Jason Gorman describes (in a very nice manner) how software courses are lowering the bar. It’s up to us to keep the bar higher.
I agree completely. Yet what happens with scrum certification in the last years, has started long before. We’d like to think of software as a craft and development as a skill. If that was true, there could be a big change in software quality, cost of maintenance will drop, and customers around the world will be dancing and singing hallelujah.
Software, like anything, succumbs to supply and demand. The bad news is that most developers are average. As with every large population, we can rate them all on a bell curve. With age and experience there’s a shift to the right (more good developers), but against that, new inexperienced developers come in (more bad developers), and some leave the trade altogether (all kinds). So most of developers remain “average”, economically speaking.
Companies don’t want software to be developed by average developers. They would like them to be excellent. But those excellent guys cost a lot, because they are in short supply, and the recruiting takes ages.
So the next best thing: Get average developers and get them to a better level. There’s a risk that when they become better, they’ll leave for a better pay somewhere else. That’s economy for you. But usually companies understand that the risk is much lower than the risk of going out of business because the developers remain average. So how do they do it?
The traditional way is training. They bring in a great trainer, pay him a lot, and let him do his thing. And then they expect some ROI. Turns out it’s a recipe for disaster.
The problem is that a few days courses really can’t raise the level of developers. But that’s not all: In fact, there’s a bigger problem. Organizations can’t really calculate the ROI, since they can’t evaluate the current level of software skills, can’t measure the training result, and how it translates to actual business. That’s because the people who organize these courses don’t understand the (low) value of courses. Or software altogether. The disaster comes when expectations crash, usually on the heads of the developers.
Ah, but where ignorance is abound, there’s money to be made. There are many who offer courses from HTML to CSM (or the “learn 3 languages in 1 day” Jason described), because there are many companies, who don’t understand software, but are willing to invest in what they think will give them a competitive edge. Cue the crashing sounds.
Software takes a long time to learn to do right. At least a few years. Good software people know that. They can actually raise the bar for recruiting and training other developers. They can train new and average developers to become better.
But mostly, it doesn’t even make a dent in the whole software economy. Most developers are average, and raising the bar to their level just means more average developers. It’s just mathematics.
Of course the developers reading this blog are not only above-average – they are also smarter, taller and more beautiful. To you I say- raise the bar. Get as much as you can from the software economy.
Just as long as you remember there’s a big system in play. Set your expectations realistically.
The numbers are against us.