Aligning with the Goals of Non-Technical Management

Michael Borohovski

Cofounder & CTO at Tinfoil Security



A classic problem, especially with startups, is the challenge of aligning technical goals with business goals. The founders are looking to solve customers' problems, and engineering has to be aligned with that, despite having their own technical objectives. There are cases where the management of a company has no technical experience and, thereby, build roadblocks for the engineering team. The aim, though, is to bridge the gap between business and engineering so that goals are aligned. Below are tactical tips on how to have a constructive conversation with non-technical leads of your company about the alignment of goals.

Actions taken

  • At the outset, state that you believe your goals are the same as theirs; project alignment. First and foremost, you wish to enable the business to solve the needs of the customer through technology. You want to grow the business and you want to build a great product. You support the business with its necessity to solve the customers' needs quickly, efficiently, and better than your competitors. If these things aren't true, you aren't aligned with the business goals and should reconsider why you're there instead of elsewhere.
  • Have your non-technical leads list their business goals and then you, too, should list your goals for the engineering team. This is usually in the form of a technical roadmap. Then figure out how they should align and the best way to ensure continued collaboration. Remember, your technical roadmap cannot exist without being mapped into a business roadmap. Otherwise, what are you building for? Developing solutions for problems that don't exist or don't matter is a losing proposition.
  • Be considerate of certain milestones that the founders and/or management need to achieve. They may not have an understanding of what technology it takes to get there or what things are required from your team, so be prepared to explain it to them. Their goals are important, and you can even provide feedback or alternative options, but listen carefully for the problem, and not just the proposed solution.
  • Engineering has to quantify what is being built and why. It is your responsibility to effectively sell that to them. Clarify that compromises can be made but that it will likely force you to take on technical debt which you will have to pay for in the future. Describe the trade-offs and the effects of paying back debt if shortcuts are taken early on. Advocate for keeping the engineering team happy and on-task.
  • Ideally the conversation ends when both parties have come to a compromise and leave the meeting with the same exact goals.

Lessons learned

  • Approach them with a willingness to completely align on all goals between the business and the technology sides of the company. This guarantees that you are not building anything that doesn't align with their goals and that your goals are fully aligned with theirs.
  • Everybody tends to have the same end goals. People have different things that they care about on how to get there but this is actually a good thing. These competing paths actually force you to collaborate toward a reasonable compromise to meet the aligned end goals.
  • Approach your non-technical management with honesty. At the end of the day they and you both want to see the business succeed and you're all there to help with that success.

Be notified about next articles from Michael Borohovski

Michael Borohovski

Cofounder & CTO at Tinfoil Security

Engineering LeadershipLeadership DevelopmentCommunicationOrganizational StrategyDecision MakingCulture DevelopmentEngineering ManagementPerformance MetricsLeadership Training

Connect and Learn with the Best Eng Leaders

We will send you a weekly newsletter with new mentors, circles, peer groups, content, webinars,bounties and free events.


HomeCircles1-on-1 MentorshipBounties

© 2024 Plato. All rights reserved

LoginSign up