A Critical Ratio That Every CIO Should Be Thinking About

Healthy technology functions achieve the right mix of Thinkers, Doers, and Watchers.

A Critical Ratio That Every CIO Should Be Thinking About

Thinker/Doer/Watcher (T/D/W) is an analytical framework we’ve developed to help clients understand the composition of their technology workforce and quickly identify areas of improvement. Based on scores of projects across a wide range of industries, the T/D/W framework analyzes the ratio of different types of roles within a technology function, dividing them roughly into Thinkers (who provide strategic framing, vision, and prioritization), Doers (who produce output, and have their “fingers on the keys”), and Watchers (who oversee and facilitate processes and communication).

In our experience, Doers tend to comprise up to 75% of the tech organization in companies with more advanced technology functions. This group includes developers, engineers, testers, and other operational roles. Watchers include business analysts, project managers, and the management team; ideally, Watchers make up less than 15% of the organization, because the shift to modern ways of working has reduced the need for such roles. Thinkers—a group that includes product managers, data scientists, and architects—should make up about 10% of a technology workforce.

While not a perfect instrument or a hard-and-fast rule, T/D/W analysis helps technology leaders understand their often huge, varied, and dispersed workforces, by categorizing them in smaller, more manageable groups. This can help pressure-test levels of overhead, bureaucracy, and skill-sets in the organization.

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