Yesterday a colleague and I were interviewing a management candidate and one of my questions spawned an answer where she mentioned “utilizing resources to 100%.” Wow, that sounds impressive. Wait! What? I had to ask her, “By resources, you don’t mean people, do you?” Of course she replied “Yes.” I had to tell her I absolutely detest being called a resource. Programmers are people.
“Say manager Bob.”
“Yes project leader John.”
“I am reviewing the product delivery schedule and we simply need more resources to complete on time.”
“Oh really, do you mean more desks, chairs, and Gannt charts?”
“No. Resources. You know, whatever makes apps.”
People Make Apps
It really is dehumanizing, isn’t it? Being referred to as a resource. When did that happen in business? I admit I’m new to the enterprise world, but I’ve heard this phrase enough times, uttered by reasonable and friendly people, and now I’m getting curious and a little bit sad about it.
Who flipped the bit in leader’s brains telling them it’s perfectly fantastic and normal to call developers resources? Was it that Tom Peters guy? Does this happen in every industry and I simply lack perspective? Am I too much of a “Rockstar Developer” and just need to get over it?
People create and deliver software. Building functional, reliable, and simple programs is the second hardest things human beings do. It’s already a crazy business to be in, convincing machines all day long that our programs are good. Please make it a little bit better and don’t refer to us as “resources.”
Call to Action and Alternatives
If, where you work, you’re someone sufficiently in charge to lead by example, or simply confident (or indispensable) enough to mentor someone referring to “resources”, please consider these alternatives when you write/say/think “We need more …”
- Developers – aptly describes what we do across a wide operational function (I ought to ask my QA and designer teammates if that’s cool with them)
- Staff – sounds a little wooden, but I suppose it’s harmless and general enough
- Talent – probably a little off-putting to those in doubt of their skills, but sounds complementary
- People – simply gets to the heart of the matter, doesn’t it
My interviewee was at least contemplative and nice about by minor editorial. She said she respected my position and would remember it. Ha! Hopefully she’s remembering in a positive way.
Enjoy a coffee and consider this topic for a while. If it resonates within you then please take action the next time you have a chance. Reach out to me if you’ve had a similar encounter. People, let’s go build something awesome today!