What would you like your software developers to learn?

I posted this question on LinkedIn this morning, and have already received a ton of answers. I thought it would be good to ask here, too.

As a manager, what would you like the software developers under your management to learn? This might be knowledge of some specific technology, some software engineering skill, some other skill or knowledge, or what?

Your answer doesn’t have to apply to all of your developers. Pick something that will make a noticeable difference in your organization’s effectiveness. And please be as specific as possible.

Of course, some of the answers were general advice rather than specific things at the answerer’s organization. But where the answers were specific, I typically followed up with two more questions.

What steps are you currently taking to help developers learn this?

What steps do you think you should take, but aren’t yet, for some reason?

I’d like to hear your answers, either as comments to this blog or privately in email.

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Comments (4) to “What would you like your software developers to learn?”

  1. 1. Learn the business. How do we make money? How do our customers make money by using our products? Why are these features important?

    2. Sort of a variation of Don’t Repeat Yourself (DRY) in code but Don’t Do It Manually (DDIM) with business processes. Are you collecting metrics manually? Are you doing builds manually? Are you setting up/tearing down manually?

    Automate it and never do it again.

    3. Don’t get attracted to shiny objects. It’s easy to go down a technical rabbit hole because something is cool & new. Keep focused, stay on the task at hand. When the core work is done … go play in the woodshed.

    4. Don’t make broken windows. There is a business process for a reason. If you aren’t contributing to making it better or maintaining it, you are making broken windows. Before long the process fails and it’s chaos.

  2. Executable requirements and other agile best practices.

  3. Zeb, Tim,

    What about the followup questions?

  4. I want the people I manage to get from what the customer thinks they want to what they need and can use.

    I do this by getting them to put something into the customers hands as fast as possible, no matter how simple, and iterating from there. I get them to focus on workflow improvements rather then adding shiny things!

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