Artisans Don’t Scale

Some software developers consider themselves as artists. After all, writing software can certainly have creative elements. However, these elements make up a minor part of a scalable team or product. 

Scalability, to me, has many facets: time, people, technologies and customers. 

Over time, years, a product may have many incarnations of product owners, managers, developer, strategies and so on. Artists live in the present. How will works with a time perspective of “now” hold up?

If artist #1 moves on and artist #2 steps in, what does the team do? Should the second artists creativity be stunted because of prior art? If so, he can’t be an artist. I can’t think of a good way to dig out of this hole…

In the art world, an artist tends to specialize in oil or water paints, sculpture, etc. After all, that is their medium. Do software artists have the same thoughts? Can they switch between development languages, operating systems, delivery platforms, or back-end technologies?

What if customer needs change? For example, say the government foists a new set of audit regulations on the customer domain? Implementing such a feature set sounds non-creative, in fact boring. So how is our bored artist going to get along?

So why bother with writing this? Some time ago, a software developer told me that he considered himself to be an artist. I thought this a peculiar comment and just kept it in mind over the years. Finally, I thought I had collected enough to squelch the silly notion. 

Artisans Don’t Scale

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