AKF Turns 10 – And It’s Still Not About the Tech
March 23, 2017 | Posted By: AKF
The caller ID was blocked but Marty had been expecting the call. Three “highly connected” people – donors, political advisers and “inner circle” people – had suggested AKF could help. It was October 2013 and Healthcare.gov had launched only to crash when users tried to sign up. President Obama appointed Jeffrey Zients to mop up the post launch mess. Once the crisis was over, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its postmortem citing inadequate capacity planning, software coding errors, and lack of functionality as root causes. AKF’s analysis was completely different – largely because we think differently than most technologists. While our findings indicated the bottlenecks that kept the site from scaling, we also identified failures in leadership and a dysfunctional organization structure. These latter, and more important, problems prevented the team from identifying and preventing recurring issues.
We haven’t always thought differently. Our early focus in 2007 was to help companies overcome architectural problems related to scale and availability. We’ve helped our clients solve some of the largest and challenging problems ever encountered – cyber Monday ecommerce purchasing, Christmas day gift card redemption, and April 15th tax filings. But shortly after starting our firm, we realized there was something common to our early engagements that created and sometimes turbocharged the technology failures. This realization, that people and processes – NOT TECHNOLOGY– are the causes of most failures led us to think differently. Too often we see technology leaders focusing too much on the technology and not enough on leading, growing, and scaling their teams.
We challenge the notion that technology leaders should be selected and promoted based on their technical acumen. We don’t accept that a technical leader should spend most of her time making the biggest technical decisions. We believe that technical executives, to be successful, must first be a business executive with great technical and business acumen. We teach teams how to analyze and successfully choose the appropriate architecture, organization, and processes to achieve a business outcome. Product effort is meaningless without a measurable and meaningful business outcome and we always put outcomes, not technical “religion” first.
If we can teach a team the “AKF way” the chance of project and business success increases dramatically. This may sound like marketing crap (did we mention we are also irreverent?), but our clients attest to it. This is what Terry Chabrowe, CEO eMarketer, said about us:
AKF served as our CTO for about 8 months and helped us make huge improvements in virtually every area related to IT and engineering. Just as important, they helped us identify the people on our team who could move into leadership positions. The entire AKF team was terrific. We’d never have been able to grow our user base tenfold without them.
A recent post claimed that 93% of successful companies abandon their original strategy. This is certainly true for AKF. Over the past 10 years we’ve massively changed our strategy of how we “help” companies. We’ve also quadrupled our team size, worked with over 350 companies, written three books, and most importantly made some great friendships. Whether you’ve read our books, engaged with our company, or connected with us on social media, thanks for an amazing 10 years. We look forward to the next 10 years, learning, teaching, and changing strategies with you.
Scalability Workshop in New York
April 19, 2017 | Posted By: AKF
AKF Scalability Workshop – New York
September 13 - 14, 2017
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Our workshop is designed for technology executives who are responsible for delivering highly available and highly scalable technical platforms & products. The principles we share can be applied to large organizations and start-ups alike. Our principles are technology-agnostic – we believe you can successfully scale with almost any technology if key concepts are followed. During our two-day workshop, you’ll participate in sessions that integrate our experience, research, and the work we’ve done with over 350 clients since 2007.
How is the workshop structured?
The workshop is delivered in 14 collaborative sessions over the 2-day event. While a member of the AKF team will lead the discussion in each session, much of the interaction comes from the participants themselves. We keep the session size limited (maximum of 25 attendees) so that each attendee can be an active part of the conversation, share experiences, and ask questions from other executives who have been in your shoes. You’ll leave the workshop with principles, tools, and examples that you can continuously apply to your platform and organization.
Who should attend the workshop?
Our event is designed for current CTOs, VPs of Engineering, Chief Architects, and other technology executives who want to improve their management, leadership, and technology skills. We help companies scale their technology and product platforms. Although nearly any technical organization would benefit from the lessons shared in the workshop, our sessions will provide the most value to companies that use technology to deliver their core product or service (e.g. SaaS, eCommerce).
What topics are covered in the workshop?
• The CTO Role: A discussion on the diversity of expectations and responsibilities from the 400 companies we have worked with at AKF Partners.
• The Right People & Roles: Ensuring the right talent is placed in positions for success.
• Management & Leadership: The skills of a transformational leader and highly effective manager.
• Conflict & Innovation: A discussion of good and bad conflicts in organizations and how to increase innovation.
• Multidisciplinary Agile Teams: Building innovative teams with diverse experience and skills.
• Team Goals & KPIs: Setting goals, metrics, and KPIs for Agile teams to ensure success.
• The Experiential Chasm: The widening gap between business leaders and technology leaders and how to close it.
• Service Delivery Mindset: The most successful technology organizations are structured with a service oriented mindset and we will discuss how to transform your organization and mindset.
• AKF Risk Model: Our viewpoint of risk and how to manage it successfully in your architecture, people, and processes.
• Highly Scalable Architectures: An in-depth look at creating highly scalable and available architectures
• AKF Scale Cube: Our approach to designing highly scalable architectures.
• Creating Fault Isolation: The importance of isolation for availability and time to market.
• Architecture Principles: An in-depth look at the top architecture principles and how to apply them.
• Processes for a Learning Organization: The most effective processes to put in place to create a successful learning organization.
Who will be teaching this workshop?
The workshop will be delivered by AKF Managing Partner, Marty Abbott, as well as AKF Partner Drew Morrell. Marty, along with Mike Fisher and Tom Keeven, helped found AKF Partners nine years ago with the goal of leveraging their successes (and failures!) as technology executives to help other companies prepare for and achieve hyper-growth. To date, AKF has helped over 350 companies across 18 countries make progress towards their scalability goals (including many leaders in the internet industry). Marty and Mike have co-authored three books: “The Art of Scalability”, “Scalability Rules”, and “The Power of Customer Misbehavior.”
When and where is the workshop?
The workshop is covered over two days: Wednesday, September 13th – Thursday, September 14th.
The workshop will take place here:
Bryant Park Hotel
40 West 40th Street
New York, NY 10018
Registration Coming Soon!
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AKF Interim Leadership Case Study
March 21, 2017 | Posted By: AKF
Read about one of our success stories in which we filled an interim CTO role at a marketing subscription company in New York.
AKF Long-term Case Study