Friday, April 3, 2009

Stuck in Code

An ex colleague let's call him.. uhh .. Vivek, who was my peer at MegaCorp many years ago who is presently VP of R&D at [very well known company, a variant of MegaCorp] called up a few minutes ago to see if I could help make a connection to someone he wanted to meet up professionally with. I am fairly well connected in Bangalore, having lived here more than a decade. In the chit chat that followed he asked "So what are you doing right now? " And I answered, "well I was coding when you called ...". His response was "You are still stuck coding!!!?"

Umm.. yeah. Kinda Sorta. I am still coding. I am not really stuck though. "Stuck" implies an involuntary inability to change position.

My last job title had "Program Manager" in it. I've turned down multiple offers to "move up".. I am good at what I do, make more money than many "Directors" and most importantly am happy building systems (vs managing people who do).

I think it is a very *Indian* (or perhaps Asian) thing to expect good developers to "move up" to be managers or directors or Vice Presidents. We are a very hierarchical society and people are very often judged on where we are seen to be on some arbitrary hierarchy. People who work with their hands (or their keyboards) are often considered "inferior".

One of my friends who is an engineer at a Japanese automaker's Indian subsidiary told me about how the visiting Vice President (who was Japanese) rolled up his sleeves and jumped in to fix an engineering problem that had come up on the line and of the hush that fell on the factory floor with the Indian managers looking distinctly uncomfortable.

Specifically in software, when is the last time you saw someone very high in the company hierarchy do a code checkin? My last boss at MegaCorp was hired later than I was and the first thing he said to me when we met was (remember I was also a "manager" on paper), "You know, any monkey can code, but we need good managers". :-).


I think one of the main reasons is that we in India still don't have any local role models for people who made a great deal of money (or had a significant impact on the world) by writing code.

Once we have our Torvalds and Stallmans and Brins and Pages and Grahams and Norvigs "coding" won't be such a dirty word after all.

Meanwhile it is very amusing to see the contortions people go through to (a) deny that they are "just" developers or (b) "move up" to management. The lack of early stage startups doing innovative cutting edge software in India and the preponderance of "India Development Centres" (set up to grind through the crappiest work in the company) contribute to this state of affairs.

Very occasionally the inverse happens. Once upon a time not very long ago I was working alongside a group of managers and there was some discussion about product financial strategy. I was asked what I thought and I went into some detail about the financial break up of a proposed initiative and some of the industry trends we would encounter and the strategy we should (have) adopt(ed). After the meeting, a "Manager(Strategy)" came up to me and said "Hey I didn't know you were in Product Mangement. I heard your title as 'Architect' My mistake". I had to smile and say "No mistake, I am a technical person not a manager, but that doesn't mean I can't read and think for my own". The poor fellow didn't know what to say.

The funny thing is, in the Indian Software Industry, *most* "managers" (or directors or .. whatever their titles are) have no real power within the company at large and their responsibility is just to implement decisions made in California or Boston or Tokyo. The most important game is "climbing the corporate ladder" and the most important subgame is "suck up to the boss". Why would anyone (who has a choice) **want** that life?


At ThoughtWorks, when I worked there, we had an inside joke. Every technical person would call himself "Just a Developer" and there weren't any hierarchies among developers except ones of peer acknowledged competence (though I hear that things have changed and there's all kinds of intra developer hierarchy these days , based more on "years of experience" than skill levels, but that is hopefully just a rumour) .


When teams from other companies would visit us, as the round of introductions progressed, all the TW technical people would introduce themselves as "My name is ... . I am Just A Developer". Sometimes the visitors would get completely bewildered at all the "low ranking" developers attending important meetings, and hilarity resulted.



To conclude, I am "just a developer". I choose to be one of "those people" :-).

Thanks for your understanding. :-)


Update: The point I was trying to make is NOT that managers don't add value. Many of them don't to be sure, but many of them do. And some add very significant value, sometimes far more than an individual developer can, especially in large corporations.

my point was about how people *assume* that one wants to "move on" from being a developer or creator to someone who manages development.

68 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great post! Very interesting insight into Indian culture.

Anonymous said...

Hi,
its an awesome tutorial. In India managerial is ****** up.. Everyone wants to delegate the working responsiblity to so called "DEVELOPER", but at the time of recognition it is the ***** up Manager, who receives the award. and in bad times,manager puts the Developer in the Front, "he has done the wrong coding in wrong times" that's why we are failed.....

***** up...........
great Insight of how the things are going on in management. Be aware managers. Developers are not Low-Level employees, they are the one who are making u'r Chair's stable in the company, without asking any help from u...

gud one dude, cary it on.
abinaus@gmail.com

Ravi said...

"Everyone wants to delegate the working responsiblity to so called "DEVELOPER", but at the time of recognition it is the ***** up Manager, who receives the award."

I don't really have a problem wit this because (a) in India, developers are subservient enough to play this game, and don't push back enough (b) I am amused by managerial antics, I don't hate them.

(BE a manger for a while and you'll see their side of the story, and believe you me, they have it very tough, wih days full of unproductive politics - that's their life!).

To reiterate, hating/despising managers/MBAs/management etc is very counterproductive. "Developers" aren't intrinsically superior to "managers".

My point was more subtle than that (or so I believe anyway).

Venkatesh Sellappa said...

Ravi,

Interesting post.
I have noticed something similar to this but what i don't understand is - why is this an innately Indian phenomenon ? Is it cultural, is it because of the lack of role models, any ideas ?

Ravi said...

"Is it cultural, is it because of the lack of role models, any ideas ?"

I have no idea really :-)

Anonymous said...

Nice write-up about a phenomenon that's been around a while and is not *at all* limited to Indian or Asian companies. (I spent years in IT at a large American bank and saw it all the time.) It's even got a name: The Peter Principle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Principle). The idea is that you get promoted to management because you're good, but then you get stuck there because you're not good at managing people and thus don't get promoted any more.

S├ębastien said...

My software engineering teacher said something very fun (but sadly also quite true) about this: "people tend to climb up in the hierarchy and they do so until they become incompetent, at which point they just stay where they are".

Nisha Pillai said...

Ravi,

This is not at all just an Indian or Asian phenomenon. You'll see this in large companies everywhere - suspect this might be true of any large collection of people, since there always seems to be "doers" and "managers".

Ravi said...

@Nisha,Sebastien, anonymous,

I've worked in both the United States and India (just my perception) the tendency towards hierarchy (and evaluation based on hierarchies) is more pronounced. Even within a company that has offices in the USA and India, the office in India is much more formal and is a deeper rats nest of politics than the US office.

And as I mentioned in the post , in the Indian SW industry we don't yet have many "doer" (Thanks Nisha) success stories, while there are plenty of manager success stories. So maybe that's why. Who knows ? :-)

Anonymous said...

At some large corporation, I worked for in the past, the CTO wrote the entire C++ core himself to replace some old legacy mainframe systems. When the development team size grew out to 20+, he hired someone else to go to some of his meaningless meetings, so he could have meetings with us instead. In any case, he always brought with him his Linux laptop to hack some C++ in VIM during some of his non-technical meetings... just in case it becomes boring. :D

I have to say I had a lot of respect for him.

Ravi said...

"the CTO wrote the entire C++ core himself to replace some old legacy mainframe systems. "


:-D :-D

Ravi said...

@the anonymous idiot who sent in the "auschwitz" comment,

you said,

"Do you dream of a new world order where those who do not aspire greatness be eliminated (let us say send them to Auswitz) "

Jeez someone sure needs some therapy and treatment!

Please, read up on Godwin's law and how anyone who invokes it in reasoned argument should be kick out pronto :-)

Meanwhile, continue watching the bugs crawling all over your straitjacket! The nice men in the white coats will soon bring you the nice medicine which will make the voices in your head go away!

get well soon ;-D

Ravi said...

ok so the anonymous sent in a comment saying

"Apologise for that comment about Auschwitz.It was a playful remark that apparently went awry. If the rest of the comments and questions are not completely irrelevant to any of your posts, please do write a reply."

ok, so the rest of his( ? her? :-) ) "comments and questions" are

Question: Do I think someone who just "works for a living" and doesn't try to excel and just "turns knobs" is a lesser life form?

Ans: No. Everyone is entitled to live their life as they see fit. By extension, on my blog, I am entitled to write what I think fit, irrespective of what anyone else thinks ;-)

Question: Am I an "elitist"?

I believe *I* should strive to be the best I can. If that makes me an "elitist", then I am one. whatever :-).

That's all the "questions and comments" I can find, once I strip all the confused imagery and rhetoric out of your comment.

