Build People, Not Software

“Focus on the team and the software will build itself.”

I’ve been watching a lot of basketball recently. Lately, it’s been hard watching my favorite team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, get crushed by the Golden State Warriors in the finals but it has taught me a lot about teamwork. It has also proven that basketball players and developers have a lot in common. All developers are different. All basketball players are different. They each have unique skills and talents that allow them to help or hurt their team. Teams of developers could learn a lot from the NBA by letting each member do what they do best. The end result is that the team is happier, the software is better, and everyone wins. Well, except the other team that is.

Fostering each team member’s unique interests and strengths is the key. All developers have their own story about how they got into the industry. We all have different passions within the industry. Some of us have been programming since we were kids and graduated with a degree in Computer Science. Others, like me got into the game on a more winding road. I still remember the first time I built something with code. It was magical. All of you developers out there know what I mean. If you’re a team leader, you have a responsibility to keep that magic alive. A passionate team is a winning team. In an industry where burn out is common and “new technology fatigue” is rampant, making sure your developers like their job is worth its weight in gold.

So please, if you’re in a position of leadership, ask yourself if you’re building people, or building software. I’m convinced that unhappy teams build worse software and that the secret to having a good team is viewing it as a group of individuals with their own unique paths in life. So, do the world, and yourself, a favor and help your developers grow. Your customers and your team will thank you for it.