• Directing vs. Enabling

    Fowler has a few interesting posts on his blog regarding enabling attitude and directing attitude.

    There’s no such thing as choosing one or the other; they are two extremes that you have to find a balance for in your software team. I’ve both wasted time attempting to direct the untalented/unmotivated and provided excessive direction to those that didn’t need it. Hopefully I’m getting better at metering out each in appropriate doses.

    These days, I’m lucky to have a small enough team that we can selectively hire, but I feel for larger organizations that don’t have that luxury and find themselves needing to fill a seat due to the sheer volume of work. Sooner or later you can find yourself forced to compromise and hire somebody that might get the work done, but ultimately will do more harm than good. No level of direction will save you from these guys; you’ll either be looking over their shoulder all the time (in which case you might as well just do the work yourself) or will take a peek at their work occasionally and wish you’d never hired them.

    The Orlando tech market is unfortunately stocked with mediocre programming talent, especially for Java programmers. This is mainly Sun’s fault. The original J2EE spec was so badly conceived and over-marketed that almost every Java developer with any work experience has been trained in the J2EE way: start with the manufacture of an anemic domain model, tie it inexorably to the container, and sweeten the deal by making it impossible to test. Couple this with the sheer volume of Java projects undertaken by nearly every organization on Earth (most of which were led by non-technical managers with no respect for/understanding of solid software development principles) and you end up with a pretty sorry state of affairs.

    I’ve been fortunate to either know or find some good talent in our murky local talent pool, but it can take me months of tedious interviews to hire for a single position. For the future of Highwinds, I’m hoping that as we continue to grow we can support a co-op program. It’s sadly true that the most talented engineers don’t tend to use traditional recruitment means to find work, so you have to find them while they are still young, impressionable, and in college and snap them up before anybody else gets to them. I’m being overly sinister of course, but getting the first shot at hiring somebody from college in exchange for a few semesters of apprenticeship under a seasoned team strikes me as a good deal for everybody involved.

    And once they are on board? Let the enablement begin.

    Category: Uncategorized | Tags: