Development: a Human Centric Activity

Originally published on Linkedin

This Industry has come a long way. Automated Deployment, Configuration Management which scales to 10,000 servers an upwards, can all be managed by a small dedicated team of professionals. Code is often auto-tested in the various frameworks & techniques available. From waterfall to continuous deployment. We have come a long, long way in our march to doing business, at the speed of thought.

This however is not a post on how we have grown, but it seeks an answer to an Important Question.

Are we leaving something important behind? If so, What?

We have moved past the industrial age. We need to look at our process and methods of working, and bring them up to speed. We can now track loads of information, and analyse metrics in more ways than was ever conceivable. That's all good, we need to still learn to use it wisely. People are not statistics & numbers, and certainly not machines.

Machines do one thing well, Repeat a set of tasks, usually towards a pre-determined outcome. That is what we love about them.

What they cannot do, is think for themselves. That is where people come in. Machines are the tools, which people use to get the job done. We need to keep reminding ourselves of this.

Too often, there are processes in place which emphasize the other way around. From who we hire, to how we work with those that we do. Ask yourself, how much of the "old-fashioned" human element is present in your process. Note here, that a person forced to perform a set of tasks blindly does not meet this need.

The real beauty of a diverse culture, is that we can have multiple trains of thought and many of them could be right. Everyone knows someone, who at some point in their career knows their task could be performed better. There are times when we need to take the time to listen, we would often gain a very valuable insight.

Without getting into buzzwords, the techniques of how to achieve all this is ever present. Too often however, we mistake the methods for gospel truth, and follow blindly assuming the needs are met. Even the best amongst them say, that these are a set of guidelines to start from, and to build from there. They are the foundation stones for building further.

The cherry on the cake, is that what seems wrong at first, could also be right, and at times be a more efficient way. Exploration after all, was made by those who choose to venture out into uncharted territory. They made the mistakes, they learnt and we all benefited.

Here is where the modern methods really stand out. A process of try-fail-learn, which previously took months and years, now could take weeks and days. This allows us to focus on the micro details and tie up loose ends better than ever before. Many of the leading companies of today, are already doing this, and doing it well. Are you?

The cost of not making mistakes and learning from them is priceless.

In our march towards progress, we are sometimes in danger of losing this important aspect of what makes all this work.

What will that cost us as a society?