Peter Drucker — you haven’t heard of him, but he is a prophet among people who sign checks…

Don’t Call Yourself A Programmer, And Other Career Advice by Patrick McKenzie

That quote, while written somewhat in jest, is an insightful commentary on software developers. Peter Drucker is considered the father of modern management. He’s written 39 books that have been translated into 36 languages. How can it be said that developers, the majority working for managers, don’t know who he is?

Who Signs The Checks?

There are a lot of tools and techniques designed to make developers think more about the end user, and rightly so. But for many of us, we don’t put in similar work to understand the problems and needs of the people actually paying us to write code. You can find an infinite number of blogs about insert your favorite language/tool, but it’s rare to find technical writing that points us to think about code from a business perspective.

If we want to serve our clients/managers better, we would do well to learn more about the problems they face. Instead of reading another programming book or listening to a conference talk yet again, why not study something that will give us insight into the people we work for? We can make space to understand managers and executive teams without having to abandon all technical study.

When was the last time you thought about your position in relation to everything your manager is responsible for?

What are the top problems facing your executive team? What framework or mental model are they using to approach those problems? In what way are you well suited to help solve those problems? Is that what you’re currently doing?

There are myriad questions to ask and approaches to take; the goal is simply a deeper understanding of managers and executives. That deeper understanding will lead us to develop more effective solutions for the people we serve.

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