The North Star : Make Smart Decisions Faster

As a person that develops technology solutions, your toughest challenges are rarely technical. Often it’s people, complex business rules, and dysfunctional behaviors that result in bloated, over-engineered solutions that ultimately fail. We often skip building a proper business foundation because it’s sexier to fail fast and fail often, but if you’re already under-capitalized, the best thing you can do is lay a proper foundation that allows you to simplify your decisions.

As you move through your roadmap, you will make many decisions along the way. Ideally, each decision demonstrates that you are advancing closer to your vision, instead of revealing an oscillating pattern (often described as taking “one step forward and several steps backward”).

Here are a few questions that will allow you to maintain advancement and to make smart decisions faster.

  • Always maintain a shared understanding of the problem. All teams should be cross-disciplinary. People that will be impacted, people that execute, and people that care deeply will have unique perspectives that allow you to avoid “siloed thinking.” Silos, particularly informational silos, compromise your ability to scale well and cost-effectively. 
  • Maintain alignment on the vision of the future state. In your business, who shapes the future? How will you maintain a shared vision of the future that you’re creating? Defining how you will measure success is a good method for ensuring alignment. What are the metrics that signal if you’re moving in the right direction?
  • Decide how YOU move from A to B. What’s your style for navigating drifting goals? How do you respond when you’re not meeting your goals? Do you increase your action (ex: hire more salespeople)? Or do you adjust the goal (decrease the sales goal to address your current capacity)? There is no perfect answer IMO, but it’s important to be aware of the consequences of each approach (ex: securing the resources to fund increased action vs. mitigating a consistent pattern of adjusting goals to meet “lowering expectations”).
  • Lead with Metrics. Always lead your team meetings with success metrics. Comparing where you are to where you were when you last met is a powerful method for keeping everyone aligned around metrics that matter.

Kishau Rogers

Kishau Rogers is an award-winning technology entrepreneur specializing in wrangling complexity using computer science, systems thinking, creativity, and common sense. She is the Founder & CEO of Time Study, Inc., a high-growth startup offering solutions for using machine learning, advanced natural language processing, and data science to automatically tell a story of how enterprise employees spend their time and its impact on the areas that matter. As the Founder and CEO of Time Study, Kishau is one of the first Black women in Virginia to raise millions in venture capital to scale her tech startup. She is also the owner of Websmith Studio and the editor of the bigThinking project, a resource for promoting the principles of systems thinking.

Kishau’s work is featured in Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur, and Black Enterprise. In addition, she is a recipient of many awards, including the VCU Distinguished Alumni (in Computer Science), NAWBO Wells Fargo STEM award, the Lyn McDermid Community Impact Award, and the MBL Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

In her commitment to using technology as a tool for social good, she also serves as an advisor to organizations and initiatives like AI for Afrika, Think Of Us, WAAW Foundation, Level Up Ventures, Virginia Commonwealth University Department of Computer Science, the first U.S. White House Hackathon for Foster Care and SheHacks Africa, a software engineering intensive providing training to women & girls across Africa.

She holds a Computer Science degree and has over twenty-five years of experience in the technology industry and more than 15 years of entrepreneurial leadership.


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