Pace of Change Leaves No One Competent

Kathleen Dollard has a really good editorial in the May 2007 issue of Visual Studio Magazine – I very much encourage you to read it here.

It’s main point to developers is that we have to find each our niche – or perish. The golden age of the IT-hero, the single developer who is fluent in all technologies available on a PC, has come and gone. Time for Mr Know-it-all to retire.

This is a very comforting observation. I recently made a list for myself of all the methods, technologies, products, acronyms, CTP’s, etc that I really thought I needed to look further into – just on the MS stack. It was rather terrifying, because there is more, even today, than I will probably be able to fit into a whole lifetime, even at at fairly shallow depth of knowledge.

One could argue that MS suffers from Googlemania, with new products popping out of every hole and crevice seemingly at random. But it is not necessarily a bad thing, we must simply accept that as a new world order, and reap the benefits from the information age where choices are limitless.

So what we have to do as developers, I think, is to pick and choose – and then mix and match: become much better at integrating in teams (preferably agile, of course), and acknowledge that others may know more about specific issues than we do ourselves.

Becoming teamplayers is for the developers, but management must also be aware that hiring “a programmer” (or even worse, a so called  IT-expert) who can parachute in to solve any IT-problem is no longer an option. Again running self managing, cross-functional teams is the answer.

A certain granuralization is already observable in the job-titles we developers have. It will be interesting to see when this specialization will begin to manifest itself in other areas such as Computer Science, where universities (at least around here) seem to think that it is still possible to churn out M.Sc.’s who are simply “IT-experts”. 

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