X-Factors Roles: Out Of The Box Team Hiring

A common dev manager trait is to repeat that it is lacking of people and that the team must scale up in order to deliver the endless list of requirements (this trait is common at all management levels). Assuming that the manager gets approval to hire and expand the team, the manager will probably start looking for more developers. But, is hiring more developers is really what’s missing?

Try understanding the problem that the company is trying to solve by hiring. Is it the execution that appeared to be slow? or are there too many features that “needs” to be done? It is possible that the developers are developing in void and they actually need more direction and knowledge in order to work on the right features and focus so they can design a better architecture. Do less things - better, but how do we determine what less things to do? This is where untraditional x-factors roles may come more handy than hiring the 100th developer in your company.

In my current workplace, the first product I was part of was to create a new innovative experience for designing homes. After my hiring, I was amazed to see that there are some quite untraditional roles such as interior designer, experienced 3D modelers, artists and applied research teams that all provides great input on the problem we are working on. Developers are making daily discussions and being exposed to the domain wherever they go, either by bypassing near their desk and looking at their screens working with different tools, or just by chatting at lunch. Those interactions are priceless for the team’s productivity.

Diversity in workplaces is critical - sitting desk by desk with the x-factors make them accessible, moreover, workplace arrangement is a key factor as well, don’t put your x-factors in the other side of the office, or a different floor. They bring different personality and different point of view on problems (especially if they use the different side of the brain). This collaboration is very different from doing interviews or user research. When those x-factors are sitting next to you, they literally changes the culture and help us reframe problems and look at them differently.

“The art of reframing - it’s taking a problem that everyone else is looking at in a certain way, and reframing it - looking at it from a different perspective, it’s about challenging the underline assumptions or just focusing on what’s really important” - Carl Bass, AU2015

As managers, x-factor roles let us to focus on the real problems and develop more accurate roadmap and experiences, this is a huge strategic advantage for every company.

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