16 Tech Leaders Share Bad Habits They Wish Their Developers Would Break


Tech execs are more than ready to share the credit and praise their team members for everything they do. However, as any tech leader knows, developers can sometimes slip into bad habits that hinder workflow or slow down production.

If devs aren’t aware of these habits, they may not realize the impact their behaviors have on the rest of the team. To that end, 16 Forbes Technology Council members share a few key things they wish their developers would stop doing, and why.

1. Not Asking What Or Why

Often, internal or external customers provide specifications that explain how they want a software or an app to work. I wish more developers would make a habit of always asking what customers are trying to achieve, and why. With answers to these questions, they can contribute to finding the simplest, fastest, lowest-cost and lowest-effort steps to achieve that objective. – Alan Barnard, Goldratt Research Labs LLC


2. Estimating Time And Effort Without Accounting For Contingencies

Many developers estimate the time and effort it takes to complete a project without accounting for contingencies. Instead of doing this, strive to factor in reality. Hiccups happen. So make sure that you plan ahead by padding your delivery schedule and budget to account for the unexpected. – Marc Fischer, Dogtown Media LLC

3. Sticking To ‘What Works’

After our company started to grow, some developers became hyper-focused on improving our existing code without thinking about bigger opportunities. I believe this habit occurs when teams want to replicate success, so they stick to the same old formula and conclusions. The reality is developers need to think beyond what works now and focus on what could work down the road. – Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster

4. Not Working As Team Players

One thing I wish a few developers would stop doing is behaving like prima donnas. Many developers in Silicon Valley are treated like rock stars—rightfully so, as they are the talent. Without them, deploying modern software would not be possible. However, developers still need to work as team players. The synergy among dev team members is much greater than individual lines of effort. – Bob Fabien Zinga, Directly, Inc./U.S. Navy Reserve

5. Deflecting Challenges During The Product Lifecycle

With today’s methodology of agile and high-velocity product development, developers need to remember that they are accountable for the full software development lifecycle—they shouldn’t just deflect any challenges they may experience during the lifecycle (e.g., business engagement, infrastructure delivery, quality testing, etc.). – Mark Schlesinger, Broadridge Financial Solutions

6. ‘Reinventing The Wheel’

Developers today are under huge pressure to deliver fast and keep pace with technological change. One thing I ask our development team to stop doing is “reinventing the wheel” every time (instead of re-using) and then throwing half-baked, untested code to the testing team. I want developers to challenge tools and processes to make software engineering more efficient—but not at the cost of writing everything fresh. – Gaurav Aggarwal, Avanade Inc.

7. Arguing With Quality Assurance

Quit arguing with the QA team. Every person who works in QA has at least one story of a developer who would throw a fit if they got a ticket: “That’s not a bug, that’s a spec change.” Most developers have done this to some degree. Check your ego at the door and realize the QA people make you and the company better. They are not trying to pick on you. – David Moise, Decide Consulting

8. Having A ‘No Can Do’ Attitude

Developers, like everyone else in the organization, should adopt a “can do” approach. Since they are the most distanced from the business, in many cases developers start with “No can do” in response to any new requirement. While there is always a shortage of time and resources, developers should always try to start by asking themselves, “What is it that we need to do in order to meet the demand?” – Ariel Rosenfeld, 3d Signals

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9. Not Thinking Beyond ‘Execution’

Don’t stop doing—be curious and make it better. We have a hands-off approach with our developers and enable them to think beyond “execution.” If we stop them from innovating and solving problems creatively, we’re not doing anyone justice. Why? Because we’re not the developers. – Gene Yoo, Resecurity, Inc.

10. Focusing Too Much On Their Own Interests

Often, developers tend to focus too much on tasks and technologies that are interesting to them but that don’t bring value to the final product or the goal the team is trying to achieve. I think it’s key for tech specialists to find the balance between their interests and what’s important to their team and the product. – Ivailo Nikolov, SiteGround

11. ‘Navel-Gazing’

Developers occasionally get lost in vanity-fueled “navel-gazing.” They are creators, which is their strength. But that creativity has to be channeled to commercially viable solutions. When they start drifting toward building super-cool tech that will impress their developer counterparts, we refocus on the average consumer. We ask, “How are we making our average customer’s life easier?” – James Draper, Bidstack

12. Not Asking Security Colleagues For Help

I wish development teams would realize that they have a vested partner in their security team. For example, instead of laboring unnecessarily to understand the potential ramifications of a code flaw in their dev environment, they should tap their colleagues in security and ask for assistance. You don’t have to be an expert in everything to do an excellent job. – David Stapleton, CyberGRX

13. Missing The Forest For The Trees

Developers tend to see all of the problems, which is the right thing to do at times. However, anchoring their focus to business and customer value—rather than technical nuances—at the start of a project can often be a challenge for developers. – Denis Whelan, Projector PSA

14. Retreating Into Silos

Developers should have a clear understanding of the requirements and specifications of the projects they are working on. This requires frequent communication between the clients—internal and external—and the developers to validate needs, expectations and deliverables. This means developers must stop going into their “caves” and coding in a silo and silence. – Kumar Ritesh, CYFIRMA

15. Focusing Only On Output

Developers tend to have the bad habit of focusing only on delivering the required output. But great developers have an outcome-based approach. For example, the output could be just delivering design documents, code coverage, unit tests and functionality implementation. Outcome-based thinking focuses on asking, “Why are we are building a solution, and what will make the solution truly meet its objectives?” – Nitesh Sinha, Sacumen

16. Making ‘Perfect’ The Enemy Of ‘Good Enough’

Developers tend to get very myopic, focusing on the tech problem in front of them. They lose sight of the big picture: the purpose of the project in the context of the overall business. As a result, they often get stuck trying to achieve perfection rather than what is good enough to achieve the project’s goal. – Ruchi Goyal, Accenture

Successful CIOs, CTOs & executives from Forbes Technology Council offer firsthand insights on tech & business.


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