Thursday, May 22, 2008

Tech-ladder under Infy radar: challenge is to manage demand-side equation

Infy is undergoing major organizational restructuring (Economic Times, 22-May-2008, “Infosys plans organizational restructuring”). Among other things, providing more flexibility and movement for employees is one of the drivers. To quote from the article: One of the issues it will address is greater flexibility and movement of people within the organization. For instance, it could provide an alternative career path to employees who don’t want to manage people but who are technically competent.

This thought process is laudable. Earlier this year I wrote in “Beware of technical ladder roles” how technical ladder is becoming a popular tool among HR heads to address the attrition challenge of the IT industry. However, organizations need to be careful how they trade the path. I feel that there are 2 major drivers for tech-ladder:

  1. Demand-side driver: If organization can have senior technical specialists, then they can help organization moving up the value chain by solution architecting and technically anchoring complex projects
  2. Supply-side driver: Experienced talent pool needs flexibility in their roles to leverage its strengths

Usually, the supply-side driver is the first one that gets attention and a tool like tech-ladder seems to address it. Until, as time passes, these so called “architects” and “principal engineers” realize that there is no “meat” in the job. This is where, I feel, proper homework needs to be done in defining “meaningful” roles which the business demands. This is what I wrote earlier this month in the article “Creating meaningful technical leadership roles in Indian IT services industry


  1. Hi Vinay, I work in Samsung India software and was recently promoted as Technical Lead. Was bit confused and was googling for help and came across your articles. (Thats how it started.)

    The dual ladder picture says it all. Its the same way I felt in Samsung india. I guess its common in most of the Indian tech companies which are service based. Correct me if I am wrong.

    I wonder how these things work in a product company?(Indian, of course)

  2. Thanks Ravi for your observation.

    Branded product companies in India can be looked at sector-wise: tech, FMCG (HUL, Marico), Auto (Tata Motors, Mahindra, Bajaj). Let's ask three questions:

    1. Do most of these companies have a specialist ladder defined on paper?

    2. Do most of the these companies have specialists?

    3. Do these companies develop & manage technical leadership ecosystem as an important strategic asset?

    My experience tells that the answer to question 1 is mostly 'yes'. Answer to question 2 is also 'yes' but the strength of the ladder (number of specialists) varies in companies. I feel the answer to question 3 is mostly 'no'.

    Partly the blame is on the technical leaders themselves. They haven't stood up and taken responsibility for innovation and differentiation for the organization.

    All the best.

  3. Thank You Vinay for your reply.

    As you said and I also strongly believe in that "Technical Leadership is also a Personal flair/brand", If he/she has enough expertise then other engineers will definitely seek his inputs and help to solve their technical problems.

    My personal experience is that, (Yet to learn myself.) Technical Leader should have a lot of other skills to be able to influence others. He should be a true leader. (I say Gandhiji was a true leader).

    I was going through MIT Opencourse ware on Multi-Core and came across one of the lecturer's web page which describes something like "Worked under fearless leader"..
    URL is