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From Good to Great

I'm a developer on a fairly large team and I'm looking for ideas on how to increase my contributions and make myself more valuable.  I'm a few years out of college and up until now my focus has been delivering the best designs and code I'm capable of, keeping up with new technology, and trying to strengthen my development skills.  This has worked well, but as you all know there's a lot more to a successful career than delivering solid code.

The barrier I'm running into is that I'm introverted, and there's no magic switch that will change that, so I throw this up as a general question to others in a similar situation:  What strategies have you found useful in contributing to the team beyond the fundamentals and increasing your visibility to management?

(For example, one thing that has worked for me in the past is improving teams' development processes: getting daily builds going, automated pre-checkin tests, leak detection, etc.  However, this team already has these down pretty well and is too large and established for me to make much of an impact here.)

Quiet Developer
Monday, March 10, 2003

I've established my reputation from consistently being able to take over projects that are a mess, fix all outstanding bugs, refactor the design in a sensible timescale, and show people that as a result of me taking the project on board the overall quality and customer satisfaction has improved.

Reading good books on software development helps too, as it seems that most developers just don't do this. The book reviews here are a good as place any to start.

Better than being unemployed...
Monday, March 10, 2003

Be "responsive."

My friend's dad is the owner of a large marble and tile store in New York City. He deals with high-end clients a lot.

One time he had a potential customer that was staying in a hotel in Manhattan for a few days. My friend's dad got in touch with the guy and asked whether he could view marble samples at the store. The guy said he was only in town for a short bit and didn't have the time to make it to the store.

My friend's dad asked when the guy is flying out. "Tomorrow, early afternoon" he said. "How about I bring samples to your hotel say, at 6:00am tomorrow" said my friend's dad.

(These samples of marble are huge slabs of rock that need to be transported by truck.)

Sure enough, my friend's dad got the samples to the guy's hotel exactly at 6:00am the next day. Needless to say he secured a deal.

My friend's dad was once a psychologist.  His store's motto includes the word, "responsive."

TB Sheets
Monday, March 10, 2003

Your headline catched my immediate attention, because "Good to Great" is also the title of a book which I can highly recommend.
Its author Jim Collins describes his findings (not: opinion) why some companies are significantly 'better' than others.

Won't solve your current problem [or will it?], but still worth a read.

- Roland
Monday, March 10, 2003

Following up on Roland's suggestion... Jim Collins has a very informative website about "Good to Great" at:

Guy Bjerke
Monday, March 10, 2003

Search Amazon for 'Introvert'. There are some good books available.

Introverts (I'm OK, your'e OK in small doses) are actually much closer to normal on the bell curve than most people think. Extroverts (W'ere OK) by their nature tend to skew things.

Hypersocials (Extroverts) are responsible for 90% of flow interruptions (the flow concept is beyond their genetic ability  to grasp) and account for the single largest drag on developer productivity. That's why Peopleware recommends offices. No developer likes 'codus interruptus'.

Programmers are perfectly capable of communicating socially without stepping on each other. Hypersocials feel guilty and uncomfortable and unproductive if they are not talking face to face with someone. They hate to be alone with their mind. Most frustrating is that they don't belive that other people are not like them.

Intoverts can be very successful at managing though effort must be made to communicate effectively. The best way is to communicate frequently but let your work rather than your mouth do the real talking. Hypersocials can't compete with that. 

fool for python
Monday, March 10, 2003

My advice is somethign that i'm working on myself, and one a lot of people don't consider: 

Learn to bust out quality code extremely quickly.  You'll get to a point in your career where (assuming your quite intelligtent) almost everyone at your level can produce good code, and almost everyone can come up with a good design given the right timeframe.  The difference between the great programmers who I see making six figures and the ones like me making 50-70k, is that they can come up with good design and quality code extremely quickly.  They don't have to wait a couple days for a brilliant idea, they just start designing (or coding) and quality work just appears.

Vincent Marquez
Monday, March 10, 2003

With all due respect, you must be working in a pretty good shop if everyone around you can spit out great code and great designs: I've worked with quite a few teams that couldn't put out either given an infinite timeline. I literally am not kidding, and from my perspective the going rate in the industry is gross imcompetence, and with the mad rush to join this programming gig that occurred in the late 90s, there is a bounty of people with neither the aptitude or mindset for software development.

It's a myth that there are great programmers by the truckloads: There are actually incredibly few.

Jimmy Chonga
Monday, March 10, 2003

Yeah...well, its just my luck that the team of programmers i work with are all top notch architect/programmers with genius IQs.  We have other programmers who I would say are merely "competent", but I find that working with exceptional developers pushes me to be at my best. 

Vincent Marquez
Monday, March 10, 2003

and yes, I agree with you 100% that most in the industry are pretty clueless.  To fill the positions that I was refering to, we had to sift through thousands of resumes on to p of dealing with the numerous, agonizing interviews. 

Vincent Marquez
Monday, March 10, 2003

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