When executives don\u2019t see the outcomes they expect from a technology, they often bring in external help to assess the situation and propose a get-well plan. We have all been a part of those meetings where someone says: Enough is enough! We keep discussing the same issues over and over, but the answer is not in this room. Let\u2019s ask someone outside of this room for an independent opinion.\nOften, it\u2019s a management consultant who gets the call for help. But, for most IT issues, executives also need to\u00a0talk to software developers for their advice and perspective. Here\u2019s why:\nDevelopers know technology on a level that executives don\u2019t\nA real-world example: A large-scale SAP implementation was in jeopardy. The data conversion track was the Achilles\u2019 heel. Quality and performance were suffering. The team was desperately trying to make improvements to the procedures, but all efforts were limited because at the core of the process was a third-party tool into which we had no visibility.\nWe added a developer to the team, who was not familiar with the third-party tool. He quickly wrote his own procedure using a toolset that was native to the hardware we were using. His procedure was lightning-fast and more accurate. After months of trying to work around a third-party tool, we simply threw it out the window and replaced it with a straightforward custom procedure, which saved the project.\nThis illustrates how developers think outside an executive\u2019s line of thinking. While executives are focused on what might seem like best practices, developers often have fantastic ideas that apply to specific technological circumstances. The trick is not to tell\u00a0developers how to get something done, but rather to tell them what your objective is, and let them figure out the how.\nDevelopers have a different perspective on management\nAnother example: A consulting firm was suffering from an identity crisis following a series of acquisitions. While top management was taking gradual steps towards stabilization, sales continued to plummet, and the best talent was walking out the door.\nOver lunch, I asked a developer at the firm how much longer until things stabilize. \u201cNever\u201d said the developer. He continued, \u201cThis company needs to push the restart button. The only way we can be successful is if we forget about the past and all the plans we made. If we shed all the dead weight, we can use the remaining talent to reinvent ourselves.\u201d\nThis was a very radical statement and I dismissed it as such. Nonetheless, history proved me wrong. The firm eventually dwindled to a handful of people and was sold off.\nWhile developers may not always have the leadership skills required to execute a strategy, they often have the smarts to come up with or validate a vision.\nDevelopers have a unique vantage point\nExecutives have a business case view of investments in technology, i.e., \u201cWe will enjoy X benefits if we sacrifice Y time and money.\u201d\nDevelopers instinctively see critical execution components that will not only affect the implementation approach, but can also help validate or challenge the investment decision to begin with.\nHere are a few topics that developers have great insights into:\n\nQuality of technology solutions\nVendor capabilities and personnel\nCompatibility of technologies\nInternal politics\nTechnology trends\n\nThe biggest obstacle in communicating with developers is often terminology. Executives tend to talk about ideas, while developers often speak in a practical or technical language. Both sides need to have patience and show understanding for the other in order for the discussion to be productive.\nIn many cases, it is a good idea to ask developers open-ended questions to solicit input on management decisions. At times, you may want to ask validation questions, especially about a specific technology.\nHere are some examples of questions CIOs can ask of a software developer:\nOpen-ended questions\n\nWhy are we having service issues?\nIf we didn\u2019t have all these urgent priorities, what initiatives would you consider to be important?\nWhat are the top three problems with this project?\n\nValidation questions\n\nWill this solution work?\nWhat alternatives do we have?\nWhat do we need to learn to make an educated choice?\n\nEstablish a cadence\nLet\u2019s be real. I am not advocating that we involve all developers in all decisions every day. Neither am I saying that a software developer can replace all types of management consultants. My suggestion is that a regular cadence of targeted interactions with software developers will provide a steady stream of fresh ideas.\nExecutives who have mastered the art of \u201cmanaging by walking around\u201d (MBWA) know how to effectively harvest advice from workers on every level of the org chart.\nContrary to conventional wisdom, software developers do know both technology and management. Don\u2019t miss an opportunity to tap into their insights. Try it today!