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