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Monday, December 04, 2006

CTO Patterns

The definition of what a CTO is and how this person should contribute to an organization varies widely. In some cases, this variation is driven by unique business needs or by the evolutionary path that created the position within a specific company. In other cases, the variation is a result of a misunderstanding of the role of the CTO or of simply mimicking the role used in other companies. Roger Smith points out that very little research has been done to define the CTO’s responsibilities, methods of evaluating the person’s performance, and the skills that the person should bring to the office. He finds five dominant patterns of the CTO position labeled as the Genius, Administrator, Director, Executive, and Advocate.

Genius – A wizard, often one of the founders of the company focused on the core technology that launched their product or service.
Director – Large companies have strange organizational roles. The CTO is not usually a "doer", but a director of what needs to be done. He/she may be very technical, but spends their time managing product development or research labs.
Executive – Oragnization design may be such that the CTO may be a member of the executive staff and spend their time on strategic directions for the company. The focus is not on creating technologies, but on creating strategy.
Advocate – He is focused on the customer experience with the product or service.
Administrator – Charged with scheduling optimal deployment of the product and strategizing best licensing deals for software products.
Void – typically no man’s land . This is dangerous for the company.

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