Over the years I have worked with many talented and successful software engineers. One of the common traits that I have repeatedly observed is an innate ability for these gifted technologists to work themselves out of a job. Software applications spring to life because there is a process that can be invented (generate new revenue), enhanced (generate more revenue), streamlined (increase productivity) or all together eliminated (reduce cost). These are the basic influencers that motivate creative and driven individuals.
The vast majority of talented software engineers I have worked with zero in on one or more of these directions. I titled this blog “Eliminate Your Position” because if you successfully execute on any one of the above examples you have created a new opportunity by eliminating the current need. Getting new assignments with ever increasing levels of complexity should be one of your core objectives as a technologist. Money and recognition comes to those who are the most adept at completing a successful project.
Most NFL quarterbacks can effectively drive toward the opponent’s end zone on a consistent basis. The good quarterbacks stall and regularly don’t complete the drive with a score. The great quarterbacks have a much higher scoring ratio because they’re able to consistently finish the drive. Great software engineers drive projects to completion; meaning that their code goes into production, increases revenue or drives down cost, ultimately creating happy clients.
I am a firm supporter of lean/agile development methodologies. In this paradigm, getting to completion is a sprint that ends with a working product. It may take 20 sprints to “complete” the project, but each sprint is a drive for the goal line. Focus on delivering working solutions that ultimately fulfill the identified need. Once you have delivered a production ready working solution, you’ll then be in the shortlist of candidates for the next challenging opportunity. Continue working yourself out of a job and your career options will flourish.