“Everybody Codes!”

paul czarnik warcryThat was my battle-cry when I ran all the development labs which ran hundreds of product development projects a year with 1,500 technical folks.  Now, I did have specialists who did not code, but when I was hiring new talent, programming ability was high on my list of requirements.  When it comes to these non-coding functions, I was looking for a basic understanding on how code and data work.

Here’s why.

Programmers are problem-solvers and approach problems in a very unique way.  That is why there is only a small percentage of the population whose brains are wired this way and the solutions we build incorporate both engineering and creative disciplines.  Now that may seem counter-intuitive to the ‘build to the requirements’ approach, but most differentiated solutions that I’ve seen are based on technology exploits that most users are not even aware of, much less design for.  When you have an organization that’s steeped in code, everybody understands each other much better.  It’s easier for technical writers, QA specialists and Project Managers to do their job when they understand the thought-process that their development team is using.  As a technologist and business-leader, my coding background help me to communicate, motivate and reward programming excellence.  We even came up with a term, “Eagles” for the most proficient and prolific developers.  These folks were amazing and a convocation of Eagles could outperform departments of regular programmers.  Plus they were smart, and funny, and a joy to work with.

“I believe in Salespeople and Programmers”.

I’ve said this a million times and I’ll say this until I’m done.  This approach is perfect for the “New Normal“.  If you remember, the New Normal is the reality that technology has become so pervasive that it is becoming a company’s primary way to engage with their customers.  And in order to support this, every company must think of themselves as a technology company first, their main product or service is secondary.


If you want to consider yourself a player in the New Normal, you must truly invest in technology talent.  It’s amazing to me when I run into companies that claim to be technology companies when they do not have hard-core coders on staff.  They either outsource them or they believe in using “off the shelf” solutions.

Well, it used to be amazing, but now it’s just annoying.

As a person who has been fortunate to be surrounded by scary-talented programmers, I am going to start to take a hard-line towards these companies, because it’s just a waste of time and talent to acknowledge companies who produce no true, differentiated value with their technology.  I’m talking to 99% of the startups I run across and many good-size corporations.  They’re technical poseurs and they seem to get all the press these days.  It’s gotten to the point where I’d rather code than blog or attend industry events.  (Maybe I’ll start blogging in code)

I’m going to continue writing about this, because the New-Normal is real and I want to help companies understand the value of programmers, how to hire them, how to retain them, and how to leverage their skills to help your company compete and win!

OK, to sum it up, my favorite phrases:

  1. “Everybody Codes”
  2. “I believe in Salespeople and Programmers”, and…
  3. …oh yes, “Shut Up and Code”


About Paul Czarnik
Paul the former CTO of Compuware, a venture-technologist and programmer. His hands-on experience and technical diligence model help with M&A activities and incubator/startups. Contact him at @PaulCzrnk to chat about IT Transformation (even though he hates that word), agile delivery, lean startup methodologies or music.

Paul serves on the boards of, iRule, the Motown Museum and the Admission/Retention Committee for Wayne State University.