Infoworld: 6 home truths about rock star developers

You want the best and the brightest money can buy. Or do you? In fact, you're better served by a group of developers with mixed skill levels who focus on getting the job done

A big, important project has launched -- and abruptly crashed to the ground. The horrible spaghetti code is beyond debugging. There are no unit tests, and every change requires a meeting with, like, 40 people.

On the other hand, maybe not. A team of senior developers will often produce a complex design and no code, thanks to the reasons listed below.

Truth no. 1: You can't afford all senior developers
Many managers have an unrealistic understanding of the labor market for software developers. Just get 10 extremely senior developers to work on an application, and presto, success! These same managers also generally believe they can hire senior developers for less than the market demands; for example, $100,000 isn't enough for your senior-most position in most areas of the country. Best case, you'll get one or two senior developers and eight or nine liars.

Truth no. 2: People do their best work when their head is barely above water
When you have a senior developer typewriting JSP pages (read: ASP, PHP, whatever), that person won't actually perform as good a job as a more junior-level developer who hasn't slogged through it 100 times before. A senior developer, even one with good intentions, will phone it in after the first few weeks because he or she is inescapably bored. A junior developer assigned to the same job will work a lot harder...

Read the rest of my article at Infoworld.

BTW I'll be speaking at CouchConf in San Francisco on September 21. Say hi if you're around. You can follow me on twitter @acoliver.


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