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Why Real Software People Don’t Fit In Your Corporation

Forrest ChristianComputers/IT Leave a Comment

“He’s a real software developer,” I told her. “It’s not just that he’s ‘in a different league'”, I said. “He’s playing an entirely different game.”

I was sitting with a business lead who oversaw a large IT project. She and I were talking about the best people on the team. I mentioned that Ivan was clearly the best we had.

Rodika looked at me queer.

“Easton?” she asked. “The big guy with the funny jokes?”

“Sure,” I said. “Easton is the only real software developer in the bunch. The rest do a solid job of coding. But he’s doing something entirely different with what he’s doing. He’s one of the most talented coders I’ve run across.”

“Easton? Are we talking about the same guy?”

It was clear that we didn’t have a shared understanding. Easton was well known for being Most Likely To Fall Asleep In Your Meeting (he never actually did). He seemed to tolerate these things. It’s not that he was unfriendly: he just seemed to be waiting for you to catch up.

I realized that what was obvious to me (that he was waiting for us to catch up) was opaque to everyone else. In my eyes, he was the only one of them that really cared about software.

The others did this as a job. They were company men, so to speak. They cared about doing a good job, but it was focused on being part of the organization. They spoke the language of the organizational work.

Easton spoke about work differently. When he spoke, he used words as concepts to describe work. He didn’t just do Object-Oriented Programming: everything he did was object-oriented. This means that he natively works abstractly, abstracting from things or real-world into a conceptual representation of it.

This is what natives of the Disciplinary domain of work do.

The others on the team weren’t stupid; they simply didn’t think of things that way. They hear the internal users say what was wrong and think, “We need to create a solution that will solve this for multiple instances of the abstaction X.” They hear it and think “How can we solve this problem that they have?”

That’s two different ways of thinking.

Easton had gotten good at hiding his passion. When he understood that you understood him, he started sharing it. I think that he had discovered that Organizational Work people would shoot him down when he started talking about the need to code correctly, the roles of objects, how spending the time to do this right today would pay off substantially in a few months.

It’s not about respect so much as it is about speaking the language.

And he uses words to talk about work differently than normal Organizational people.

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