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Stewart Sims
Stewart Sims

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You are more than code

If you're a software developer, it's good to occasionally remind yourself that your value is so much greater than lines of code, a product or a feature.

It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that your productivity can be measured by the code that you ship. But code is just a bunch of zeroes and ones. Even if you think in terms of software products and features: they come and go with time.

However this does not mean your achievement or the difference you make ultimately amounts to nothing. Because you are in the business of enabling people to do things and not just by writing code. No developer 'just codes'. Wherever you are in your career to some degree you work with machines, and to some degree you work with people.

So if you have a day where you haven't pushed any changes or closed out any issues, it probably just means you spent time working with people. Whatever your current role entails every time you hash out requirements, support a customer, mentor a colleague or learn something new that is creating value.

Your code doesn't represent you, YOU represent you. And it's important to look at your work through this lens because it helps to realise you've probably achieved a whole lot more than you sometimes might allow yourself to believe.

Top comments (4)

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gualtierofr profile image
Gualtiero Frigerio

In our industry is really difficult to measure productivity. You can't just look at how many lines of code a developer writes each day, and even counting the number of issues he is able to close during a week isn't meaningful.
That takes me back a few years when I worked as a contractor in a big TLC company. Employees had a part of their wage variable, based on certain goals. For developer it was down to how many issues they were able to close, or the average amount of time between being assign to fix an issue and releasing the path.
It was bad for them, and ultimately bad for the company. I remember tickets bouncing back and forward between devs, as nobody wanted to be assigned to an issue unless it was the sole responsible for it. It was stressful for them, and sometimes I volunteered to work on some of the tickets, after all my wage wasn't affected by them so I didn't mind having a a few tickets waiting for my input.
Same company, same team, I remember one of the boss saying "yeah the fix should take 2 lines of code so I expect it to be ready in a few hours". He obviously didn't know the "few lines" were related to communicate with an FPGA, good luck debugging those in "few hours".

Sorry for the diversion, but my point is the performance of the whole team, and the company, are more important than evaluating developers only on productivity, and is better to have leaders who respect them and have at least a clue of what their job is all about.

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stew_sims profile image
Stewart Sims Author

I completely agree. Creating an incentive (increased pay) based on some metric of developer productivity is a risky strategy. For example if they measured productivity by time from issues creation to making it into a release, surely that creates a motive to make changes and release them as quickly as possible: not necessarily a good thing!

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gualtierofr profile image
Gualtiero Frigerio

Either they released a fix quickly or as I said they tried to assign it to another developer. I remember hearing people arguing about that "hey, why did you send the ticket back to me? I'm going to send it back to you" and so on. Bad for team morale, so bad for the company.
If you need to measure time in such a way because you think your developers are not working hard enough I guess you have a bigger problem to solve

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seunoyebode profile image
'Seun Oyebode

Thanks man, needed to read this today.

Spent a quarter of my day fixing an "error" I had actually fixed the first time, only needed to clear the cache.

Spent the rest of the day and fixing an error where are yet to discover where it came from.

Working remote, I'm almost feeling like I didn't do anything for the day.

Seeing this just lifted me.

I'm so saving this for multiple re-reads.

Thanks once again

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