The Illusion Of Technically Competent ManagersFiled Under Human Factors, Software Process
The role of technical manager is inherently flawed by nature.
It is insanely rare that you can find someone who is both technically competent and has the people management skills to accomplish this job – so already you are working against the odds. Jurgen’s recent opinion that most software developers are utterly unqualified for such a position, although it comes off a bit harsh, it is probably just as valid a statement as saying that most people-only managers are utterly unqualified to manage technology.
Now, this is why I believe that the technically competent manager is as magical or mysterious as the Loch Ness…
The attrition rate of your understanding and skills is directly proportional at the rate of which your environment changes. This isn’t like building a bridge, bridges have been the same for thousands of years, thus being promoted to a bridge building foreman it would be safe to bet that your last 20 years of bridge building knowledge will suit you just fine until retirement.
This logic just does not hold true in technology. Although you may have an opportunity to code, you are not coding enough to really understand the quirks and turns that a particular software niche contains as it moves and grows.
Even roles such as being an architect take you away from the basic skills that have caused the promotion. These are all very flawed roles by nature.
Perhaps I have been reading to many Zen or Tao books where the core message is to be truly great at something it must be the single thing that you do. And from that perspective the technical manager will always be flawed since it is two roles in one.