The craft, vs the administration of the craft…

For quite some time, I’ve been puzzled about how much energy, focus and attention our software business today places on what I’d call the “administration” of software development, and how little focus, relatively,  there’s on the actual craft of software development...

For many years now, superior careers have been made by folks who claim to know how to “orchestrate” systems- and software development;  requirements experts, process experts, organizational experts, team collaboration experts, CM experts,  management experts, analytics experts, “big data” experts, cognitive computing experts, financial experts, marketing experts, bean counting experts and other empty suits,  but less and less is heard about how to do the actual craft of software development itself: things such as architecture, design, programming and test.  Basically, the careers made today within the software business are made by those who barely could craft a “hello world”-program without help….

It seems to me that in order to make a career today in the software business, you should focus on knowing all the correct buzz words in the world of processes, team collaboration and management (“scrum”, “agile”, “lean”… anyone..?) , but you don’t actually need to know anything about the actual craft itself, i.e. how to design and write a computer  program that actually can solve the problem for you.  Abstractions, algorithms, data structures, concurrency, patterns, computation, h/w dependencies, I/O, throughput/performance, Edit-Compile-Debug-Test,  etc … anyone…?

Let’s go back to basics for a while: everybody and his mother claims that software is increasingly the most important aspect of business success for the future; ok, if that’s the case, then I’d suggest that the most important factor to succeed is to have people who actually know how to create software, i.e. how to architect, design, implement and test software, that is, folks who are deeply skilled in the “craft” of software development.

Let’s get back to basics a bit, let’s give some cred to those folks who actually know how to create software, asop to exclusively giving cred (and stellar career’s) to those who wouldn’t know a bit from a byte, but are more than happy to tell real programmers how they should work….!

Then we will of course need folks to product manage, coordinate, and “monitor” the craft, but in my book, those folks, the “process” and “mgmt experts”, they are secondary to those of the true craft, and in my book, these folks are pure administrators, like those who keep track of the exec’s calendars in large organisations….


About swdevperestroika

High tech industry veteran, avid hacker reluctantly transformed to mgmt consultant.
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3 Responses to The craft, vs the administration of the craft…

  1. Yeah well, ok. I agree these people are “secondary” to those who really know the “craft” but we can not completely write them off – some sections of your post seem to suggest it and some does not by the way. And let’s also consider the peculiarities of of some of the best SW developers/architects etc, like falling in love with their own code, forever looking for the perfect algorithm and ignoring that they DO live in a world in which projects have to be driven forward, where there is an financial reality etc. I do agree that the balance is too much in favor of the “admins” these days, but let’s not write them off completely.

  2. Mikael, hear what you say… Question: been to any customer meeting lately…? If so, heard anyone bringing up the value of the craft…? I’ve been to 100eds or 1000snds of customer meetings over the past few years, and it’s very rare that anyone mentions the “craft” anymore… all talk is about “process”…. But then again, what would I know, I’m a simple hacker… 🙂

  3. I assume that you have been to most of these customer meetings at primarily one, very large, client? Large organizations tend to go the way of process, as you know. Even though it’s a tragedy that those who depend on quality SW leans towards the peripheral processes…

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