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0800-DEVOPS #53 – Measuring developer productivity with Bryan Finster

27. 09. 2023

Welcome to 0800-DEVOPS, a newsletter digest of interesting ideas from the world of DevOps, technical practices and increased productivity! I talked with Bryan about measuring developer productivity.

A newsletter that started as a personal learning and getting-in-touch project by Ivan Krnic grew into a sociotechnical newsletter covering topics of technical excellence, organizational improvements, and productivity.

Developer productivity

Charity Majors once said:

✨ “Great engineers don’t make great teams. Great teams make great engineers.”

In the age of complexity, teams are what build software. Teams deliver!

That’s why a recent shortsighted McKinsey report suggesting measuring and comparing individual developer productivity on questionable criteria fell hard on many software development leaders. Turning software development from a team sport back to an individual game brings heroes and rockstar developers back onstage. Incentives based on individual achievements create “every man for himself” dynamics – collecting points is more important than delivering value to end users.

Gene Kim often quotes Brian Eno, who coined the word “scenius” – the intelligence of a whole operation or group of people, as opposed to a traditional individual “genius.” Scenius > Genius anytime.

There is a reason why software engineering leaders are stepping up and warning about the approach laid out in the report. It goes against many things we’ve painfully learned as an industry in the last 20-30 years.

The McKinsey report is dragging software development back to Taylorism, and we shouldn’t let that happen. I talked about it with Bryan Finster.

Interview of the Month

Developer productivity with Bryan Finster

Developer productivity with Bryan Finster

Bryan Finster is a Distinguished Engineer at Defense Unicorns and a relentless searcher for better ways of working – not by following prescribed frameworks but by gaining situational awareness and recognizing specific contextual improvements. We discussed a topic that stirred an otherwise dull summer – McKinsey’s report on measuring developer productivity.

Hand picked

My Response To The NONSENSE McKinsey Article On Developer ProductivityDave Farley shares his thoughts on the implications of measuring individual developer productivity and what such metrics will lead to.

Measuring developer productivity – Since McKinsey report compares software development with sales and HR, Steve Fenton points out that “while other functions can be measured reasonably well, some even with just a single metric, in software development, the link between inputs and outputs is considerably less clear.”

5 Minute DevOps: McKinsey Gets Developer Productivity Wrong – Further thoughts on measuring developer productivity by Bryan Finster.

Measuring goalposts – when measuring, people like to jump straight into reading the numbers but often forget why, what, and how they are measuring. William Bartlett takes us back to basics.

Read with us

Read with us

Accelerate: The Science of Lean Software and DevOps: Building and Scaling High Performing Technology Organizations

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Given the topic, it is only appropriate to go back and reread the Accelerate and the science behind achieving organizational productivity.

Header photo by K8 on Unsplash

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