An illustration showing a person startled by a stack of colorful containers symbolizing different aspects of a 'Frankenstack.

Modern work: The Frankenstack and How To Overcome The Monster

Here’s how your day goes: You get a notification on Slack asking you to check out a Gong recording before a Zoom meeting. There are also changes in Figma and GitHub to review. The meeting will be recorded using some AI-powered tool and a link will be circulated with the transcript and archived using Zapier or whatever your overworked PM is using to distribute the notes nobody will ever read. It’s not even 9am and you have interacted with half a dozen apps and who-knows-how-many cloud services. 

If you feel like you’re losing your mind, then you’re not alone. 

Workers are not working. They are fussing.

We’re all juggling dozens of tools in the hope that we can get stuff done. The problem is that when we add a new tool, we rarely sunset the tool that came before that and we end up managing a stack of tools that overlap, interfere, and slow workflow to a snail’s pace. 

All this is a symptom of the poor impact that leaders and their teams have on work. According to the latest McKinsey surveys, if you’re in a leadership role, about 50% of what you do will have little to no impact on the business. That means 50% of your time goes to waste, which can be really frustrating when you’re already feeling overworked. However, this is not unique to individuals in leadership positions. Many of these same concerns are expressed by PMs, designers and engineers. 

To create valuable outcomes, we need to be doing less with less. The proliferation of specialized SaaS products is cutting into the bottom line and creating obstacles to getting work done. We need a subtractive mindset

A Power Shift is in Play

It is obvious to everyone in product development that teams are spending too much time using compartmentalized technologies. As we have seen over the last few years, the real problem with having lots of tooling solutions is that we have to hire lots of people to manage those tools, maintain the tools, and train us on how to use those tools. Most organizations have dozens of DevOps, DesignOps and ProductOps people dedicated to tools and processes. 

In the pursuit of efficiency, we’ve transferred power to managers and their tool supervisors so that actual producers have very little authority. Producers now spend most of their day administering their tech stack and almost no time creating. We can see this in the market today and it can’t continue. 

Paradoxically, while companies were handing over power to the DevOps and DesignOps teams, they also started cutting roles in these areas. Stack consolidation and a reduction in the number of people that manage those stacks is already happening. We’ve reached a tipping point and the market is responding. Tech companies have already laid off 40-50% of their workforce, and it looks like they are not done yet. We’ve over-hired, over-tooled and over-promised. Now we’re paying for it. 

Audit Your Tech Stack to Get Your Time Back 

But there is light at the end of this tunnel. Opportunities for both integrated platforms and stack reduction meet at a point that suggests we’ll have fewer tools and ops to manage. Here are our recommendations for auditing your tech stack and making choices that will give producers their much needed time back. 

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