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February 14, 2006

Article: The best developers are built not bought

When you get right down to it, the best way to acquire the most talented developers for your project may be to build them, not buy them.

In reading about agile development, I’ve been struck by the fact that both traditional software development techniques and agile methods rely upon highly skilled developers to ensure success. It’s no wonder that there’s a focus on the best developers given that it’s generally accepted that the level of performance for developers with similar experience can differ by a factor of ten or more. A great deal of development is still done in what is called “hero mode” development, where a developer or a small group of developers essentially will the software into existence through their dedication and tenacity.

So while the evidence is overwhelming that you need good developers, the question remains, where do you get them?

Article: How Software Development is Like Fast Food Restaurants

I’m not a big fan of fast food restaurants. Their food isn’t always healthy. The menus are necessarily constrained so that it’s easy to get bored with the food they offer. While I’m not a connoisseur of great foods, I know that gourmet and fast food don’t often get used in the same conversation. Most attempts to make fast food gourmet have failed miserably.

However, I end up eating from a fast food restaurant a few times a week. Why is that? Well, because it fits well with my schedule, it’s convenient, and strictly speaking it solves the primary problem. It is food and after eating it, I’m not hungry.

Software development has many of the same issues as someone going to a fast food restaurant. Everyone agrees that there are healthier ways to eat and better ways to develop software but in the end, they settle for what is convenient and what works within their constraints, be it time, money, or something else.

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