How to build high-performing engineering teams that boost GCC success

India accounts for over 45% of the Global Capability Centers (GCCs) in the world, with leading multinationals setting up engineering teams in the country. The reasons for this increasing interest goes beyond just the cost arbitrage and include available and plentiful talent, a thriving innovation ecosystem, experienced leadership and adequate government support amongst others. 

Aside from positive environmental factors, GCCs, to make the most of the opportunity presented need strong, dynamic, agile and high-performing engineering teams. Below are the five tenets of building high-performing engineering teams that boost GCC success: 

Alignment on business vision

Success in the digital era depends on organizational alignment; the glue that binds teams together in their collective journey towards business goals. Yet, alignment often starts and ends with senior leadership (sometimes negatively) impacting org-wide collaboration. 

To truly have organizational alignment, GCCs need effective leaders who are able to combine ideas and opinions from across a wide group of stakeholders and distill them into a plan to achieve organizational goals. GCCs also need to have values and purpose; critical business elements that when strategically developed and embraced at all levels, help organizations harness resources, skills and innovation effectively. Transparency is also an essential value that has the power to turn apprehension into trust, hesitation into action, and division into alignment.

Adaptive leadership with autonomy

According to a survey by The Economist Intelligence Unit, 88% of executives say that organizational agility is key to global success. Businesses need to be agile across three levels — operational, portfolio and strategic — and adaptive leadership is critical to that. There are four critical components to adaptive leadership. 

  • Improving speed-to-value – Agile engineering is about delivering value early and often, with every iteration. 
  • Having a passion for quality – Adaptive leaders create a virtuous cycle for their teams of building high-quality products > accelerating delivery > decreasing pressure > and repaying debt. They set schedules and reasonable deadlines focused on the quality of delivery.
  • Doing less – More work does not always equal more value. Adaptive leaders know where to focus and how to prioritize. They know that distributed teams can end up working odd hours and become overwhelmed.
  • Engaging and inspiring teams – A crucial part of adaptive leadership is to inspire teams to greatness rather than motivate them to mediocrity.

Communities as a competitive advantage

It’s observable how people learn by teaching others or engaging in a two-way sharing that enables colleagues. Communities serve to strengthen engineering excellence in every individual. Communities serve as catalysts in the ever-evolving technology market by growing internal capabilities and external relationships. These communities also act as sounding boards for ideas, prevent reinventing the wheel and inspire people on their career journeys.

Distinctive talent with a mindset for innovation

Innovate or stagnate is a stark reality for today’s enterprises. Organizations at varying degrees of digitization are aligning their digital journeys with their businesses’ core goals. And as these digital journeys progress, adaptive leaders are realizing the benefit of re-energizing internal teams and providing them with the right tools to develop new ideas and products. Such innovation-led cultures succeed when ‘tensions’ challenge the status quo. And, this requires a willingness to experiment, co-create, to accept failure, take risks, appreciate non-hierarchical structures and strengthen team spirit — across the board and not just at the leadership level.

Corporate – Startup collaboration is an important and viable strategy for companies who want to extend the boundaries of their innovative capabilities. And, for such collaborations to flourish, global organizations will have to establish the right processes and culture by leveraging the GCC model. A good place to start is creating a formal program for scouting promising startups, evaluating them for suitability and acquiring and funding these collaborations. A programmatic approach with well-honed processes can enable companies to scale their innovation capacity quickly – to be able to create global innovation centers, while also ensuring their partnerships align with the broader growth strategy.

Design and leverage GCCs to accelerate the digital journey at HQ

Today, technology is no longer a support function. In the increasingly digital world, global enterprises realize tech is the engine that drives future success. Tech leaders expect advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR), Internet of Things (IoT) etc., to be critical drivers of revenue and innovation. A growing number of multinationals are turning their GCCs into tech innovation hubs that accelerate the digital journey at the headquarters.

As the world grows increasingly digital, GCCs will play a key role in shaping the future. High-performing engineering teams will become the driver of that journey. Success will belong to those who can innovate, collaborate, execute and evolve. This needs a consistent focus on people, processes and technology.

The article has been written by  Ankur Dang, Head of GCC for Thoughtworks in India

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