Monday, June 09, 2008

I'm a Nerd God says I'm a Nerd God.  What are you?  Click here!
I am a Nerd God.

Well that's what the test says anyway. My boss is not a Nerd God. He was a nerd and maybe still is, but not a Nerd God. I have dreams entirely made up of code. Note, I was not coding in the dream. Rather all of existence was code. I suspect that I have a little more than healthy obsession with code. I learn new programming languages for fun. I practiced coding before Dave Thomas started Code-Kata. When I am stressed out from a day of coding at work I come home and the first thing I do after saying hello to my lovely wife and daughters is to start thinking about the projects I am working on at home, it helps me relax.

My boss has not done any type of coding for years on the other hand. My boss is well spoken and articulate. He has a good mind for dates (I do not!). He is good at reading people, knowing if they are upset. He is excellent at explaining the problem in a way that all can understand and that does not upset anymore unduly. I am good at inciting a riot with a single statement. OK, not quite that bad, it usually take two or three.

So no, my boss could not do my job, but then I could not do his either. Don't misunderstand me, he could figure it out given time, but the results would not be up to snuff. He has written code in the past. Good code as far as I know. With some practice I am sure he could write good code again, but probably never great code. Not to say that all the code I write is great, but I do write great code from time to time.

I have been a project manager. I received an award for my skills running a project. Kept people on track, got things done and generally hated every minute of it. I am pretty sure the people who worked for me did not find it a picnic either. I would never be a great project manager. My boss is a great project manager. I'm not just saying that in case he reads this blog. I doubt anyone reads this blog :-). He does some pretty amazing things with moving people on our team around. He know just when to pull someone off team A and put them on team B to get both projects done on time. That's what I mean when I say he has a head for dates. We have done some amazing work these last two years that I have worked for him. You would never hear him say it, but a good chunk of what we have accomplished is a direct result of his management. Still he could not do my job.

There is an implied elitism in the idea that my manager should be able to do my job. Its like saying "If you are smart enough to be a programmer then obviously you can manage a project". Does anyone expect the general contractor to be able to do plumbing, electrical and carpentry work? What about sheet rock, masonry, and landscaping? Obviously no one can be good at all of that (and there is more to do). That's why we have different people on the team. Different skills make the team stronger.

Does my boss understand my job, yes certainly. Is he capable of it, no decidedly not. That is part of why he is now a manager. If he was a skilled and adept programmer he would never have been allowed to go into full time management. At least he would not have been allowed to do that at the company where I currently work. My present company values technical people enough that it is never necessary to "make the switch" to management just to get paid more.

What does this have to do with Agile Methodologies though? You'll have to keep reading to find out.

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