John Mann

John Mann

Not everyone should learn to code

I have read several articles, attended conferences, and even saw news articles hinting (or blatantly saying) that everyone should learn how to code.  I completely disagree.   Not everyone should learn to code and I have several reasons.  Let's start with most obvious:

Not everyone will enjoy writing code

I always hear counselors, motivational speakers, and life-coaches state: Do what you love. If that is the case, then not everyone should learn how to code.  I know a few people who despise it, AND are still doing it for their primary job, sounds like pure hell.  If you are curious about coding, then absolutely take a dive into it, codeschool.com, codeacademy.com, etc... there are several places to get started.  You will learn quickly if you enjoy it or not.

The next reason is just as simple:

Not everyone will be a good developer

Now, this reason scares the crap out of me.  Imagine if EVERYONE in the world tried to learn how to code.  They would get so far and feel confident in their skills, and then get a job as a coder (fyi, a coder is NOT the same as a developer or engineer).  They start getting experience with no formal training, or guidance.  They create horrible code bases that are out there and potentially running mission critical systems, aka code defects (bugs) = people die.  They are not maintainable and are just a train wreck to even consider adding functionality to.  The only positive spin on this is that good developers will have a long career of fixing other people's horrible code.  :-)

The next reason is not as obvious.  If we start training all the people to code and think like a developer, we would be causing great damage to the non-tech people... the right brain people out there that are crazy creative, intuitive, and abstract thinkers.  We need those people more today than we ever have.  It is the balance that allows us to create what we do.  Right brain people out there, love who you are, respect your talents, and don't try to stifle it because "science/tech is the only way to make money".  Chase your crazy dreams, you are the ones with the ideas, and we partner VERY well with you, trust me I know, I married one of those creative types.

Finally, there are SEVERAL more careers out there that could be considered part of tech, but if you look at the world today, it is all part of tech.  Drawings are sketched on iPads, Music is made through some form of technology (auto-tune that!), lighting for shows are all electronic, and writing stories/scripts are often done through some tech tool.

I have had a wonderful career in the tech world and was lucky enough to work for some amazing companies.  It all comes down to this for me.  I can't do one thing forever.  I code in multiple languages, different parts of the tech stack, and now I do a lot with people management (I still refuse to call them resources) and career coaching and guidance.  I enjoy every part of the industry I am in.  I am lucky, blessed, etc... but most important, I am grateful.  I am grateful for my coworkers, my managers, and my experiences.  Choose your path wisely... and as the saying goes, Good decisions come from wisdom and wisdom comes from bad decisions.  It is amazing to realize that you aren't meant for what you are currently doing.  Why?  Because you can change IT!

I was talking to one of my employees yesterday and he jokingly mentioned that he should talk to his manager.  I laughed because I literally forgot that I was that guy.  That was my greatest realization this week, people think I am a good manager, because I don't think of myself as a manager at all.  I love feedback and love being able to get better.  I can't wait to see what happens next week in my life.  For those that are interested in more of the tech writing, I will be writing a post about angular.js soon, and some of the do's and don'ts that I have encountered.

Thanks for stopping by!  Let me know if you think everyone should code.

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