I find all this discussion of my motivations and inner world state irrelevant to this or any blog post. React to the points made (if you must react), not what kind of person (you think) I am.

Thanks in advance,

Ravi said...

@Hemant,
You make a well articluated comment, but I am not getting into philosophical hairsplitting so I am not publishing it.

No more meta discussion please :-)

Regards,

Fabien said...

The guy was wrong. AFAIK, a monkey (the animal) can't actually type code good enough to pass the compiler test.

OTOH, put actual monkeys in managerial chairs, and nobody will notice the difference.

Ran Biron said...

"I'm just a developer" - and I live in Israel. My observation is that staying where you're good (and doing what you like) is in the minority. Everyone expects me to try to climb the managerial ladder, where the path I want to go is purely technical (following those heroes you mentioned). I'd rather be a Linus then a Bill.

However... I can foresee a time when I'll get tired of "grunt work" - not coding as a whole, but coding uninteresting parts. I do wish there was a place where star developers (which I'm not... yet :) ) would be treated like chefs, with the whole kitchen geared to help them, take away boring and repetitive chores. Until I find such a place, a hat with an "architect" title on it would do just fine.

Anonymous said...

When I was just a developer, I was pretty much just switching off my brain and typing in what the managers told me too. The software was crap because managers lack some of the technical insight that developers have. Any suggestion I made would get turned down as "we can't very well standardize on / use / promote that if we don't even understand it, perhaps when you are a manager you can call the shots but for now just dumb yourself down to our level"

So I became a manager, with a technical background, I lift the developers to my level, but let them do the typing in, I am much more interested in the personal and business aspects of development than the technical anyway. One difference is when the developers suggest something I actually know what they are talking about (and can usually tell them why exactly we aren't doing it that way, when I looked into the issue a while back.)

I love it, I feel like I can actually be effective at developing software now that I have stepped away from the keyboard a bit.

Ravi said...

"So I became a manager, with a technical background, I lift the developers to my level, but let them do the typing in,"


"lift the developers" to your level? give me a break!!

"but let them do the typing in"

This shows you don't have the faintest idea of how software development works.

The idea that someone can do the cool"thinking" and someone else can do the boring "typing in" is a sure fire indicator of the person holdng this idea being completely clueless on how sw development works.

It isn't a coincidence you remain "anonymous" either!



"I am much more interested in the personal and business aspects of development than the technical anyway."

This is the standard excuse parroted by *incompetent* managers the world over! Join the club!



"I love it,"

Why am I not surprised? ;-)


"I feel like I can actually be effective at developing software now that I have stepped away from the keyboard a bit."

Oh a bit? So I am sure you still code everyday? perhaps have lots of open source software out there? please, send in a link!

Look if you want to be a manager, be a manager and a good one. God knows we need those. Just don't be a "developer by proxy"

lift them to your level my foot!

The half life of technical knowledge is very short. the Indian SW industry is full of managers who *think* they've retained their technical skills, but unless you code on a regular basis, I assure you you don't know as much as you think you do.

Your subordinates endure your suggestions, that doesn't mean they don't curse you behind your back.

Thank you for illustrating my point so well. I couldn't have invented you if I tried!

Kuldeep said...

Nice Post Indeed.
Just want to add that sometimes manager who don't know much about technical aspects let you do your work and don't interfere much provided deadline are not streched.


why is this an innately Indian phenomenon

My take : As of now Rewards(financially and recognition)are in favor of Managerial roles than technical ones.As we bridging that gap ,i can see shift in this behaviour as well.

Would be intresting to know if other developing countries(Brazil etc) which are also moving up in the value chain are having same behaviour.

Chaitanya Gupta said...

Nicely sums up the how things are in the country.

Some of my friends think its weird that I don't aspire to become a manager... for some people its very hard to understand that someone could actually like to "just code".

Razee Marikar said...

Nice article. I've put it on reddit, here.

brad dunbar said...

Thanks for saying this. Not enough people do. I got into writing code because I love writing code, not because I wanted to someday stop writing code.

My hope is that my job title will stay very similar to what it is now.

jjsbyu said...

Love it. well written.

Anonymous said...

Not just an Indian thing, same thing here in Portugal, which is unfortunately also a very hierarchical society, where everyone want to parade bragging rights and status.
The funny thing is being looked down by smug people that actually (with luck) earn half of what I do. :)

przemek said...

