Code wins argument

I was watching the above video and it triggered some thinking:

Back in 2019 Atlassian coined the term “Brilliant Jerks”, and as always rest of the industry overbought it :), very similarly when google did their publication of “5 Keys of Successful Google Team“, the only thing that people remembered from that is “Psychological Safety”, the very next item on it is “Dependability: Can we count on each other to do high-quality work on time?” but “Dependability,Quality” is not talked about as often as “Psychological Safety“. Again very similar to how people cheering / blindly copying the Spotify Model, it never actually worked for them as the rest of the world thinks:

In this era of Political Correctness and Instagram Celebs, Optics seems to matter most and it can get tricky for “Code wins argument” , if you were the boss of Linus Torvalds, you would have hard time keeping him in the job. If you don’t believe me, here is some of the sample: 

Diplomatic Programmer


Linus Torvalds on his insults

Imagine defending him in an HR meeting 😀

Ok, don’t get me wrong, in no way I am approving this behavior and suggesting we should all follow his footsteps (there is only one Linus), but my point is, it can be easy to swing on another side of extremes, where strongly opinionated people get voted as “Brilliant Jerks” and more mediocre play it nice people win the argument gets promoted.

I think as managers/leaders, it is most critical now than ever in the industry to protect/grow our so called “brilliant jerks” (u dont need to be brilliant to be a jerk) and train them to win the code argument, otherwise, we will end up in a mediocre group who just pat each other on the back and play nice. Many a time I have seen a good engineer with a good argument not being able to sell the idea or being sidelined just because he/she bought too much into the “Code wins Argument”. Code / Idea don’t just sell itself and it is up to us engineers to play salesman and defender of the “Code wins Argument”. And us managers should promote that environment where people can start an argument and still feel psychologically safe without being concerned about making someone else psychologically unsafe. At the end, its just code! Like they say in the linux community, talk is cheap, show me the code! Now more than ever, its important for the technical people to rise up and get into decision making process and decision makers to get educated and understand technology and understand the merit / difference of good vs bad argument and not just rely on optics.

I feel psychologically unsafe when there is no debate in the room and everyone playing nice 🙂 , for me most rewarding experience is having a strong argument and being overruled by another stronger argument or vice versa.