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Geek Speak: When Developers Attack!

Filed Under Human Factors

Angry Geek

There are many personality types within the office, and when in passionate debate, many lash out in defense in different ways. Managers may attempt to pull rank. Sales starts to pull charts and saying it will “hurt the bottom line”. Developers? Developers talk geek.

Much like the elusive African dancing monkey who does a fantastic version of the Electric Slide to confuse their natural enemies; developers have the ability to sway entire debates in their favor by confusing their enemies with technical jargon. After all, who can argue with someone when they have no clue what the other person is talking about?

Admit it – you know this to be true…and you have been guilty of it at least once.

We can’t put feature X into the application because of limitation with in the TCP/IP stack. We have attempted Inversion of Control and Dependency Injection patterns, along with multiple layers of domain abstraction, but we can’t isolate the CLR bug that causes this. The moons of Zulu and F# aren’t in alignment so the hardware gnomes will be sure to come and delete everyone’s files…and this is why we can’t code feature X!

This type of statement is cringe inducing. I despise this type of response for the following reasons:

  • It plays on other peoples ignorance
  • Over-dramatized truths (or lies make it worse)
  • No attempts to help everyone understand the problem
  • Normally installs fear
  • The developer assumes they know the best of everyone (especially the end user)

Expanding on the last point, the most dangerous part of “Geek Speak Attacks” is that when developers take it upon themselves to pull their ‘trump card’, they are gambling with assumptions that they understand the full picture and they know the best action. As you can see, this is a dangerous equation:

(Ego + Fear) x Assumptions = DANGER

…and here is the biggest part of the puzzle. The majority of times I have witnessed this tactic run is not because of the company’s unwillingness to change or compromise but because of the developer’s own fear of change. Next time you find yourself speaking geek – stop yourself, and sincerely look introspective to why you are doing it. Is it confidence or comfort that is causing you to act in this way?

Using another’s ignorance is just another form of blindly steam-rolling somebody. True office leaders do not fight battles with such cowardly tactics. True leaders teach, are honest, and offer guidance and/or alternatives. It is about winning the office war, not talking yourself out of a few battles…

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5 Responses to “Geek Speak: When Developers Attack!”

  1. Dave Aronson on April 7th, 2008 7:11 am

    Re the title, did you mean “When Developer Is Attack” or “When the Attack of Developer”?

  2. Max Pool on April 7th, 2008 7:19 am

    @Dave – Fixed!

  3. Chad Myers on April 7th, 2008 7:33 am

    To assume is to put an ass before you and me. 🙂

  4. Max Pool on April 7th, 2008 7:35 am

    I always like to say, when you assume you make an ass out of u and me…;)

  5. Hector Correa on April 7th, 2008 9:00 am

    As the agile manifesto says: “we value customer collaboration over contract negotiation”

    Great teams typically have a large degree or collaboration between developers and users/business owners/sales (and vice-versa.) They are a single team, fighting the same battles, and working towards the same goal.

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