The visionary Dane rethinking IT’s role

Jeppe Hedaa is a man on a mission. After having worked in the IT sector for more than thirty years, he began to feel that things could be better. Much better. IT development was underperforming, or so he felt, and so he embarked on a quest to unlock the true potential he felt was yet unrealized. With his company 7N and a select group of veteran thought leaders, he set out to demystify IT – to peer inside the black-box of IT and to create transparency. With his Nucleon formula, he is paving the way for IT as a new creative, strategic force.

Pay it forward

When you hear Jeppe Hedda talk about high performance and horsepower, you could be led to think that Jeppe Hedaa is a fervent Top Gear enthusiast. In a way, he is, although his ‘gear’ is IT. And, to continue the analogy that he himself coined, he wants to supercharge IT development and unleash higher performance that can transform IT into a strategic business tool 

He’s passionate about his subject matter and firmly believes that IT might soon evolve to become one of the most creative departments of an organization… with the help, that is, of something that he has christened ‘Nucleon’: a formula that delivers a hard performance number and reveals the optimal manner to radically improve IT development capacity. This ability to potentially elevate team effectiveness and boost project performance is one that makes senior management sit up and take notice. The Nucleon formula and the approach to its implementation is Hedaa’s positive contribution to the IT business that he loves. Through facilitating dialogue and providing insights, Nucleon creates a common focus that helps prioritize efforts and improves IT team performance management.

Early inspiration

Hedaa’s motivation to improve IT performance stems from work conducted by his father, who, after a successful business career spent turning companies around, became a professor at the Copenhagen Business School. While attending on some of his father’s lectures, he learned about the benefits of taking an intelligent approach to performance. He became fascinated by the impact that capabilities, motivation, opportunity structure, and even luck, could have on performance – expressed in the formula: [p=f(c,m,o,l)]. 

The takeaways were evident: working directly with employees could help them develop their capabilities, improve motivation and provide them with a better opportunity structure. As a result, luck becomes less important, and performance improves. If management moved its focus from the left-hand side to the right-hand side of the equation – that was where the magic could happen. 

This was Hedaa’s introduction to causal thinking – a discipline that would drive his future ambition: analyzing the key drivers of high performance and constantly seeking a greater understanding of influencing factors. Moreover, as his career in the IT world progressed, he came to realize that for the logic-minded individuals working in IT development, causal thinking was essential to be able to understand why they were doing what they were doing: these high functioning teams demanded a considered approach.

The human factor

This is especially relevant in the highly complex environment of IT. By its nature, the IT department is a black box. Those external to the department often lack insights into the highly technical nature of the work that is conducted there. Consequently, management focus comes to rest on output, the left-side of the performance equation, and frustrations arise when the department continually asks for additional resources and misses delivery deadlines due to the highly complex nature of their work.

Hedaa knows that the key element in IT development is people. He also knows that they are the single biggest influencing factor on performance generation in the entire setup. Measuring human performance, on the other hand, has always been a tricky business. Existing methodologies such as function point analysis don’t delve deep enough to produce insights that enable strategic alignment with other key departments in an organization.

The appliance of (7N) science

When conducting performance evaluations, large corporations all too often use forced rankings to estimate employee performance. This means that within a team of five people, the team manager needs to have a 5, a 4, a 3, a 2 and a 1. However, when reorganization comes around, and people need to be made redundant, the ‘low-performing’ 1 and the 2 will be the victims. True to his character, Hedaa calls this a ‘bloody disaster’. “In reality, due to this implementation of forced normal distribution, what you may be doing is getting rid of a 9.6 and a 9.7.”

“Even the most advanced companies, that are allocating a number to employees on how efficient they are, are using the wrong model when they are doing that. Our model gives them a much more accurate vision of how good their people are.” This move requires a change in mindset from the C-suite to the project management and on to HR, moving toward a more intelligent evaluation of employees and team performance.

Hedaa’s formula for success, is, literally, the Nucleon formula:

The desired effect

Hedaa contends that what he is doing is certainly not rocket-science. “There’s nothing new under the sun,” he comments. “What is new is that we can calculate the effects.” Through the Nucleon formula, Hedaa and the Nucleon team can now calculate effects and apply values. To reach this point, they evaluated thousands of reports, pored over empirical studies and academic papers and analyzed all the discussions around these different topics over a two-year period. “We now know, quite solidly, how each factor affects productivity, so we’re saving a lot of time. The people factor is the mother lode in application development,” states Hedaa confidently.

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In Nucleon, Jeppe Hedaa introduces the first formula to measure the factors that hold back an organization’s IT performance, along with the most impactful areas for improvement.

Download a chapter for free

In the book Nucleon, Jeppe Hedaa introduces the first formula to measure the factors that hold back an organization’s IT performance, along with the most impactful areas for improvement.

Justine Welby
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