The CTO's role encompasses more than ever before, especially becoming more strategic and customer-facing. Should a CTO still program/code? Why or why not?

1.4k views2 Upvotes11 Comments

Chief Information Officer in Healthcare and Biotech, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
CTOs should not code as part of a project deliverable. But should code in general to maintain some understanding of application architectures
5 2 Replies
vCIO, Infrastructure Architect, Manager in Services (non-Government), 1,001 - 5,000 employees

What if your CTO primary skill set is in Infrastructure, and a director or VP takes care of code? Should that CTO still take part in the Infrastructure side?

Chief Information Officer in Healthcare and Biotech, 1,001 - 5,000 employees

It depends… Often the size of the staff will dictate how “dirty” the CTO should get his hands. However, the CTO should NOT take part in the infrastructure coding for cloud environments. Networking as code requires a very specific skill set and is best left to the CTO’s team.

Group Chief Information Officer in Construction, 5,001 - 10,000 employees
More important than coding is to keep the big picture and the alignment between technology and business, it’s too expensive to make a Chief coding he needs to lead and put strategy
CIO in Education, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
I don’t think a CTO should still program/code. My expectation is that they are either working strategically or operationally focused on keeping everything running smoothly.
CIO in Consumer Goods, 11 - 50 employees
CTO in my opinion is a strategic role with respect to products and its technology roadmap. CTO role is increasingly getting engaged with stakeholders including customers to understand the expectations and experience ecosystem, this helps him/her to bring right technology to the organisation.
All things C-Suite in Energy and Utilities, 2 - 10 employees
I’d say this depends on the size of the organization. Startups- yes for sure otherwise cto is a superfluous resource. Larger established companies, probably not as there are so many other things to do, that you would be a bottleneck and stress yourself out.

Cto should be someone that coded at some point, but I find it’s not necessary to code as part of my role.
CISO in Finance (non-banking), 201 - 500 employees
No day to day but a deep technical understanding is definitely valuable. Hard to really communicate about a technical subject of the depth of knowledge is skin deep.
Director of Engineering in Software, 11 - 50 employees
If it's a startup, and/or the team size is in single digit, then yes, he/she should be putting some time working in programming the system. But once the number of people in the tech team increases to a double-digit, then he can reduce the programming time. 

In larger teams, CTO need not put the time in programming, but he/she should put the time in developing/understanding Infrastructure and system architecture of the product/service. And it should more on strategic decision making.
CTO in Software, 11 - 50 employees
It all depends of the company size. In a newborn startup coding is almost a must, but as the strategic challenges grow she must learn hot to delegate and let it go. Accept that the required skills are changing to leadership (the Leadership Pipeline is a great book on this). For large companies, I don't think it makes sense, but it's good to have the geek king of CTO that at least is coding as hobby. I once asked a similar question to Uncle Bob on Twitter. His answer was to always keep coding in order to keep up t date with new technologies.
Director in Manufacturing, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
Continuous learning is important for all leaders.  I believe if you don't have a general technical understanding of the subject matter you can't be the best leader possible.  I've met leaders who actually bragged they didn't have any technical knowledge, and felt they were 100% effective.  In my opinion they managed the budget and the HR processes well, but their teams were not as successful as they could be due to the non-technical leader committed to timelines and projects that were obviously understaffed and/or technically not feasible within the budget.

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