Model: company success = business + technology + personal success

December 10th, 2020

Business success makes the company.

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many teams

  • huge business success

  • lousy code

I work with a lot of teams that have huge business success, but have really lousy code.


You go to a company, and you see they are really successful as a company.

You look at their software an you: "Oh my, what is going on here? What is wrong with this code?"


All these companies are really successful with really lousy code.


So I have learned: Business success is independent of technical success.




Lack of technology success breaks the company

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5-7-9 years, cannot make anymore progress on it -> rewrite

Rewrites are bad.

No choice, must rewrite


A lot of those companies hire me, after they've gotten to the point where they can't make any more progress on their software.

They've had big business success.

After about 5-7 maybe 9 years with their product, they are finding they can't make any more progress on it.

* People are complaining about technical debt.

* The simplest seeming things take forever to deliver.

* Programmers say "we can't work with this, we need a total rewrite"

And so they decide to do a total rewrite.

But that is a terrible thing to do if you're a software company.

It means that the software you have now, is the software you're gonna have for the next couple of years. While you stop everything and do the rewrite.


* your competitors are catching up

* your customers are seeing nothing new

* maintenance agreements promising regular updates, not delivered


Rewrites are a really bad idea as a company.

But the technical debt on their software is so bad they have no choice.



Personal success

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people: stakeholders, team members, everyone involved in the project

They need to have a sense of personal success, or else...

  • not give their all

  • sabotaging behaviour (worst case)


Otherwise they will not give it their all.

And you can even see sabotaging behaviour in the worst case.



James Shore does not go into much detail about what Personal Success means.

But all of Simon Sinek's work seems to embody this.

Quote: cynicism, paranoia, mistrust and self-interest

Leaders set the conditions for trust and cooperation.


Get those conditions wrong and the opposite will occur:

- cynicism,

- paranoia,

- mistrust and

- self-interest.


I've come to realise that personal success is all about belonging

belonging = common values & beliefs


I used to think the term 'personal success' was a poor choice.

Under 'personal success' is

  • company culture

  • employee wellbeing

  • teamwork

  • just cause (working on something bigger than yourself)

  • vision

  • belonging

  • trust

  • cooperation

  • ...


But through Simon Sinek's work, I've come to realise that 'personal success' means all that.

When you create the right environment, have a shared purpose, ... becomes personal to people.

It's no longer about the group, or the company, but about themselves.

People start to see what they do, what they contribute to, as expression of self.

Model: people express who they are with symbols

And they start to do it for themselves

Quote: work hard for themselves

Quote: win for themselves

Quote: when people take personal risk




long term company success = business success + technology success + personal success

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Long-term success as a company needs all three


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(src: Video: Agile Fluency - James Shore)