Digital Directions: The IT Crowd
Here are some of the ways that technical developers can thrive in a publishing organizations—or any other for that matter:
● Leadership/Mentorship: Good de-velopers need to report to another technology professional. Managers with a technology background will understand their needs and be more effective advocates for them. Also, technical folks look for managers from whom they can learn, and who can mentor. Bottom line: You can't hire a good developer and just plop them down in the middle of an editorial or marketing team. They won't be happy.
● Creative output: Developers are creative. While their creative expressions may be somewhat more abstract, software developers are as creative as writers and designers. And, like writers and designers, they need to have a certain level of creative output—opportunities to create new stuff, to add to their portfolio, to thrive. When good developers spend all their time on maintenance and bug fixes, they start to look for other jobs.
● Strategic input: Good technologists should have a place at the table in coming up with strategy—whether it pertains to product offerings or digital workflow. All too often, developers are relegated to just building whatever other folks decide to do. This is a loss for the organization since developers can often be incredibly valuable strategic collaborators, seeing things from a different perspective. Also, it is critical for developers to be at the table to efficiently work through trade-offs regarding time, budget, and value.
● Learning Path: Good developers are always hungry to learn new things. New tech, new approaches, new challenges. They know that they become more valuable when they broaden their skill portfolio. And it keeps life interesting. While proficiency comes with focus, good developers want to learn new things on a regular basis. This may be somewhat unique in a publishing organization as many others (editors, designers) like to stick with a standard set of tools and approaches for the long-term. This desire to learn new things is also why mentorship is so important (see above).