Not a great hacker

There are so many superstar programmers in the blogging world, speaking in geek tongues, blowing off about the latest RSS aggregator they’ve written in their lunch breaks, and making 48-hour marathon coding sessions sound like a good thing, that it’s refreshing to find two articles in the same day that emphasize some of the other qualities that a professional developer needs:

Eric Sink: Great Hacker != Great Hire

[…] When great hackers are as fussy as Graham says they are, they’re not worth the trouble. We want the super-productivity, and we want the innate love of software development, but we don’t want all the extra baggage. Instead:

  • Hire people who care about users.
  • Hire people who understand the difference between a job and a hobby.
  • Hire people who want to contribute in lots of different ways to the success of the product.

It’s okay to be in awe of these great hackers. But as a practical matter, small ISVs would be much better off hiring professionals.

Paul Tyma: Kick-ass Software Developer looking for work

So – the question wraps around to “Is a kick-ass programmer the best kind of programmer to hire to make the company the most money”. The answer seems obviously yes, but it may not be. In a specific instance we learned (as do all consulting firms) that sending 3 rockstar programmers to a client ends up with the “too many cooks in the kitchen” syndrome.