IT Chimes Blog

The Relay Race Called IT Development

May 21, 2013

Recently I was fortunate to spend a couple of hours with one of our mentors in Mumbai. Apart from all the gems he shared, the one which striked me particularly was “Business should be a relay race. BD (Business Development) should hand over the baton to the operations so they can run forward and not run in isolation.”

I think it is time that I explain it at length for all, in my organisation and outside, so we all can benefit from it and use our resources more effectively at our respective organisations.

relay race

Imagine Your Departments Running In Tandem Like This.. Image from

In the relay race, a team player running at one point of time, is not the only one responsible for winning the race. It is important for all the running partners to play their part well with precession and speed so the TEAM may win. The business of web development, or any business for that matter, is just like that. Think about BD, Development, Quality and Client Servicing to be the 4 members of the running team. Now even if one falters in its role, there is no way the team will win the race. Also if one member singularly does their role really well they can be appreciated and will get a pat on their back but never will be on the winning side. It’s more like “Tendulkar made a century again but Indian eventually lost”. The bigger goal here is not Tendulkar reaches 100 but India wins the match.

One thing you also would have seen in the relay race is that when one player is handling the baton to the second player the second player already has taken off from the starting block so the first player don’t have to stop to give the baton but he can pass it over while the second runner is already in a motion. There is much to learn from this. When BD is running and handing over the baton to Operations/Development, ideally the operations/development should have taken a start and get motivated to work on the new project and warm up by doing their study. Similarly BD will have to run a few extra steps when they hand over the baton to ensure the operations get it right. But the baton passing has to be precise. If the first runner does not do that and the baton falls, think how much time they lose in the race and the other team wins.

Also to see is that when the first runner passes the baton to second runner in a few steps his jobs get done and he can sit and relax and see how the other team then performs to make the team win. I don’t see this happening with many web companies. I see here the BD actually keeps running with operations through the development phase. So what they are doing is that while the baton is passed the first runner is actually running parallel to the runner who has the baton in his hand to make sure the baton does not fall. This means even though he has nothing to do, he is not in the race any more, he does not even have the baton, he does not even have to pass the baton to the third runner but still he is running parallel with development. What wastage of precious resource!

But once we learn the trick of effecting relay racing, once all 4 members run in sync and do the job, sooner or later they will all come together and win the race cumulatively. Simple things in life teach us for a lifetime, isn’t it?


Faiz, from the content creation team, asked me a very pertinent question. Let me quote him, “will that not be aimless running for the development runner as BD needs to explain things before he(the dev guy) can make a leap start?”

I touched this question in the essay, saying “ideally the operations/development should have taken a start and get motivated to work on the new project and warm up by doing their study.” but wasn’t too elaborate about this. So I add the following.


There are a couple of things which Development team can do. Of course they can not start working before a project comes, I know that’s absurd, but they can do the following two points at least.


1. Dev team can make sure they handle their resources better. They should know what resource is getting free when so they already are in the warm up mode and in action when they have all the info.
2. Dev team needs to do some preliminary study about the trending technology etc which probably come handy sooner or later. Like, knowing HTML5 would certainly be helpful as that is a trendy technology and sooner or later the BD team is going to pick those projects. Though dev team might not have the complete info they get some warm up done about the project which they will be getting their way.


We at Saffron make sure we are running a relay race and all members of the race are in sync and focused to the common goal – Win the Race!

Gaurav Sabharwal is the Business Head at IT Chimes. He is an avid blogger, and likes to pen his thoughts about building, managing and leading teams in IT, top-level decision making and time management. Find him on Twitter @GauravSabh

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