agile Dak design people time management Uncategorized value

Building teams: Developers, not Programmers

If you aren’t in the software development business, this post is not for you.  These aren’t the droids you are looking for.  Move along!

Once upon a time, it was Good Enough to have wicked good coding skills.  Master programmers would hand out assignments to the rest of the team, who would code up the concepts and go their merry way.  However, those times are long gone; not only are coding skills regularly taught in high school (all over the world), but even the higher level skill of programming to specifications, not designs, has become a commodity.

I personally believe that the best answer to the commodification of skills is refactor jobs and skill sets.  With this in mind, I am thoroughly convinced that people who were once content to be “programmers” need to be “developers”– consumate professionals able to solve the “whole problem” and take a design task from concept to production.

The fundamentals of business and career growth remain the same: find a need and fill it.  However, there’s no longer a need for 100% code jockeys.  That’s OK; solving the real problem is more fun, and pays better.  (Anyone who I have worked with over the years will recognize that I’m consistent on this point…and most of them have moved on to bigger and better things.  If you are reading this, do drop me a line or post a comment.)

As always, best regards,


By Dak

Father, leader, writer, scientist, visionary.

Technical software development leader (CTO, VP). Excels when improving and turning around teams, putting better tools and software architectures in place, and getting better outcomes.

3 replies on “Building teams: Developers, not Programmers”

I agree with you, hand coding is a waste of money and time. It is useful knowledge to have, because some things are just easier to get into the code and change or fix, but the fact is if you know how to use most development tools you can do the same job more than 10 times faster.

I build websites, run an online store and a marketing company all on my own, with very little help. I have an accountant, a friend who does web development when I get bogged down, and some people to help out with logos and things like that.

Companies should look for well rounded individuals for their teams.


Le nod. The best teams I’ve worked with have always had people who were good generalists. They’ve also been in small companies with no room for deadwood. I think these are strongly correlated.


Hi Rick, it’s been a long time…and you are right, this comes right out of our experience at SoftQuad, Interleaf, BroadVision, etc.


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