STOP TECHNOLOGY STEREOTYPING: Developers ain’t cyborgs buddy, they are artistes!

Man, sometimes the smallest bit of ear wigging – sorry – I meant unintended observation – can give you the greatest of light bulb moments.

So I’m sitting here drinking a protein shake.

Chocolate chip cream infusion.

Sounds more like a frappuccino right?

It is a frappuccino.

So I’m drinking this high calorie,sugar fulled, high fat, artery clogging milkshake that will spike my sugar levels & make me feel like god for 3 minutes & then turn me into a lifeless corpse.

I have no issues with my choice in fattening,disgusting beverages which will contribute to the death toll of human’s through some cardio vascular related disease.

Completely comfortable here, no insecurities.


The heads of sales walks into the room. He’s talking to one of our UI/UX guys (a designer), he says…

“Yeah, Pete following what we spoke about. What I’m after is something really punchy, something clean looking that delivers the message of being hip but professional you know?”

blah, blah, blah – but the next line killed it for me.

“Yeah, yeah sounds good Pete. I mean you’re the designer so how you make it sing, that’s your thing so yeah… go for it!”

Let’s just be clear on what happened here.

So, a customer walked over to the designer & told ’em what they wanted, what their goal were WITHOUT prescribing ANY kind of solution.

INFACT – the customer made the point of the designer bringing their creative juices to the table with the “that’s your thing… go for it!”.

How comes we don’t see the SAME customer, approaching developers with the same mindset?

That guy in sales will approach a developer with a request & the conversation will go something like this:

“You see Tim, what I need is a little pop up box here & when it pops up right I want there to be two little buttons on the box which allow you to either say yeah I’ve done that activity or actually I want to dismiss that activity”.

So sticking with the format we had above (when the customer approaches the designer, let’s apply it to how the customer approached the developer).

The customer walked over to the developer & told ’em what they wanted, how they wanted it & prescribed a solution.

Are developers seen as cyborgs who need to be told WHAT & HOW?

Do they have no creativity?


How come the designer is told the goal & is given a reign on how to deliver that goal WITH NO SOLUTION – BUT the developer is NOT told the goal, is NOT given a free reign  on how to deliver the goal & IS PRESCRIBED THE SOLUTION.

Stereotypes of developers being cyborgs


Just because developers write ‘code’ that you don’t understand or do ‘techy’ things which you in the business might not care for – that does not mean that they are not creatives.

Developers ARE creatives.

Creative people are NOT just those who have a fancy set of colouring pens that can draw cool funky pictures and logos.

I’m not trying to patronise, I’m just saying we need to think of creativity in a much broader sense.

And no, I ain’t looking to open up the can of worms that is defining what creativity is.

For me, when there are a 1000 ways of getting to a goal, then that suggests that it takes creativity in the number of things which we can consider to deliver that goal in an awesome way.

If those 1000 ways have been practised & apply by experts in a particular field, is it not a good idea to support their creativity to get me the best solution?

I mean really?

If I was a CEO who’s life blood was built upon technology – technology which is used by a group of guys day in day out – technology which a group of guys have studied, applied and continue to study & apply this technology in 1000’s of different ways to do awesome things – would it not be a good idea to simply tell these technologists what I want as a business goal & LET THEM use their creativity with the technologies that they are experts in to DELIVER my business goal?

What would give me a better product?

A product which is developed by a team who have been empowered & encouraged to utilise their creativity in their chose field (technology) to present to me a variety of options on how they can deliver me a great product?


A product which is developed by a team who have had no encouragement to utilise their creativity, are fed solutions by people who are not experts in their chosen field (i.e the business telling technology how to create stuff) – and therefore having limited options in how a great product can be delivered.

I think we know what we’d pick.

We need to realise that developers are creative technologists.

They are experts in their chosen area of technology, they understand the technology, they know how to utilise their choice of technology in many, many different ways to achieve different desirable outcomes.

It is in your interest to treat your developers like you would your designer.

Challenge your technology stereotypes.

Even if it means kitting out development with  soft, round, flat-crowned,hand-knitted berets speaking in a french accent wearing cashmere roll necks who wear bright coloured socks.

Did someone say stereotypes?



Ahh the sweet smell of creativity!


5 thoughts on “STOP TECHNOLOGY STEREOTYPING: Developers ain’t cyborgs buddy, they are artistes!

  1. Hi, I enjoyed your aricle. Developers (most of them) are indeed creative technologists, but most of them lack basic design skills. Since GUI is the only thing users can see, they automatically assume that the person created an ugly interface can not be creative. It takes a lot of creativity to turn abstract requirements into working software and it is our responsibility to make this transparent to customers.

  2. Wouldn’t it be nice if Engineering was included in all of the analysis and discovery work, alongside the customer, so they could here the problem before anyone tries to propose a solution………….if only there were a methodology that insisted on that!

  3. I really enjoyed your article. I think the Developers must understand the “WHY” behind the WHAT & HOW.

    Unless the Product Owner shares the vision with the Dev team, how can the developers bring their unique perspective to the table.

    Big picture thinking Business stakeholders often do not realize how much “small picture” matters. Its not the big actions but small compounded actions
    taken by “Developers” that can make a big difference.

  4. Nice article, but I am agreeing 100% with threelionheads (what a nick!)
    Programmers/developers are creative but they usually have little or no knowledge of UI/UX. The software world is is full of software with great capabilities but with awful user experiences. Historically functionality has been the primary (or only) focus, not the user interface, but I think the mentality is slowly shifting. You cannot get away with a bad interface these days, especially with new devices like smartphones and tablets.

  5. Big-picture Vs Small-picture and Stereotyping

    The big-picture-small-picture discussion should NOT about exclusivity. Both are necessary at all stages of inception, elaboration to construction. They (the big and the small) need to be mutually compatible to serve the purpose (which arises first) for which they are thought of.

    For anything new to be developed an overall concept (it need not be a visual picture always) of it tends to be coarse but well oriented to serve the purpose it is expected to serve (even this is coarse).

    For a long time I thought that the big picture has low precision and its parts have high precision. But I realized it is incorrect. The precision or proportion of dimensions (more generally the attributes) within the big and within the small must be close (if not the same). The ratio of dimensions of the overall system and the ratio of dimensions of any smaller part of it must be close (the actual dimensions may be large or small). So both need to be specified and developed iteratively and incrementally.

    For anything new to be developed creativity is necessary in all phases of development. How the creativity manifests is different in different phases. I used to think “design” is creative and “production” is routine but I realized that “the way of production or manufacture” also needs to be creative to ensure efficiency, economy, safety etc.
    So, I agree, stereotyping is NOT appropriate in all circumstances but it is apt in some.
    11 JAN 14

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