How Great Developers Rebel

Having now had the pleasure of working with several people who I count as great developers I believe I have spotted a trend. This trend is what helps them become great.

The trend: great developers rebel

They rebel in a very specific and secretive way. When a great developer is given a task to do that they can finish with time to spare then they will take longer on the task.

I believe this is true of a lot of people. However, great developers use this extra time in an interesting way.

Great developer's take time to learn

They will spend the extra time learning new things instead of finding other diversions.

This is their rebellion. Great developers steal time allocated for work and use it for learning.

Encourage the learning

Only by rebelling like this can they keep themselves on the cutting edge and constantly feeding in new ideas. Only by doing this can they really add the extra value that makes them great.

Not all great developers like doing research in their spare time. Nor should they have to. If it adds value to the business then it should be done in office hours.

Call to action

Managers: please, acknowledge that this happens and give your developers some time to actively and openly learn (and discuss with their peers).

Developers: if you do this (even if it's just whilst you are "compiling") then please leave a comment with your thoughts :)


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Colin Howe

I'm Colin. I like coding, ultimate frisbee and startups. I am VP of engineering at Conversocial