At Bell Labs, which was arguably the best R&D institution in the world, almost everyone shared the same work title, "Member of Technical Staff". Needless to say, it was a badge of honor to be 'staff' at Bell Labs.

Anonymous said...

Great post. I am Indian in the US for the past 15 years, and I am still actively coding and proud of it!

rax said...

Hi Ravi,

Insightful post.

I worked in Bangalore as a programmer in a 'very big corporation' in the late 90s, then moved to the US for a couple of years, moved back to Bangalore for personal reasons worked there for a few years as a programmer in another big corp and for the past 2 years have moved to the US again.

Why? Because there is almost no opportunity for someone who wants to do real work in the software industry in India - besides labour management. There may be a few good jobs at a handful of companies like Google, Microsoft etc.; but you have to compete with a *lot* for folks for a handful of real jobs (which themselves may be in limited areas); and in these places too if you are still just a developer beyond a certain age, you are expected to move up and 'manage' others rather than do stuff. In most software companies it is very difficult to work undisturbed as a programmer for than a few months. And mostly management technique is limited to maintaining discipline, threatening labour and presenting reports to the few in upper management who do the real management. Maybe because most of the work is outsourced from elsewhere like you said.

The other option is to startup your own company, but there too the system and atomsphere is such that most of your time is spent doing other stuff. The way of making money in a small software or hardware company in India is very different from how it is in the US. Generally it has more to do with labour management, bribing the right people, getting 'contracts' from larger code sweat shops, exploiting government loopholes, liaising with manufacturing in Shenzen etc. My ex-boss who quit at the same time to open his own company tells me this (this boss BTW is an extremely sharp btech electronics guy from IIT kharagpur - one of the few people in his batch who didnt go to the US to do an MS and become a professor).

I agree with you that this is a very Indian situation. I doubt if it is the same with Asian companies in general. Asian countries have product companies who with the best in terms of innovation, implementation and producing real stuff on their own. It may not be through individual brilliance or heroes, but they seem to have methods which work.

I believe the large outsourcing companies in India (including the American ones) are another reason for the atmosphere being what it is and stagnating at that. I guess this another topic by itself.

Amit said...

18 years. Still a code monkey. Currently in Erlang. Loving it.

Sean said...

Ravi,

That was a great response to "anonymous", seriously, I agree, he/she clearly made your argument for you. I see the same type of behavior here in US, however, not to that degree. It may have to do with the fact that in US, we're finally trying to not compete with everybody else, but trying to be better at what we do. In India, the prestige, and social standing still comes into play. Not that being "just a developer" is inferior, but society thinks that if you are "just a developer" after 20 years with a company, there is something wrong with you. They never look at the fact that you might be very good at what you do, and very happy challenging/bettering yourself by being "just a developer".

If you want to be a manager, go get an MBA, and work towards becoming a manager. Don't become a developer, because you want to become a manager, because you won't be good at either.

Very nice post, Ravi, and it was written very well also. I'll have to visit your posts more often.

Sean

Ravi said...

@Sean,
Thanks for the kind words! :-)

Sammy! said...

There is a joke in our development team. It goes like this:

All developers love to play football.

All middle managers love to play tennis.

All upper level VPs and Directors love to play golf.

Conclusion is ... the higher you go up in the hierarchy, balls become smaller :-)

Dilbert said...

The Dilbert Principle: The most ineffective workers are systematically moved to the place where they can do the least damage - Management.
Scott Adams

rane said...

excellent post !! loved the 'suck up to your boss' VS 'lets code' argument :)
The problem in India IMHO is that people write 'Hello World' and get tagged as a developers, the passion part is largely missing. So instead of enjoying programming, they are always looking for ways to get into a 'better roles'. We need a _successful_ Silicon Valley in India for people to change their outlook to geekdom... I think code monkeys can think more logically than the 'managers' and can handle the 'managerial' stuff better ... its just that we like coding better :)

Anonymous said...

In India, the true culture talks about "karma", but the hypocrite culture
that has been developed here in the recent years believes in "dignity of work".

Japanese VP will rollup sleeves to fix problem in machines, but Indian IT manager
will find it below his dignity to debug code, fix bugs, and deploy software, because
he/she does not want to make hands "dirty".

The concept of growth in Indian IT industry is phenomenal, every year each manager
wants a new designation, new post, a new role, and fat salary hike for what?

