Just what exactly is it that distinguishes a good developer from an average developer? Certification in a particular language or technology demonstrates the ability to be “average”, but certainly doesn’t demonstrate good. I believe a good developer is someone who has an aptitude for developing, which is inherently extremely difficult to measure or quantify. However, there are possibly a few things that can help you identify your good developers:
- They are capable of using several languages to get things done
- They are pragmatic in their approach
- They understand the concepts as well as the solutions
- They can think at multiple levels of abstraction
- They can get things moving despite uncertainty
- They champion quality and continuous improvement
- They like to share their knowledge and expertise
Of course, these are very subjective measures and very hard to qualify or quantify. It can be very hard to demonstrate an ability to use several languages if the working environment dictates a single language. Red tape may prevent pragmatism. If the environment prevents these qualities being expressed then it is very likely the most important qualities of the best developers are being suppressed.
If you wish to get the best from your best developers, and achieve that 10 times productivity that is often quoted, you should look to make sure that you have provided them with an environment that allows them to demonstrate (through action) the above characteristics. If there is anyone you can think of right now with some or most of these characteristics, why not take the opportunity to ask them how you can help to allow them to improve.