Can You Replace an Irreplaceable Developer?

Topic: Martha's Diary

Author's Photo
A developer and client navigating challenges together

When I talk to my customers, I often feel that their perception of their startup and software development is affected by invisible rules of Big Tech leaders.

Everyone feels like a big headliner.

Everyone expects huge success.

Everyone believes in his or her personal wisdom and knowledge.

Everyone thinks technology and AI are important.

Nobody understands the importance of engineers who actually drive the ship.

I have been a software architect for many years, but I don’t know what it means - to believe in technology. I don’t believe in technology. Technology is just a tool. Like a hammer or screwdriver. Maybe better than a screwdriver, but anyways.

I believe in people. People can reach for the sky. People can ruin their own house.

Everything is about people.

There is nothing more interesting than people. There is nothing more boring than people.

People can be sharp as a razor. People can be dull as an oaken log.

If you are a project owner and aim for success in business, your success will come from people.

One of those people is you. You have to be really agile if you want to obtain success with a startup.

Other people are the software developers that are supposed to drive your project towards faraway places.

You depend on those people.

Yes, they all are not the same. Some of them are talented, dedicated, and hardworking. Some of them are talentless, lazy, and fishy.

Can you tell who is who?

Illustration of a pensive female developer flanked by a smirking imposter and a money-focused counterpart, embodying her musings on authenticity in tech

Can you easily replace any developer in your project?

What about those you cannot really replace?

I am not talking about a developer who has rewritten part of the project in a rare and unknown technology and wants a raise - otherwise threatens to leave.

I am talking about a developer who has been working for several years on your project. Who has been constantly dedicating all of his time and strength to it. Who knows all parts of the code. Who has left part of his soul in it.

That kind of developer. Can you replace one?

If so, by whom? By a dark horse? By someone new who claims to be great but hasn’t proved it yet?

Maybe three or five dark horses would make a suitable replacement?

Would you like to make a bet?

Think twice.

Maybe replacing them is not a good idea.

But keep your chin up! Perhaps, your development team also thinks about replacing their project owner sometimes.

Perhaps, they think about moving to another project where the grass is greener, the requirements are clearer, and there is more time for code refactoring.

Perhaps, they cannot easily do that either.

Especially if you are good at providing meaningful requirements useful for the business, give them freedom to implement their solutions, and don’t torment them with inhuman Scrum ceremonies too often.

Then you can find one another.

And even become brothers in arms.

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