(Not) Managing Software Developers


If you’re an engineer at a company where becoming a manager is considered a promotion, then you only have three choices: become a manager yourself, or leave, or resign yourself to being a second-class employee. It should be obvious—you can work through the math using three sock puppets—that this is an arrangement that pushes a company inexorably towards mediocrity. The best engineers either leave the company or try their hand at management, often with doubly disastrous consequences: they simultaneously lose the company a great engineer and gain them an awful manager.

Steve Yegge: (Not) Managing Software Developers.

Good article, worth reading. I confess, I’m late to the party though: this was published in May. I was switched on to Steve’s site by the splendid Mr. Congdon who also notes that Steve has recently started at Google. I think we can assume therefore that Steve knows of what he speaks!


  1. Interesting form of the good old "Peter principle". And an illustration of an old economic law stating that the most efficient way to do things is to ALWAYS let everbody do what (s)he's best at even if there is an unbalance in capabilities versus what's needed.

    Still, while we do not all have the capability or the desire to do so, imho there is a 4th option, which is growing towards being able to communicate complex technology to managers and CIO's. In my humble opinion here is a huge demand for those sort of people. If of course that is seen as a promtion too hehe.

    Just my 5 cents

  2. Only one of my previous employers allowed technical talent (engineers, programmers, and developers) to stay technical and not force them into a maangement career path AND treated them as the valuable assets that they were. I loved working there and was quite sad when I had to leave (my choice to leave but it still hurt.)

    The mentoring factor was enough to propel the company along for years.andy b#
  3. How very, very true. I've also seen the same thing happen as a result of layoffs: management just thinks they're getting rid of "unnecessary" employees, but it spooks everybody who survived the cut. So the supposed deadwood get sacked, the cream of the crop leave voluntarily, and the company is left a hollowed-out shell full of mediocre employees, most or all of which are now unproductive because they're looking over their shoulder wondering when they're going to be next.Anon#

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I’m a software architect / developer / general IT wrangler specialising in web, mobile web and middleware using things like node.js, Java, C#, PHP, HTML5 and more.

Best described as a simpleton, but kindly. You can read more here.