I’m not a witch doctor nor a sorcerer. I’m mostly likely a woodworking lawyer. — Part 2

Previously, I talked about how’s Shawinigan is planning to be the next Silicon Valley. I’ve also touch on the fact that the lack of understanding of software development as a profession my throw a wrench in that plan, i.e., not enough people understand what it does therefore there’s little traction for people to train as one which make really difficult to staff an organization with a software development need. I’ve also promise to explain the funny title of this serie of blog posts.

First, let’s make good on that promise. From what I gather, the general opinion of a programmer is basically equivalent to what a native american might have toward his tribe’s shaman/witch doctor/sorcerer. For most folks, a programmer is a guy or girl that does a bunch of seemingly complex esoteric things that a few seems to understand and the result of those incantations is that stuff happens on computer screen. While there’s few that might revel in maintaining a mysticism about the profession, let’s face it, beside insuring your job security as a developer, it doesn’t do much. I would even argue that’s counterproductive to everyone because:

A non technical coworker won’t understand what you exactly do, therefore he cannot appropriately communicate what he expects out of you and you spend more time and energy trying to understand what he wants than you could actually spend if he knew what you do. Not counting the occasional frustration he/she might get when you tell him/her that’s not technically possible given the current state of things and that you cannot fulfill his request as he/she intended.

Because you’re not vulgarizing your profession, you contribute negatively towards increasing the number of developer being trained, which impeded the economic development of where you live ; Less software businesses are founded because they cannot staff their engineering teams, so there’s less possible job openings which means less tax payers… You get the idea?

So here’s my first tip to a non technical employer of a programmer : think of your employee as either your custom cabinet maker or your lawyer. She’s/He’s the person that you should go to if you have a information management problem. Our main job is to build a (set of) tool(s) that makes business management easier and smarter. Just like a cabinet maker makes a tool (a cabinet) to help you organize your stuff, we do the same for business information. And like a lawyer, we’re here to help better understand some information, e.g., customer behaviour, social media commentary, and help you to take action on that information. I’ve had a business analysis courses that kinda taught me how to break down business practices into a series of steps and how to optimize those steps from a information management standpoint. If you deal with a good programmer/analyst, he might increase the efficiency of your business even before he/she has started to write a software product, simply because she/he had a good look on how you deal with the information you collect (or don’t collect) and how you transform (or don’t transform) that information into an actionable practice. The good old adage of “Knowledge is power.”

Ok, that enough for today. Next time, we’re probably going to talk about empathy and what it means as a technical person.