CTO Sentinel: How to Track Technology Actions Against Company Objectives

7CTOs founder Etienne de Bruin clarifies what the CTO Sentinel is and how it works. He points out that for many CTOs, it can be hard to communicate progress to the C-suite. Not only does there seem to be a constant urgency to achieve company objectives, but there’s also a general lack of understanding of what it truly takes to achieve those objectives. 

Because it’s the CTO’s job to keep the C-suite informed in a way they can fully understand that’s interesting to learn from, involving discussion or questions and concerns, Etienne built the CTO Sentinel. The CTO Sentinel is a simple way to communicate these complexities to achieve company objectives with technology, experiments, projects, build-outs, and innovations. In addition, it’s a tool to help the C-suite keep watch over how technology is used to achieve company objectives. After all, it’s the CTOs primary function is to translate the company’s objections into action. 

Etienne creates an example to fully showcase the CTO Sentinel’s features. In the example shown in the above video, the sample company has an objective of a 20% increase in the adoption of product X. The CTO leads collaboration to determine which experiments and actions need to be taken to accomplish this objective. The following actions are going to be used as examples to showcase how the CTO Sentinel can help achieve the sample company’s objective:

  • Offering a free tier to product X 
  • Strategies for creating stickiness 
  • Better onboarding tools 

Within the CTO Sentinel, we can label the above action items Action 1 or A1, Action 2 or A2, and Action 3 or A3. The CTO Sentinel then breaks down the responsibilities of the CTO into four sentinels:

Speed: Speed is all about driving delivery through engineering teams and unblocking the organization. 

Stretch: Stretch is about thinking beyond the current capabilities, the current technology, markets, and the team. Stretch challenges the organization to stretch into the future.

Shield:  Shielding is to protect the company’s technology, market positioning, team dynamics, compliance, processes, and intellectual property, as well as threats from the inside and outside. 

Sales: Sales is to grow the business through influence and empathy, providing tooling and cross-functional leadership that empowers the whole organization. 

These four S’s are applied throughout the given example. For instance, within A1 which is to offer a free tier to product X. Let’s say a CTO worked with their team on A1’s Speed Sentinel to do the following:

  • Facilitate value stream mapping between the departments to unblock them from any disagreement.
  • Look at a pricing strategy so we don’t implement the wrong pricing structure.
  • Look at infrastructure as several users may sign up for the free tier while also strategizing on implementing an upgrade path for free users.

Within the example for A1 Stretch, the CTO and their team look to a consultant on pricing with peer organizations that’ll offer free tiers. In addition, the team will need to collaborate with the organization’s CFO and get the right paymen