Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Code for yourself before you code for others

I got a strike from the quote "Code for yourself before you code for others" when I attended Google IO Extended 2012 event. Even though I was developing tools for me, I never took that as serious in determining success of a Software engineer. After 2 years of experiments related the quote, I could see that this is something important for a software professional. Now I am utilizing this quote for hunting talent for my current company.

Usually in software services companies (I would like to call as code factories), the ultimate aim is to deliver the project with working features. If the delivery mode is "code delivery" there are chances that there will be an acceptable level of quality. But in the other way "features delivery", we can never expect quality in the code. The features will be working. That's all. In such companies the hiring pattern is as follows. I know the point here is about code for ourselves, but through this I can show the importance of, one coding for himself.

Hire worker people to increase head count

This happens in big companies in below situations
  • Show their strength for marketing and to get more projects
  • Show that they are stable, still growing and not affected by recession etc.
This also happens during the period a small company tries to become a medium company or when medium company is becoming large.

Type of People

In this type of recruitment companies normally goes to campus to recruit people from even non computer science branches such as Civil, Agriculture,Accounting etc...who sometimes doesn't know how to shut down the computer.
 
But the main focus in this hiring will be common sense of the candidates, so that they can be moulded as workers who at least don't harm the software systems.
 
If we think from the candidate perspective, these people will not be having particular aim in their life except to get equal status of others and earn money. When they complete their schools, they just listen to others(relatives & friends) words and select Electronics or Mechanical engineering, instead of hearing their own mind. Their mind may be telling them to become an accountant. But as the factor of common sense and adaptability is more, they will get more marks in the exams even though they don't know anything practically about their main stream subject. Believe or not I had multiple situations where people who scored more than 80% marks in Electrical engineering department don't know, why they are not getting electric shock, when they use tester to touch wires. These people again take others words and attend the interview conducted by software development companies.
 
Also these people won't read much about theory part computer science. If they know RegEx & parsing, I would say its really great. One of the benefit for them is they can switch to any other job at any time as they don't have the bonding with computer science. This is really helpful during recession days.
 
As these type of people don't have any particular aim except money, these people can be moulded to work on anything, provided they get right instructions.

Hire own people (Relatives & Friends)

This happens in most of the companies. The manager / higher level executives inject their own people into the company with their influence in 95% cases and rest through proper channel. They do it due to various reasons
  • His friend is really good in particular technology and the company needs the talent
  • He wants a strong team who can take his orders without fail or complaints.
  • His relative / friend is not getting job in other companies after he was fired from previous job or passed out of college.
  • He needs a spy in the team so that he can know the heart beat of the team.
  • He want to take his person to abroad. Let this be the way.

Type of people

95% of the people who are hired in this way will not be meeting the hiring criteria and will be a burden to their colleagues which in turn reduce the team's productivity and demotivate the loyal people. If these candidates are really skilled they should have joined in other companies. That itself shows these people are not worth.
 
The real trouble will be to the middle level leads to whom these hired people are reporting. He cannot keep the person in the team as he is not capable of doing the tasks, but afraid to escalate as he is backed by the manager. This in turn increase pressure to the rest of the team in meeting the deliveries. The pressure eventually makes the loyal and talented people, leaving the project or company.

Hire the talent to think & innovate

Worker people alone cannot run the company. There needs some smart people to think and take decisions and finding those people is really a tough job for interviewers. Within the 30-45 minutes how to identify whether the candidate is really talented or not? The future of the company relies in the hands of these people as these people are going to think and take decisions for the company.
 
I faced the challenge so many times. Earlier I used to give various scenarios and ask them to think about alternatives. If you are an interviewer, you don't need to worry about these type of questions. Just take one of the scenario in your project and explain them in a different way. If they think smart and provide better solution than what you implemented, you can even refine your solution :) .But don't get into trouble.
 
Now I have added one more criteria to the list and its nothing but "The solutions they developed for themselves". If they have solved their own problems successfully, 50% we can say he suits to the talent criteria.

Type of people

Here comes the passion. These people will be passionate about software engineering. They will not be just programmers of particular language. They try to understand what the user needs and think about various solutions and picks up the best one. They will be continuous learners and brave enough to remove or add new tools & technologies into the project. The toughest part is they don't compromise quality to meet delivery timeline.
 
In short if a company have at least one person like this, it can have 50 worker people.

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