Why not promote some Programmers as much as Managers like Steve Jobs did ?
Meritocracy is a sound principle and this article is not about preaching equality at all. Because everybody knows or should know about the Peter Principle:
“employees tend to rise to their level of incompetence.”
Is is the fault of the employees ? No it’s the fault of the System (organization) which promotes “Management Illness”: many operationals / doers who love their current job seem to admit they have to give it up for Management – read for example the case of Tim Delaney and David Abbott – to have better salary and/or recognition. In fact it may be more about recognition than even money (watch Daniel Pink’s TED conference below on the surprising science of motivation) but as salary is a standard measure of recognition in our common society people who even looks for only that will ask for a better paid job.
Steve Jobs never mentioned Peter Principle as far as I know but he did realize that Management shoudn’t be an end. Everybody knows that Apple is the only big company where Designers are directly under the CEO responsability. Less knows that every year Steve Jobs did invite 100 persons at a secret conference and some Programmers were selected to be present whereas even their Managers weren’t.
Because of this obsession on becoming a Manager, many politics in an organization occur because of people trying to escalate the Corporate ladder instead of concentrating and contributing positively on the projects they’re working on – notwithstanding manipulators, often favored in that kind of system, who are counter-productive parasits on a project. Lean Management has been invented to eliminate waste, so why not get rid off that obvious source of waste ?
Of course not all programmers are the same. According to Facebook CEO and also Steve Jobs one programmer could be 100 times better than the average one. Only really best programmers should be promoted or recognized as such. This will create better motivation for others – instead of widespread frustrations of being just interchangeable commodities – to try to invest themselves at improving their skills knowing it can be rewarding.
People talks about “secret sauce” of Steve Jobs trying to emulate him. Problem is that there is no real secret but just common sense organization doesn’t want to apply because the organization rules are made by the same who have vested interest not to change it. Only investors could – and maybe one day they will realize they have the power to change things on that plan (everybody can be an investor by just buying a few stocks). At least on smaller scale organizations, some did apply it like Tracy Dolgin.