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Making of a professional software developer!

I came across an interesting lecture on professional software development by Robert Martin, a promotion part of video lecture series on clean code. I would recommend every software developer, and aspiring ones, to listen to. I believe that you will find this as quite thought provoking, and inspiring, just as his many other lectures are.  You would find it gently nudging you out of comfort zone into challenges of evolving into a true professional

Head count of manpower involved in software development has multiplied manifold from the time I started my career in software development more than two and a half decades back. Technology involved has changed, and software development environment has changed as well. World of software, and its role in the world, too has changed quite a lot since then…. and, as software reached out to every walk of life,   complexity and expectations too has increased manifold.

As we have reiterated many times over, software is essentially a construction in mind in first before it is executed in computer. It gets created in the minds of users, customers, developers, testers, … and often these do not connect breaking dynamic equilibrium of balance as software evolve. Making it still harder, complexity and disconnect increases exponentially with increase in the number of minds involved. It does not make any sense to wish these complexities away. These are here to stay. It can only get more complex and challenging, as we depend more and more on software.

Key to being a professional is to get on top of these. That is, a true professional would stand up for what he believe in, what he likes to do, take up the initiative, own up the commitment and deliver to the commitment. A true professional will see commitments as extremely important, not a casual word. We work as we work as a team, and a whole chain of commitments depends on your commitment. Many business, and many lives, depends on it and if commitments are not honored all of them are affected. It is your responsibility to see that commitments made by you are honored within time, budget and quality expectations.  That is, you are absolutely in charge of the situation, rather than its victim.

Note: Video of interviews with a super star from Indian film industry and another one with a master batsman from Indian cricket embedded here, both worked their way up fighting many odds. Both are involved in a profession which calls for individual excellence and team work for success. Both are professional who made indelible in their space, and are reflecting back on their rich experience. I believe spirit of professionalism cuts across many disciplines. It may differ on details but fundamentals remain the same. It is about conviction, self belief, working hard for what you believe in, working as a team and and winning against many odds, in the right spirit

I believe, technologies, processes, methodologies and tools have evolved to a great extent by now and these can help us address the key challenges, if we can put these together in the right way, as people/team enabler. Well, it is important to get it right.

Also, it is important to stay clear of dogmas, and realize that when we direct attention towards moon by pointing in that direction, the pointing finger is not moon. It might sound trivial but it is common to see finger being confused as moon. What do I mean by that?

I have seen process quality standards like CMMI degenerating into a compliance ritual. Insistence (by whom? It is interesting to know) on excessive documentation leads to outdated, and even lack of (gets postponed as it is time consuming), documentation. Later documentation is done purely to satisfy auditing needs. That is, an initiative intended to help you manage collapse on its own weight. The real problem is not with CMMI but in its adoption

I have also seen free and honest communication getting compromised in so-called ‘agile’ environment with regular meetings turn into witch hunting and ‘save my skin’ interactions. That is, the term ‘agile’ gets stripped of its core values and gets used as a matter of convenience rather than any good. Again, what fails is not ‘agile’ but its adoption

Automation initiative, that starts with purchase of a commercial software for software development, get stuck in learning some esoteric aspects of the tool rather than addressing true automation needs. Again, problem is not automation rather how automation is approached and implemented

It is curious to see the patterns of wrong adoption repeating itself. While technologies, processes, methodologies and tools can help us in addressing key challenges, often, it is the related technical details grab attention through advocacy of vociferous loyalists and marketing machinery, rather than applying them right. The fact that these are enablers in the first place is conveniently forgotten

Looking around, it look forward to a phase in software development, a phase that physics had gone through between Galileo Galilei and Isaac Newton … a phase of consolidation, period of drastic and intense changes with far reaching impact. We have seen some of these continuing even into early 20th century through Albert Einstein, Werner Heisenberg , et al…. and as an industry, we continue to deal with more unknown factors than known ones, till the dust settle

I hope to see software development eventually settling down to become a profession, in its true sense… It has changed over years but still it needs to go a long way before it can truly be called a responsible profession.

April 21, 2012 Posted by | Agile, Business, Collaboration, lessons learned, Management, Sociology, software engineering, Software Engineering Career, Software Testing | Leave a comment

Making the right career choice!

An interesting discussion “In India, for the Vocational Skill Development initiatives to succeed in a big way, the perception of the general populace on education needs to be changed.” What are your opinion on this? set me thinking, once again, about career building. It got me thinking because it is very close to my heart, it is very dear to me, helping people become successful in their career

What makes a good career? I think answer to this question is highly subjective. It depends on the individual, his/her skillsets, background (educational, financial, social,…), attitude, ..

In my experience spanning more than two decades of experience by now, I find a great career is about

  • Making the right decision at first
  • Setting a clear goal
  • Periodically reviewing and revising it to stay in tune with market and group dynamics
  • Diligently working towards the goal and
  • (last but not the least) working as a team helping others achieve their goals as well (to me, life is more about collaboration than competition)

Out of this, a whole lot depends on the initial decision. How best can one make the right decision? Quite often, youth of a developing economy like India is bogged down by the need to earn money to be self-sustainable.

A case in point is a classmate of my school days. Though both of us were from more or less similar social and financial background, he opted for a ‘vocational’ learning through ITI while I pursued my studies in the regular stream of studies. His education through ITI got him a job much earlier than me but he ended up in a career which was largely routine…. a great resource lost into the crowd….. and he represent many unknown faces in India.

Could that have been different? We did not, then, have variety of career choices that are open now. In what was available, there was hardly any guidance available for a school boy in a remote village in deep south part of India.

Can it be different now? I think it can. There are plenty of choices, and many means of spreading awareness. But it seems, it is now a question of deluge of information than its dearth. Consequently, my recommendation to India’s youth now is to analyze every opportunity in the prism of what it means to you.

Quadrant III is definitely no choice, except possibly as a starting point or quick-fix solution, rather than starving. Quadrant IV might challenge, and hence be appealing for while. It is good to retain it as a hobby but dangerous as a career choice.  Many are caught in Quadrant I. This helps to lead a comfortable life but leaves you drained out internally. 

Key to successful is to identify variant of a career choice of your interest and specialization that falls in Quandrant II.

August 20, 2011 Posted by | Software Engineering Career | Leave a comment

Domain Knowledge or Technical Skills?

June 4, 2011 Posted by | software engineering, Software Engineering Career | Leave a comment

Key skills for a successful career in Software Engineering

Key Skills for a successful career in Software Engineering

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May 28, 2011 Posted by | software engineering, Software Engineering Career | Leave a comment

Forces in Software Engineering

Forces in Software Engineering

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May 27, 2011 Posted by | software engineering, Software Engineering Career | Leave a comment