Mar 022011

Ya Internet

The coding style of keeping it DRY (don’t repeat yourself) is the exact opposite of what business people do (repeat, repeat, repeat until someone hears you). A good developer builds bits to be reusable, leaving repetitive tasks for automated tools like test suites. A good business person will continually send the same person an email until he gets a response, increasing daily frequency if necessary.

This explains why geeks are so bad at dating! Yes, you CAN send her multiple okcupid messages, nerds. It explains why developers have trouble being heard in mixed (dev+biz) meetings, and why devs don’t like meetings to start with. Many meetings are about topics previously discussed but have yet to reach a decision.

Geeks primarily use repetition for non-human or indirect human interactions (games) in which they have some control over the outcome. Perhaps business people are just insane1.

I’ve been rolling and squishing this thought in my brain and I feel it explains a lot of behavioral differences, though I could be completely off-base here. I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

1. “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” – Einstein

 Posted by at 3:56 am

  6 Responses to “A revelation on the fundamental difference between developers & business”

  1. This really resonated with me, but I can’t quite put my finger on one thing.

    Would a good business person keep hammering away at the same thing, or is that the practise of a bad business person, where a better business person may try different approaches at the same goal?

  2. It seems like you’re contrasting persistence and efficiency. Wouldn’t a good business person reuse a well tested routine or system in the same way a developer reuses code?

    Being a successful business person does require more well honed people skills than being a successful developer, though. It makes sense that the former would have more success where those skills were required.

    As for dating, I found my success didn’t come so much from using repetition but rather from my stunning good looks.

    That, and my ability to make girls laugh. 😉

  3. @Andrew I think they do a combination of both repeating the message and trying new paths. I’ve seen my CEO ping a person he had previous success with several times, and will continue to do so until he gets a response AND start exploring alternate routes to get to his goal. From my perspective, he’s doing the same thing (sending emails and calling) but he is wording each message differently, increasing urgency, etc. So you’re right, he’s trying alternate paths so it’s not exactly the same, but it sure looks like it :) It just seems like business people are more successful at getting what they want because they’re more persuasive through persistence. Most developers aren’t the squeaky wheel type.

    @Alfonso Ok, you definitely made me laugh.

    “Wouldn’t a good business person reuse a well tested routine or system in the same way a developer reuses code?” Yes, but they will use the same routine when they’re not successful too. For them, the same routine produces a success x% of the time, so it makes sense to try it a few times before modifying or moving on. This method works so much better on people than on machines. For us, if the code doesn’t work it, we modify it before trying again. No modification produces the same result, failure.

  4. When it comes to measuring the merits of persistence there are, first and foremost, underlying assumptions (accurate or not) as to whether the object being interacted with is a stochastic or a deterministic system. Similarly, there are assumptions about whether the system is stateful. The latter is perhaps the more daunting concern for dating :)

    However, one may also imagine that a large split between the hardware managing and wetware managing personalities occurs on the fault lines of where time is best spent: Whether self-investment aligns primarily with complexity and novelty and diminishes with repetition, or is instead fastened to the security of the well-practiced, believing what has long worked will for a long time still work because the common motivations of our species change glacially if at all.

  5. Here’s a wrinkle. Today I worked on Bug From Hell. It was totally random — the exact same test conditions would execute perfectly five times without an issue, but then fail on the sixth try. Or seventh, or twenty-third. Seriously it was that unpredictable .

    I still havent fixed it, and i suspect it will stick around for a while. I think I’ll give it a nam. I’m leaning toward Woman, 😉

    BTW repeatable routines are a big part of the whole pickup artist phenomenon.

  6. This is art versus science. I’m not a coder, in fact, if you could find the exact opposite of a coder it would be me. I still haven’t been able to hook up my phone to my email, but I have been a student of human interaction for most of my 46 years.
    Wooing women or men is an art. You have to have some mojo, but basically it’s a fluid process.
    There is some veracity to the squeaky wheel theory, “if you ask a hundred people out, someone will bite,”
    but you should never underestimate the power of personality.
    And you don’t get personality with your head bowed texting, or as I call it, “the death position”
    I tell my nieces who are young that is the position they will die in because they are like that 23 out of 24 hours a day.
    You want to help your social interaction skills?
    Try not texting for a week. Instead actually call someone and just talk.
    Fishing for a good time does start with throwing in your line.

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>