Be a Code Scout, Not a Rockstar or Ninja

I have yet to meet a coding Ninja or a coding Rockstar. I suspect they might be mythical. My view might be a product of living and working as a software developer outside of Silicon Valley’s bubble, or a product of being a career-switcher, or a product of the skepticism I have for the gendered images we have of “top” or “elite” programmers.

If they do exist, I am not sure I want to work with Rockstars or Ninjas. Are they able to collaborate? Are they able to dialog with me about their code? Are they able to constructively review mine? Can I learn from them and work with them, or are they a force unto themselves?

I am not saying that all software developers need to work on teams or that there are not excellent individuals in our midst. But if I am looking for a new job or recommending an acquaintance for an open position where I work, I ask myself: what kind of team do I want to join or build?

And the answer is pretty simple. I want a Code Scout Troop.

You are probably raising a skeptical eyebrow, but hear me out. My ideal development team would include individuals who have specific interests, passions, and talents, but who can work together and who generally have respect for the code they are working on. Scouts are known not only for their individual efforts (think of the projects that people do to become Eagle Scouts or earn the Girl Scout Gold Award) but also for their group service projects. I desire to be a developer who can make a strong personal contribution to the project, but who can also work effectively with my teammates to produce something great.

Being a Code Scout is not a perfect or fully inclusive metaphor, though I think it captures the ideals of excellence, teamwork, and service in a way that the terms ‘Ninja’ or ‘Rockstar’ do not.

I am here to say that I would be happy to be in a Code Scout Troop with you. Let’s go leave the code base better than we found it. Let’s Be Prepared with testing. And let’s be considerate to our communities, our coworkers, and ourselves. We can even have some cookies along the way.