The Engineering Leadership Podcast · Episode 97

The cost of “aspirational mismatches” (and how to avoid them)

with Lisa Dusseault

Aug 30, 2022
If you’ve ever wrestled with technology choices & navigated the consequences of the wrong path… this conversation is for you! Lisa Dusseault (CTO @ Compaas) defines the dilemma of the “aspirational mismatch” & shares real-life examples of how it affects a tech org’s processes, architecture, and metrics. She dives into the frameworks & tools that have helped her work through mismatches, her golden rule regarding “innovation tokens,” choosing the right sized technology for your company, and why tech companies are prone to aspirational mismatch in the first place.
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Lisa Dusseault is the Chief Technology Officer at Compaas. She has built her career solving complex technology problems. After Microsoft, she led internet standards groups at the IETF, and engineering teams at Linden Lab and Stubhub. She founded tech startups Cathy Labs, Klutch, and ShareTheVisit. Lisa holds a B.S. in systems design engineering from University of Waterloo.

"The conversation should have been about when and why this company needed a particular technology choice, not whether a technology choice was good in and of itself."

- Lisa Dusseault   

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  • Defining aspirational mismatch & its detrimental impact on eng orgs (02:10)
  • What “cargo culting” is & why it’s a decision-making flaw (4:18)
  • How aspirational mismatch manifests in eng orgs (5:48)
  • The importance of tech companies asking the questions “when” & “why” (7:39)
  • Examples of how eng orgs experience aspirational mismatch in their tech choices (9:08)
  • Framework for tying your metrics to your org’s business objectives (12:33)
  • How metrics can inform frontline decisions (14:15)
  • Choose a technology that’s the correct size for your org (16:19)
  • The cost of merging & compounding mismatches (19:28)
  • Lisa’s golden rule regarding “innovation tokens” for tech start-ups (21:07)
  • Why eng orgs need a unified vision to avoid aspirational mismatch in processes (23:52)
  • Using epics to communicate company vision (26:37)
  • Where aspirational mismatches come from & why eng teams experience them (29:10)
  • Recommendations for withstanding aspirational technology pressure (32:11)
  • Additional frameworks for working through mismatches (34:33)
  • How to host conversations around realistically planning for future aspirations (37:02)
  • Rapid fire questions (39:55)
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