Why CTOs Should Code

Posted by | January 21, 2014 | business, management, startups, strategy | No Comments

Should CTOs Code?

Usually, yes. However, it depends upon the business.

For a tech startup where the CTO is one of a small team of founders building a software product, well then yes it might even be more like 60-80% time in that case. But in a global 2k enterprise with 20,000 employees, I doubt the CTO would have a moment to spare for hands on coding, although I suspect many do maintain some tech skills through classes or hobbies.

That said, I think for many SMB and startups, a CTO that spends 20-50% time coding experimental features in order to plumb the various risks/rewards of new and emerging technologies seems like a proper CTO coding practice.

Coding skills require constant use, and logically the more technical any CxO is the better the understanding behind various technical strategic decision making. Furthermore, “R&D” style with some cross-integration of the code with the main production line is a great use of CTO coding time.

With this approach, new tech strategy and operational methodology can be assessed by the CTO at a high (C) level, and integrated into main line code as test cases and feature “scaffolding” which can then be fleshed out by the production coders.

About John McMahon

John is a serial entrepreneur and full-stack developer. John is currently CEO of Starter Inc. a mobile and web development company, and is the founder of Humor Me Inc. maker of the Chukles consumer mobile humor app. John also currently serves as the CTO for MatanzasGroup, a Global Pharma Consulting Firm. John founded Extentech in 1998, growing it into a leading Web 2.0 spreadsheet tools vendor. In 2012, John sold his 100% stake of Extentech to Infoteria Corporation -- a publicly listed Japanese company. John has recognized expertise in startups, mobile and web development, open source, and cloud computing. John has been a contributor to Accounting World and has been interviewed and featured in stories on PandoDaily and Forbes.com.

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