Tech leadership is a delicate balance

The Harvey Nash Tech Survey 2019 is out. From a leadership perspective, it’s packed with useful findings. It’s not all pleasant reading, but it just might help you improve.

Since 2013, The Harvey Nash Tech Survey has dug deep into data of the tech sector. The the recently published survey of 2019 is no exception – with 2070 respondents from 73 countries and with 242 different job titles, it is one of the largest tech surveys in the world. Aptly titled ’A delicate balance’, this year’s survey focuses on getting the right mix in the increasingly diverse, interactive and changeable world of technology. These are a few of our favourite findings.

Foster great ideas (and beware of the zombies)

Every innovation begins with an idea. Identifying, testing and developing promising ideas is key for any tech company. But how effective are today’s organisations in doing this?

26% of the participating respondents feel their organisation is ‘very effective’ at identifying innovative ideas. Another 50% believe they are at least ‘quite effective’, making it around 76% in total. When it comes to testing and proving the value of the idea, the amount of organisations who feel that they are ‘quite’ or ‘very’ effective decrease somewhat, but still amounts to a total of 67%. The final step is scaling up of proven ideas. Here the success rates drop further to 61%.

Roughly speaking, when you link all of these numbers you get a 31% chance that a great idea will be identified, tested and scaled up to at least a ‘quite effective’ degree. If you strive for being ‘very effective’ (and you really should), the chances of a great idea making it all the way through is a mere 1%. Needless to say, these numbers are in dire need of approving.

“How effective is your organisation at the following activities relating to innovation?”


On the other end of the scale, 37% of organisations state they are ‘not very’ effective at stopping innovation projects when they are not working. The survey calls these poorly performing projects innovation zombies – sucking time and effort away from the ones that could work.

An organisation’s ability to effectively identify and develop great ideas is ultimately a question of leadership. Which brings us to the next finding.

Lost visions?

Only 20% of the survey’s respondents feel their leaders are ‘very effective’ at creating a vision and strategy for their organisation, while 37% feel they are ‘ineffective’.

When it comes to communicating these visions, large organisations have a tougher time than smaller ones. In organisations with over 100 employees, 15% of the respondents agree that the leadership team is ’very effective’ at communicating visions. In organisations with up to 100 employees, the numbers are 24%.

It may come as no surprise that the bigger the organisation, the harder it is to effectively communicate visions to all employees. Regardless, the survey clearly suggests that all organisations need improving.

Being a leader is tricky in any type of organisation and the tech sector is no different. The Harvey Nash Tech Survey 2019 might serve as an eye-opener and help you improve. At the end of the day, leadership is indeed a delicate balance.

If you wish to discuss how we can help you develop the digital leadership in your organisation, do not hesitate to get in touch.