Managers Who forget are damaging

I recently came across a great article about US manufacuring facilities bringing things back from China. Turns out that with rising oil costs, increased wages in China, and innovations at home, they can actually make things cheaper and faster in the US again.

While that’s interesting, it’s not the focus of this post, just the catalyst. Today I want to explore some things I’ve seen in managers from previous jobs.

Often managers of technical teams, used to be part of the technical team. They sat in the trenches and proved that they could ship code, and got promoted. Then…

It happens slowly. When you first send the toaster or the water heater to an overseas factory, you know how it’s made. You were just making it—yesterday, last month, last quarter. But as products change, as technologies evolve, as years pass, as you change factories to chase lower labor costs, the gap between the people imagining the products and the people making them becomes as wide as the Pacific.

This exact same thing happens to a manager that stops coding. At first they know what the team is going through, then it’s been so long they are out of touch. They’ve become most adept at playing the political field, since that is what they do daily.

This is something that worries me as I get more work and look at hiring. Unless I’m careful, I’ll loose touch and its likely to harm my developers.