Curse of the Cowboy Coders

Summary:I seem to mixing with a huge number of software engineers this week. I am at a software symposium after all, so it’s no big surprise.

I seem to mixing with a huge number of software engineers this week. I am at a software symposium after all, so it’s no big surprise. But my word, what an opinionated crowd you can run into sometimes. Actually, it’s more than just sometimes isn’t it? There’s very often a sense of the ‘prima donna’ attitude among developers where they feel that one or two individuals in a coding team or project are carrying along eight or nine other ‘cowboy coders’, who are simply there to make up the numbers.

Sounds like the classic 80:20 rule here doesn’t it?

Now this is only an opinion, but this could of course be down to the form and function of the workload types assigned across the project. Not every engineer will be responsible for front-end integration, architectural re-designs, GUIs or even requirements management. Some will be classic data crunchers and this may, just may, appear to be less creative, less maverick and less likely to be perceived as the shining light of the project.

However, we can keep those ‘prima donnas’ in check if we apply the ‘under-a-bus’ rule right? However valuable they think they are, if they went under a bus tomorrow, would the rest of team be able to pick up their work and run? Have they annotated, planned and reported at every level so that the so-called cowboys (or cow-girls) at the back of the room could move into the spotlight?

Does this mirror your working environment? Do you spy a cowboy on the horizon?

Topics: Software Development

About

Adrian Bridgwater a freelance journalist specialising in cross platform software application development as well as all related aspects of software engineering and project management. Adrian is a regular blogger with ZDNet.co.uk covering the application development landscape and the movers, shakers and start-ups that make the indust... Full Bio

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