Doesn’t everyone want to be the one that chooses?

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Published 11 October 09 01:23 AM | Johan Hedberg

Lazy? Perhaps. But bad? Unfair!

IT departments and consulting companies alike are not populated by bad developers, or lazy developers, or impassionate for that matter. The word passionate is appropriate for developers or architects that do keep in sync with all the new choices available to us. Pragmatic may very well be a good definition for the rest. But calling them bad developers wont motivate anyone, and, in my opinion, is unfair. Keeping that up to date is not a task necessary for all developers. But all developers could benefit and grow from doing so.

The developer isn't the problem

However, as I see it, the problem isn't with the developers, the problem is with management. Developers want to learn. I think that applies to most if not all developers. The problem however is two fold. One, Developers are not given the time need to learn by management to be able to make educated choices. You really have to be passionate to take that learning outside of your working hours, and push that passion onto your family and friends, to the point where it's not just your job - it's become a much bigger part of your life. That's why I think the word passionate fits.

What choice is there?

So if you aren't given time to learn as part of your job, you really have very little choice. The choice left is instead to do it in your free time or not. Two, even though Microsoft may sometimes claim that new choices are driven by business demand, and I'm sure it often is, it's often not driven by the business that you as a developer are supporting. What I mean is - the people manning your business will not always (and do not often) see how the new technologies benefits the business. The use for the business is often visualized to them by the developers, and this is where the real issue and catch 22 lies... 

It will never be the same again

This increased flow of choices is in itself the root of the problem. Developers used to know it all. Management has gotten used to that. Today, the technologies to learn are so many more and diverse. We will never know it all again. But we can become fairly good and know enough to be good at our job. But we need to be given the time and possibility. Given that, I think everyone would choose to learn.

Focus on management

So, my call to action is to instead shift the focus from the developers, whom I'm believe in general want to learn, to management and the business, and make them understand how enabling people to learn new technology will help them realize their business goals. Because I do firmly believe they will benefit.

This post was my thoughts on the topic initiated by the duoblog done by Johan Lindfors and Patrik Löwendahl. Oh, and incidentally, we’ve been here before. I wrote about this topic, or one very close too it, as a result of things said or written by close to the same people a year ago, see here and here, if interested.

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# Patrik Löwendahl said on October 12, 2009 09:43 AM:

I agree that management is to blame for part of the problem, however I don't agree that all developers want to learn.

My personal experience is that there is two types of developers;

The first type understand that this profession has changed, they know they have interested in learning and moving forward.

The second type do not understand, they use arguments like "this worked in cobol so why change?" (valid question but not one without a heap of answers). They think that since it works to hit a screw with a hammer it is good enough, why even learn to use a screwdriver.

These are the same people that whine on dotnetrocks and makes statements in computer sweden that it's to complex when there is three choices for database access.

Management is to blame in the sense that they need to steer these type of developers in the right direction. But developers are still bad developers if they don't realize that this is a part doing the best job for each delivery.

# Jan Eliasen said on October 13, 2009 10:56 AM:


I seem to agree with both Johan and Patrik. I also think that most developers want to learn, but I can also see why it can become very difficult to keep up with the rate of change we are experiencing.

But the main point is, that if you do not keep up (and are not so old that you are retiring in the next few years anyway) you need to move with the flow, or your skilld will no longer match the market.

So I do not put the responsibility into neither the management nor the developer - but think it is a combination. Management need to be very clear about how they see the amrket moving and what skills will be needed. And developers will simply have to move along or find another job. But with that said, off course, the management then needs to pay for the education needed.

Basically, if your cheese moves, you need to find new cheese! :-)



# Mikael Håkanssons Blog said on October 13, 2009 01:52 PM:

Johan Lindfors and Patrik Löwendahl did a duoblog titled “ Everybody wants choices but nobody wants to

# Johan Lindfors said on October 14, 2009 10:18 PM:

Great discussion, keep it running!

# Johan Hedberg said on October 16, 2009 07:36 AM:

A good webcast that comes close to commenting on this topic. That is, everyone cannot keep up to date with all the latest technology, not even Michelle... You need to specialize...

Also, a workshop to consider if going to the PDC. It's either this or the Azure workshop for me.

# Johan Åhlén said on September 19, 2010 12:50 PM:

There was a discussion about a year ago on Swedish blogs about why developers don't adopt new methods

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