Posted on Mar 1st 2013

Many years ago I thought of source code as some sort of art form. I actually had a belief that it could be “perfect”, to a level, and that pursuit of this goal of perfection was somehow important. It was something akin to believing that software developers were artists that used code as a medium for expression of that art. The worst part of that belief was that I was striving for perfection in my eyes, not those of my users. Perfection had to do with how the software was implemented, but not whether or not is ultimately useful. How utterly naive.

Business is like a street fight and to have any hope at beating your opponents you've got to focus on delivering what customers value. And they don’t value how software is written; they value what it does, or more specifically what it does for them. For example, since Genuitec is in the development tools space we focus on helping developers do what they want to do, the way they want to do it, but more easily and effectively. The ability to do that requires listening to customers and then building what they want, since that is the only thing that they will ultimately value.

But that’s not the same, necessarily, as building what they need, or specifically what we think they need. We all must keep in mind that our customers, not us, are the subject matter experts for what we deliver. It is they, not us, that get to determine what is valuable and what is not. And it is they, not us, that decide whether or not to pay for the value they perceive. So, what we must do is get close to what we think our customers want, ship it, listen to their feedback, and deliver relentlessly to close the gap between our product’s current abilities and their reality. Sometimes their reality suddenly changes, as does what they value. When that happens we can’t be so in love with what we've already done that we can’t dump it and start over if needed.

Because the code itself isn't art and never has been. It’s just a temporary vehicle that leads to the perception of value in the minds of our customers, at least for a little while.

Perfectionism is the enemy of creation, as extreme self-solitude is the enemy of well-being.
–John Updike

- Todd Williams
About the Blogger:

Todd is a founding partner of Genuitec, where he continues to play an integral part in company direction as the VP of Technology.