For working as a clerk and managing a huge head count , typically filling pseudo
excel sheets for status updates, revenue trackers and playing politics.

So an India IT manager is converted to a clerk, why should the clerk be better off than
the programmer/developer?

The bottom line is that in India, there is a social status for being a manager than being a developer
so everybody wants to manage and slowly Indian IT will be full of highly paid clerks who will
create shabby impression of Indian IT as the cheap quality labor for US.

It is better to remain a developer , be innovative, architect solutions, write code and develop solutions that
are more inline with business needs.

L. Mohan Arun said...

I completely agree, people are not understanding 'the joy of coding', and they're unable to 'comprehend' that someone doing 'monkey coding' would be happy doing so, and just would like a pay raise, and not an additional task of 'managing' people. 'Any monkey' with no capabilities can do managing, but 'coding monkey' builds working apps, and thats where the money should be. On another note, I saw a site that says "programmer competency matrix" it was an Indian Nerd site or something of likewise name, and I had to disagree, but there was no where to disagree there, as myself, I know only how to sort an array, and I dont have to remember the complex algorithms - if you know to use Google, and have basic analytical aptitude, that should be sufficient. Good coders are to be judged over a period of time, and a decision cant be reached in 10 minutes of time. Unfortunately, Indian interviewers that I have come across think coding means memorizing all the algorithms and arcane syntax/quirks of particular languages.

Ravi said...

"I know only how to sort an array, and I dont have to remember the complex algorithms "

I sincerely hope you are joking! You don't "remember" complex algorithms and would use google? !!!


"if you know to use Google, and have basic analytical aptitude, that should be sufficient."

Yes of course, I wonder if you'd go to a doctor who googles the patient's symptoms ;-)

"Unfortunately, Indian interviewers that I have come across think coding means memorizing all the algorithms and arcane syntax/quirks of particular languages."


Thank God for those interviewers.

if you don't know basic algorithms amd syntactic "quirks" of the langauges you use, may I suggest you (PLEASE) find another line of work?! You might just be "too good" for management too ;-)

Ranganathan said...

Well said! Nice article.
Same hold good for test-engineers as well. Oh, I dont mean click-link, check-image, click-button kind of GUI testing. People need to understand the difference between this and testing protocols / real-time systems / device-drivers, etc.
In this perspective, developers are unnecessarily glorified and testers are looked down upon

Petr said...

Among developers in Russia "code written in India" is synonym "of unbelievably horrible code". Now I see why.

Shyamal said...

Lovely post Ravi,Its bang on target.
I do agree with your point of having our on Linus Torvalds etc... but I guess somebody will have to start.

And that's is happening gradually.
Probably some of the things may have to be inculcated right at the grass root level in our graduate and post-graduate education system.

Probably this could be one step towards it :
http://punetech.com/peepaal-bringing-industry-and-academics-together/



Regards,
Shyamal

bong said...

Great post, Ravi. I don't know if this is a universal phenomenon although I've experienced this many times over two decades. I think it's more pronounced in larger companies with a distinct middle management layer. I suppose that's the corporate equivalent of social stratification.

I've met good and bad managers. More of the latter, unfortunately. Good managers are just as hard to find as good developers. C'est la vie. And I'm still just a developer :)

Sonny Gill said...

LOL great post and hilarious comments (you know which ones I mean). I just showed it to my wife who is not involved in software development at all, and she loved it too.
My current business card says that I am a "Senior Consultant", I aspire to change that to "Programmer" one day.

vasundhar said...

Wonderful post,
I rarely see managers capable enough to get into project at code level. I am happy that I report to one such gem.

But not all managers are like that... some barely understand programming.

Unfortunately delegating work is fancier that it looks and frees up your head, as the easiest path is path of least resistance ... some tend to prefer that.

I prefer to be logical than authoritative so I code.

shadows said...

>>> I don't really have a problem wit this because (a) in India, developers are subservient enough to play this game, and don't push back enough
>>>


First of all, I join this big-name company, I was told I would be working on Java Enterprise technologies, and my job profile was to "design and code" for a new product they were making.

Instead, I am "stuck" with a 10 year old applet based product which has been touched by maybe over 100 developers. I still do the best job that I can do (and believe me, it is better than developers working on it before me were doing).

