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iolo technologies - Product Development/Management Executive of the Year

IBA12 Gold Stevie WinnerCompany: iolo technologies, Los Angeles, CA USA
Company Description: Crowned the Fastest-Growing Company in the U.S. in 2010 and 2009 by American Business Awards, iolo technologies produces award-winning software that repairs, optimizes, and protects Windows computers. Founded in 1998 and headquartered in Los Angeles, iolo technologies has presence in 40 countries and 6 languages, 36 million users worldwide, and hundreds of awards from industry analysts and media.
Nomination Category: Products & Product Management Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Product Development/Management Executive of the Year

Nomination Title: Lars Oleson, Executive Director of Product Engineering

Tell the story about what this nominee achieved (up to 500 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms. Be sure to mention obstacles overcome, innovations or discoveries made, and outcomes:

Under the leadership of Lars Oleson, Executive Director of Product Engineering...

-American Business Awards 2012 finalist and part of the winning Management Team of the Year as crowned by both International and American Business Awards in
2011- iolo technologies’ engineering department handles all product development and management for the company’s line of 8 products in 6 languages.

Lars Oleson, believes in Tao Te Ching’s leadership advice “when his work is done, the people say, ‘Amazing: we did it, all by ourselves!’.” In that spirit, Mr. Oleson joined an award-winning product department which had successfully shipped software for 12 years, winning 50 product awards and achieving 85% market dominance in the US alone – and set out to make it even better. Two years later, the department had achieved product process improvements upwards of 600%, garnered close to 60 new product awards and 30% more happy customers – all the while, with Mr. Oleson’s careful management and mentoring, believing they did it “all by themselves.”

Rather than focusing on high level management organization changes typical of a new leader, Lars got into the day-to-day process and habits of the individual departmental contributors first. By understanding how each discipline was doing its job on a daily basis, Lars identified important informal process ingrained in the culture and introduced some changes to that process that had low resistance and high impact, securing early wins and building credibility and confidence to lead more change. After only a few months at the helm, Lars had the buy-in from the entire department at a grass-roots level to help them identify changes that would boost its success.

When Lars finally introduced major changes, they seemed organic. Because of reduced logistical speedbumps, the feature development was happening faster and multisite integrations took place more frequently. Department members began asking that status meetings take place more frequently. Lars formally introduced Agile/Scrum after the department had already begun working in this mode. These changes added up, and last year’s results increased exponentially:

1. Accelerated international release schedules from 6 months to 60 days.
2. Improved project predictability window from 12 weeks to 4 weeks.
3. Shortened time to market for large, breakthrough innovations from 12 months To 5 months.
4. Introduced early planning phase to develop ideas 2 months earlier than in previous lifecycles, improving alignment, predictability and quality.
5. Adopted Agile project management practices, increasing productivity and product quality.
6. Merged bug tracking tool with the tracking of new work, leading to significant quality improvements, when small but annoying bugs of years ago efficiently got fixed alongside new work in the same area of code.
7. Improved quality through obsessive advocacy and process discipline.
8. Authored patent applications for Program Accelerator and Energy Booster.
9. Built new facilities exclusive to engineering; collocating development and QA, improving communication and teamwork, reducing distractions and improving productivity.

With process improvements upwards of 600%, new facilities and better tools, the department has successfully accomplished yet higher product quality and even more cutting-edge technological innovations. Yet, departmental morale, cohesiveness and drive are particularly impressive. Amazingly, the team does believe they did it all by themselves.

Provide a brief (up to 100 words) biography about this nominee:

As executive director of product engineering and part of Management Team of the Year as crowned by both International and American Business Awards in 2011, Lars Oleson leads all software development and management at iolo technologies. Lars was formerly head of engineering for Symantec, where he led engineering for Symantec Endpoint Protection, the third most frequently installed paid software after Microsoft Windows and MS Office worldwide.

Previously, Lars invented products for Sun Microsystems, cofounded a hydroelectric energy startup, and cofounded and sold an electronic medical record systems startup. Since graduating from MIT in 1999 in Electrical Engineering (in 3 years), teams under his watch have grossed over $5 billion.