In the Trinity Method of Technology Management, tasks and responsibilities are categorized under three types of roles: Creator, Guardian and Recycler.
If you are the CTO or VP of Technology at an organization, your team needs to do three things effectively and regularly:
- Innovate; improve; create new products, features, services & processes
- Operate; maintain; execute existing processes & systems with predictable results
- Seek & identify products, features, services and processes that are no longer necessary; Decommission systems; Free up resources for reassignment
The above are the roles of creator, guardian and recycler, respectively.
An example of a creator-type manager is someone whose primary background is software engineering and that their strength is in delivering client satisfaction & happiness via innovative products & services.
A example of a guardian-type manager is someone who does a good job heading up technology operations.
The dedicated recycler-type role rarely exists in many organizations, resulting in unnecessary systems (whole or in part), features and processes consuming money, causing unnecessary complexity and slowing down productivity and innovation. Recycling should be a part of everyday work in a technology organization. Reduce waste by recycling.
There are many benefits of having a dedicated recycler role in your management team:
- Higher productivity due to reduction of complexity, removal of obstacles and availability of freed-up resources
- Helps eliminate or minimize ‘process creep’
- A happier workplace resulting from the above
- Cost savings
I recommend that you have these three distinct roles, with a manager focussed on only one of creator, guardian, or recycler type tasks & responsibilities at a given time.
The table below gives some examples of tasks and responsibilities under the three areas.
|Creator Tasks & Responsibilities||Guardian Tasks & Responsibilities||Recycler Tasks & Responsibilities|
|Develop new products, functionality, services, systems & processes||Operations, execution, delivering predictable results, maintenance & support||Examine existing systems, products, processes and resource assignments seeking areas for recycling|
|Add a major new feature to an existing Web application||Track expenses to budget, monthly||Decommissioning a system no longer in use|
|Develop a new mobile application||Compile status reports, weekly||Elimination of unnecessary steps and waste in a process or workflow|
|Mentor and coach employees on a regular basis||Identification of areas for cost reductions|
|Review and approve requests like vacations, expenses and||When an employee leaves, don’t immediately assume that you need to fill the position. The recycler manager should urge the team to determine if this work can be absorbed elsewhere. This will help eliminate waste and avoid or minimize layoffs in the future when business requires reducing staff.|
This article was inspired by the Indian concept of Trimurti in which in which the cosmic functions of creation, maintenance, and destruction are personified. It was also inspired by the Harvard Business Review article titled “What 17th-Century Pirates Can Teach Us About Job Design” by Hayagreeva Rao, Professor of at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.
This post about the Trinity Method of Technology Management is part of a series on technology leadership & management.
Well said, Rajiv.
Thank you, Jason. Glad you found the post useful.
Recycler – The decision to remove features usually does not come from the technology department. I think this is a business decision.
You make a good point. In response, consider these three areas:
1. This article is written with the perspective that the CTO is as much a part of the business team as a technology team. Decisions on (customer facing) product features would be made in consultation with other business folks.
2. There are obsolete products and no-longer-relevant features that only people in the technology department may be aware of since they maintain the systems. People in the product/marketing/sales teams who originally asked for those features may have moved on.
3. Some of the products, features, services and processes may be internal to the technology team. I.e. tools used by the technology team to do their work that are not directly customer facing.
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