Later, the pointy haired boss (ok, he does not have pointy hair) tells me during my appraisal that I am doing what any average fresher does, and that he expects more from me after 4 years experience. I did push him back saying that I have been allocated this work, even I want to do something where I can use my 5 year experience. Of course, the manager does not listen and he says that the product is very good (I wonder how he said that with a straight face).

There were a few similar incidents later when I "dared to reply back". During the next appraisal 6 months later, he threatened to lay me off.

Its not easy in India to fight back against such managers. Being laid off is still a stigma here. And even though this is a big name MNC, the organizational hierarchy is very hierarchical. There is no one I can approach with any genuine grievance that I may have. Even if things come to a boiling point, I cannot prove anything (he threatened me verbally). Neither can he prove that he never said such things, but his word will be taken over mine.

shadows said...

Commenting again...

Yes, I do feel there is a pressure to "grow" in India. There are very few opportunities to grow in a technical direction. Many companies claims they have a technical stream of growth, but it seems like the difference is in the job title only - Tech Lead instead of Project Lead :-)

If you have to grow, you have to manage "code monkeys". The hierarchy does not allow you to gain technical skills and provide technical leadership.

There are many colleagues in my "Western country" development center who have 10+ years experience, married, have kids but still are developers (with varying levels of expertise), paid well, happy with their job. One of them even has his own Solaris server machine at home where he does his experiements. Another senior architect would even ask me to review his code, would review mine and talk about technology in general on IM, without any "senior manager" mindset.

Nikhil Kulkarni said...

I think everyone here is pointing towards culture and slamming the IndianBigSoftwareCo - but truly, how much of the coding done in India in really cutting edge.

Most Indian Soft Co. do software maintenance - where if a manager feels that the coder is replaceable (read: 'any monkey' doing it) may not exactly be far from truth!

This may change as Indian startups and companies do more 'meaningful' work where writing good code matters!!

Ganesh said...

Really interesting analysis of Indian people or rather employee's attitude.
The root of this attitude is to get recognised in society and some extend its true in many societies.

Nice post Ravi..

CPP Dev said...

I kind of wonder if it's partially a generational thing as well, at least here in the US. I've noticed where I work that many from the older generations are more concerned about climbing the corporate ladder than they are about enjoying the code they write. Several of my peers recently turned down a management position to stay in the code, and it seems to be a growing trend.

It seems to be a trend with more senior people at my company as well, but I hope to remain "stuck" in the code as well.

Anonymous said...

Promote the idiots to management to prevent them from f*cking up the software!

Kislay said...

I agree . I agree so much that I wish I wrote a post on this . I have been seeing this since I was in college . The rush to get your MBA as soon as possible . Trying to get a job in a company , just to spend 1-3 years for work ex . Cursing coding , and software development in general because of the lack of good work in India, with the solution being an MBA . Man , I am so sick of it all . All I want to ask these people is , that companies like IBM , HP , Microsoft and Google were not founded by ****ing MBA's !

Thank you , for this kick ass post .

Malli said...

I have 6 years of Ops experience and i'm now doing Program Management Role. I always want to become a Developer. It is hilarious to hearing someone say"i am just a developer". it makes no sense. If an individual doesnt appreicate his/her role, market his / her role then who do you think can appreciate your work. You end up directing aspiring develoers like me to Managerial roles becuase managers are good enough to exhibit thier value. Look, when you know you know what you are doing, i dont think you would say "i'm just a developer". I learnt programming in 1994. Due to wotever reasons i couldnt pursue. Now i want to claim my identity. After being in to Ops and Program Management i know what makes a Good Manager and what makes a good Dev / DBA / Sys Engg / Sys Admin. Every job is crucial and its value depends on those who are doing it.
\/Peace
Mallikarjuna S Kaveti

Malli said...

my o my! i just finished reading "every" comment. This is a great place to watch. Thanks a lot for this post. I'd like to recall what Steve B (MSFT) said "Developers Developers Developers" :). Managers if they look at "management" as a Science(like my mentor Vaidy said), can they really realize the time most of the managers wasted just managing People, some bossing around, some just causing pain, some just hoping to see things falling in place.
\/Peace
Mallikarjuna S Kaveti

Ravi said...

