve rather than proposing a specific solution. Share the insights and feedback collected from users without suggesting the “correct” way to solve the problem.

It’s important to remember that CTOs enjoy the process of finding solutions, so by presenting a problem, you can stimulate their creativity and encourage them to come up with innovative approaches. Additionally, keep in mind that software development involves various factors that can influence the ease and effort required for implementing a solution.

For example, when your users provide feedback about a problem, instead of the CEO devising a solution on their own, they should engage in a conversation with the CTO and collaborate on finding ways to address the problem together. Both their perspectives hold value and can contribute to a more comprehensive solution.

Share information in a structured way

To facilitate effective collaboration on technical decisions, it is crucial to share information in a structured manner. Engineers often rely on tools like JIRA to manage and track information. Therefore, presenting user feedback in an organized and processed format, along with well-defined product vision and user experience definitions, will promote productive discussions and enable the identification of viable solutions. Without such structure, conversations may become circular and unproductive.

For example, CEOs can compile a list of user feedback and categorize it based on similar ideas or themes. Then, they can prioritize the most critical items in a clear and transparent manner. They can use a tool like Magic Feedback to automatically organize and analyze their customer feedback, providing them with the top feature requests along with customer stories and examples. This can help them prioritize and understand the most important needs and desires of their customers in a structured and efficient manner.

Focus on the top 3 problems

When collaborating with the CTO on technical decisions, it is essential to prioritize the most critical issues. Trying to address too many problems simultaneously can result in ineffective solutions and wasted resources. Instead, concentrate on the top three issues that are currently impacting the product. It’s important to acknowledge that priorities can change over time, and completing even one issue may take longer than anticipated.

For example, ensure that business goals and engineering priorities are aligned. Then, select up to three of the most critical problems to focus on.

Collaborating on product development with CTO

Remember “Minimum” of MVP

It’s easy to get caught up in adding every possible feature, but this can dilute the product’s core purpose. Prioritize what’s essential to solve the customer’s problem and avoid thinking about scaling the system. Scaling can come later, if the product proves to be successful.

For example, you can use other systems like a login system to handle authentication tasks. Instead, focus on what makes the system special – what the customer does while using it.

Don’t focus on system automations in V1

While automation may seem like the ideal solution, it requires significant time and effort. Manual validation allows for better understanding of the process and its effectiveness, without investing resources in automation prematurely.

For example, if you want to create a system that sorts things into different categories using specific rules, it’s better to do it manually at first to make sure the rules are correct and stable. Automating it right away can make it harder to identify and fix any issues.

Sprints cycles as short as possible

For early-stage development like POC and MVP, a one-week sprint cycle is ideal for tracking progress and adapting to user feedback. However, avoid interfering with the sprint once the goal has been established. If changes are needed, wait until the following sprint cycle, unless it’s critical.

Collaborating on Communication

Talk every day

Regular communication between the CEO and CTO is crucial. Daily updates provide a sense of progress and ensure that everyone is aligned and moving in the same direction. Avoid allowing communication gaps to form, as they can lead to disconnections and delays.

For example, after each client meeting, take a few moments to jot down a brief summary of how it went, regardless of whether it was positive or negative. Alternatively, record the meeting and let an AI feedback management tool, such as Magic Feedback, analyze it at scale for you.

Communicate through the CTO, not directly with engineers

It is best to communicate directly with the CTO rather than individual engineers. This helps prevent misunderstandings or role confusion that could impact sprint planning and execution.

For example, if the CEO needs to check the progress of a specific feature or make last-minute changes, it is advisable to communicate with the CTO.

Document final decisions

To avoid miscommunications and ensure that everyone is on the same page, it is a good practice to document important decisions and agreements in writing. This can be done through emails, project management tools, or shared documents.

For example, after a meeting between the CEO and the CTO, it is a good idea to send an email or create a document summarizing what was discussed, ensuring that both parties remember the key points.

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