Skip to main content

On-Demand: Fixing Broken Teams

October 6, 2020

It is not uncommon for early-stage organizations, to make sub-optimal choices that lead to bad processes and team structures. This type of team tends to produce a large amount of technical debt. Subsequently, once the number of customers and the codebase gets large enough, productivity becomes erratic. This leads to delivery delays and poor quality output.

What is included in this talk?

This talk will introduce a high-level framework for getting a software team back on the right track by focusing on execution, quality, and, ultimately, continuous improvement. A combination of theory and real-world examples show how software teams can gain throughput by fixing fundamental problems and do so without increasing the budget.

Technical Debt

It is common to use an ad-hoc process and structure to gain customers, launch quickly into a market, or to get an idea ready for investors. Very often, the mantra is “all hands on deck” and “we all do everything!” This philosophy and behavior is necessary to gain traction in the market quickly. However, this will ultimately lead to problems down the line.

Once the customer base grows and starts demanding more, the investments begin to increase. The team again faces a situation where meeting customer demand is more important than fixing the ad-hoc nature of the process. 

The resulting natural outcome is technical debt. Everyone knows that they are willingly creating this debt. The reward is significant enough to continue down this path.

Study Design

Fast forward to the future. Revenues are healthy; the customer base is established and is no longer limited to early adopters. What happens next? Almost without notice, the mindset shifts from “I’m excited to have this product” to “this product is a critical part of my business.” The result is a new focus on timely delivery and quality.

The speaker draws from his personal experience and how these shape key concepts, is available in the talk. The methodology is applicable across organizations ranging from post-startup to fortune 500 in size.


The session offers insights and tools that can be applied by an engineering leader to increase the throughput of their organization. By focusing on setting new cultural values, reducing waste, and making improvements in a disciplined and sensible fashion, this is achievable without any significant change to the team budget. Getting more for the same amount of effort is the end goal.

Meet our panelists

On demand recording

Mike Watson, VP Engineering at Synerzip

Mike Watson, VP Engineering at Synerzip, is a veteran engineering leader with over 15 years of experience leading software teams. Mike’s passion is in helping software product development organizations transition into strong Agile practices and cultures within. He has experience working with large and medium public companies (such as Motorola and Tangoe), as well as mid-to-late stage startups (such as 4thpass, Solbright and Quintessent). Mike has been fortunate to work with a few of the leading minds in modern agile process development.

Mike’s technical specialties include Kanban/Scrum, highly scalable enterprise software, SaS/Cloud compliance, Application Security, System Integration and Mobile Commerce.