Should We Put Less Emphasis on Technical Competencies?

Before you embark on your ambitious project, it is essential to recognise the importance of technical proficiency. Possessing an understanding of programming languages such as React, NodeJS, Python, Ruby, Rust and PHP can be useful when attempting to create a tech giant like Uber, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Slack, SafeBoda, Jumia or Twitter. However, it is not only the technology that you know that will lead to success when constructing these large-scale products; other factors such as strategic thinking, creativity and problem-solving are essential in achieving success.

It is often asked if one individual, working in isolation and fueled by coffee, could have created the digital technology giants that are so successful today. Most people would agree that the answer is no; the development of these innovative applications requires collective effort and collaboration. Therefore, it is evident that coding skills alone are not enough to achieve success; the ability to work effectively in a team is also essential. This highlights the fact that technical expertise is sometimes overvalued.

Working with a software developer on a collaborative project revealed a significant lack of expertise in the field. Far from the typical hesitation that even the most experienced professionals have, this individual was closed off to any kind of constructive feedback which would have enabled him to improve his work. This resulted in a highly challenging experience, as we had to continually edit and revise the work he had done, leading to an overall slow-down in the progress of the project and, in some instances, subpar work that was not ready for publication.

When I was part of a different squad during boot camp, I had a very distinct experience. My teammate was aware of his technical limitations and was eager to learn from those around him. He never shied away from asking questions and would persistently seek clarification until he was satisfied. Additionally, he did a great job of keeping us updated on his progress, no matter how small. Surprisingly, he was more inspired by constructive criticism than praise. If someone praised his work, he would ask questions like “How could you do it better?” and “Why would you do it like that?”. If he saw that the suggested approach increased product performance, he would actively work to incorporate those changes into his next assignment. I couldn’t have asked for a better colleague. Even if I had more experience than him, working with him was a rewarding experience, as it pushed me to evaluate my own motivations for certain tasks.

It is often suggested that technical expertise was the driving force behind the success of this product, however if one takes a wider view, this is not the case. The success of the project was due to our team’s ability to be open to new information and stay connected with each other. User needs and technology are ever-changing so it is important to ensure that our team is consistently learning and adapting to new technologies. An example of this is the rise of JavaScript in the last 30 years, replacing the BASIC programming language which was popular in the 1970s. To remain successful, technologists must be willing to move forward with different technologies.

While anyone has the potential to learn how to code, not all people are willing to continuously embrace new information and approaches. The capacity to accept constructive criticism is not something that everybody is capable of doing. Sadly, there are not many introverts who are open to making even the smallest of modifications to their personalities in order to be more vocal and confident when engaging with others. It is also unfortunate to think that not everybody is honest. Most of these qualities are connected to an individual’s character, which cannot be changed in a short period of time. We have seen firsthand how certain people’s rigid perspectives can impede the progress of a product meant to become, for example, the next Amazon.

The transformation from an unpleasant attitude to a pleasant one is not easy to achieve overnight. It requires a lot of effort and dedication. However, when it comes to coding, some individuals have the capacity to learn quickly and can become proficient in Django applications by studying the documentation. Both Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and Intelligence Quotient (IQ) are important for success in the workplace. In my opinion, since it is simpler to increase one’s IQ than their EQ, Works has been successful in hiring people with higher IQs since its founding. If you wish to increase your IQ, it is important to focus on your EQ.

The value of an engineer who uses emotional intelligence as much as intellectual ability cannot be overstated.

As a parting gift, here is a quotation from an accomplished writer.

“The intellect and the heart are inextricably connected; one cannot think or learn independently of the other.” — Eric Jensen

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