Statically Typed

because Hindley-Milner rocks

Up or Out? You’re both missing the point!


I read a TechCrunch article the other day and then a response at Scripting News.  They’re about as opposite as you can get in both argument, content but not conclusion.  At least the TechCrunch guys give a hat tip to older founders.  However, I think they’re both somewhat missing the point.

That point, which neither clearly states but is slightly eluded to in the TechCrunch article, is so very easily summed up by paraphrasing a small section of Steve McConnel‘s Code Complete (or was that Rapid Development):

Studies have shown that after the first 2 years of professional software development there is little correlation between experience and ability.

That’s right!  5 years, 10 years, 100 even, it doesn’t matter.  Talent is internal and not easily measured using a metric like years of work.  Experience indicates the time someone has had to fine-tune talent but that’s it. It’s like using lines of code to evaluate an application.  You wouldn’t, I wouldn’t, so don’t try to compare the two.

Most people don’t want to admit this but ask yourself if you haven’t met someone older/younger that just has “it.”  No?  Ever seen that one guy who seems to be good at any sport he picks up?  What about your buddy that incredibly tears threw video games on hard mode while you struggle with the opening stage in normal mode?  What about that friend that for whatever reason can walk up to a pretty girl and have her laughing in stiches the rest of the night?  Yeah, he’s butt-ugly and broke but that gift of the gab seems to pay off night after night.

The reason that some people perform at a higher level in certain aspects of their life is that they devote enormous resources to that aspect.  Maybe they’ve had great mentoring.  Maybe they’re really smart (programming is so cerebral.)  There’s also that mysterious “gifted” quality like the truly great have (Tiger Woods, Frank Sinatra, Superman.)  Whatever the case, however they got there, some people will do some things better than 90% of the people that try.

Now back to the subject at hand, “Up or Out.”  If the only thing correlated with experience is salary and not ability then companies have an incentive to hire younger developers.  They need to find people that can hit that high note but they need to do so in a cost-effective manner.  Once they find them they can pay them for their talent and not their experience, a crucial distinction.  This creates the best return on investment or utilization of money.  Since top talent is rarely, if ever, on the market the best way to find “it” is through identifying internally those with “it.”  And the only way to make sure that you can continue to find “it” is to make room for “it” to join your organization.  And the only way to make room is to either grow your company or push out the least cost effective members.

That, in a nutshell, is why “Up or Out” exists.  It’s pure capitalism.

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This entry was posted on August 29, 2010 by in Software Development.
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