Coding Isn’t a Necessary Leadership Skill — But Digital Literacy Is - Deepstash
Coding Isn’t a Necessary Leadership Skill — But Digital Literacy Is

Coding Isn’t a Necessary Leadership Skill — But Digital Literacy Is


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Coding Isn’t a Necessary Leadership Skill — But Digital Literacy Is

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Digital transformation is everywhere

When done right, it brings impressive business outcomes. However, according to McKinsey, 70% of all digital transformation initiatives do not reach their goals.

Most leaders know that tech is essential to business but don't know what they really need to know about technology to succeed in the digital age.

Leaders don't need to learn code to succeed. Instead, they need to learn how to work with people who code. It means becoming a digital collaborator and learning how to work with developers, data scientists, user experience designers and product managers.


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Most ambitious leaders are working under severe time constraints. 

The best return on your time investment is to become a digital collaborator. Learn how to get a holistic view of how a software product is made and who does what on a tech team.


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Remove choice

Non-digital professionals often don’t know that some problems can be solved easily by technology as they’ve never discussed them with a technologist.

The best way to learn anything quickly is to put yourself in a situation where not doing it is not an option. Set up a weekly meeting with technical specialists and your team to discuss what they’re working on and how it impacts scale, efficiency, and customer satisfaction. This conversation will lay the foundation for effective collaboration.


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There is a persistent myth of coders creating a billion-dollar company in a garage. However, there are ample examples of non-technical professionals that drive technological change. 

  • Non-technical founders like Katrina Lake of Stitch Fix and Brian Chesky of Airbnb have created innovations and massive shareholder value driven by technology.
  • Liberal arts graduate Colin Beirne helped found Two Sigma Ventures.
  • Bruce Daisley started his career selling radio advertising but helped take Twitter global as its vice president for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.


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Understand different working styles

The biggest difference between how technical and non-technical teams work:

  • Technical teams iterate and learn. They test a hypothesis rather than create a perfect end product for a customer. 
  • Non-technical teams focus on perfection. 

This difference can create tensions and misunderstandings. Non-technical teams want to discuss and plan every feature for every possible outcome, which will frustrate technical teams, who want to “move fast and break things.”

Thinking in terms of experimentation within a time frame and budget can help in digital innovation.


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You only need about 30% fluency in a handful of technical topics to develop your digital mindset.

  • Learn core tech terminology. Understand the difference between acquiring digital context versus digital fluency. 
  • Concepts such as user-centric design, APIs, and cloud computing are often not understood by non-technical leaders. Taking a course is a great way to invest in your leadership capital.


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