"It is hilarious to hearing someone say"i am just a developer". it makes no sense. If an individual doesnt appreicate his/her role, market his / her role then who do you think can appreciate your work. You end up directing aspiring develoers like me to Managerial roles becuase managers are good enough to exhibit thier value. Look, when you know you know what you are doing, i dont think you would say "i'm just a developer". "

Spoken like a true PHB. Comments like this illustrate my point better than I ever could!

Madhur Kumar Tanwani said...

Thanks! Its a wonderful post and I'll b sharing it with my group of colleagues, with whom I've been discussing the same thing.

I really think, ppl need to get out this i'm-a-coder-i'm-worth-nothing attitude.

Avinash Mangipudi said...

It is a flow against the tide to stick to development after getting X number of years of experience. We have examples from respondents who have endured and stuck to coding/development work. Another example i know is of my dad. He was not from software, but has learnt coding once few years back and has ever since been fascinated by it. He is 62 years old now and he loves coding which amazes me, till date.

Avinash Mangipudi said...

This blog has received so many responses that it is often possible to loose track. Some points that lost track are


1. "i'm just a developer", quote was created, by a thoughtful thoughtworks employee to reflect the sarcastic opinion of the people who de-mean coding or software development, but not to be taken as "feeling aweful to be coder" attitude.


2. Somebody equates this, to an insight into Indian culture and other uses it an opportunity to criticize India, both are not correct.

3. It is not anything bad about managers, in general. As bong rightly said , "Good managers are just as hard to find as good developers."

rishabh said...

Even the so called big companies do nothing cool in india...just low end work.Indian society really need role models.
Any advise for freshers on how to find a startup with interesting and challenging work ?

Rahul said...

Know what guys...this boils down to Dignity of Labour: and its not a oneway street...your boss needs to respect your job and you need to respect his. Im a developer. I have had the oppurtunity to work with excellent managers and some horrible ones. The bad ones always say: "Anyone can code". Watch out for that!

Bobylito said...

I don't think what you are experiencing is unique to India. In France, in most computer services company, this is exactly the same. (and btw I do love to call myself a developper too ;))

Maybe we should create a developper pride network :)

Wulfcry said...

Great post it ad a long lost inner culture within company's the greatest reward is the satisfaction into building something not setting up the table for others you can still do both and it does not make yourself lesser then others going up.
If it turns that way one has to do managing as being qualified I say o.k he/she experienced go for it their needed. Managers are mostly worker grunts going for bigger rewards missing in the end the true value like teamwork ,group education ,involvement.

Bryan said...

Excellent article! Ahh.. on the other side of the globe, I do not feel alone =) Thanks!

Thiago Arrais said...

Ravi, the same thing happens here in Brazil. People are pretty much expected to climb out of the technical jobs. Maybe this helps explain the technical illiteracy of society as a whole.

Anonymous said...

Ravi, Nice article indeed, but i would say thanks that you raised the point.
I am definitely not a even average developer but i love to code and solve problems. I want to stay developer. Thanks for motivation.

Sanjay said...

Ravi, very fortifying post. I myself am a CTO in the last two companies I have been with (in Bangalore), and I am very much like you. Many find it odd. I still actively code - and its great to hear you expressing that same thoughts I feel. If you are in Bangalore we should get together some time.

Siddharth said...

Clearly one of the best posts i've have read in a while. As 'just another developer', its great to see that there are so many people who are passionate about development. I also strongly agree with Rax, Dilbert and others who mentioned that there are a handful of companies that build to make a difference and not just to please a client and the competition to get into these organizations is stiff.

Awesome post again Ravi.

OMFGITSROHIT said...

Great read. Seems very insightful.

Anonymous said...

Thoroughly enjoyed reading this ...
I myself am facing the same situation.
I think I need to act quick so as not to get promoted to a "non coding" post.

PS: Am an X-CETian :)

Bipin said...

Great post and one which Indian programmers need to embrace if we are to get our "Google" or "Microsoft". Before I started mobikwik.com, I always thought its easy to hire some developer and the main thing is putting the business together. I learnt some Java coding in the last 1 year because I was forced to. I belong to the "google the algo" category so I can totally appreciate what a experienced developer brings to the table!

Ghondan said...

Hi,
Thats a very interesting post, thanks.
I feel in fact that that 'coding' may be many orders of magnitude more skilled a job than managing people.
I am a game programmer myself and although it is sometimes a little too daunting, the challenge of finding solving wierd and hard to find bugs is indeed worth the effort.
Nice post once again.
Thanks