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On Developer Hiring: The Elephant In The Room

The software industry is obsessed with hiring. Every week we get new articles on the topic on how to snag those mythical 10x developers.

The elephant in the room is that most developers can do most corporate jobs, so perhaps hiring is just not as important as we give it credit for?

Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate what a great developer can do, and have worked with them in the past. In certain contexts, these guys can do great things – deliver high quality code in volume that delivers tons of value for the business.

The issue is that a lot of the work we do simply doesn’t require superstar developers. If you are working on some CRUD app or moving messages around then there’s somewhat limited scope for a great developer to apply their talents.  She is then effectively operating at the same standard as their peers.

Even where innovation and high quality code can really benefit the organization, many organizations place a limit on how far the talented developer can go. Be it politics or process, both conspire to slow down the developer and prevent him from operating at full capacity of his talents.

The net result is that even average developers can get by OK in the typical software job, and that the talents of the 10x developer go to waste in the typical organisation.  The range at which we developers all operate is normalised.

When the right developer comes together with the right organisation it can be magic, but I do think that we focus too much on hiring, rather than say solving some of the above organisation problems which could help your existing developers reach their full potential.



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