When something starts growing, it’s almost impossible to imagine that it’ll collapse. We see this in the stock market, we see this in BitCoin investments, and we see this literally everywhere we dare to look. If you asked a factory owner in the 1950s what he was most afraid of, automation and outsourcing wouldn’t even be on his radar. Only a decade later, we started inventing robots, and standardisation of parts made it cheaper to manufacture those parts in China – To the point where we are now living in a “post industrial society” – At least this is true for Europe and the US.
If you ask a politician about what he is focusing on in the future, his answer will be “knowledge”, “education” and “IT”. Not realising all of these three factors will simply become irrelevant, in a future not too far away from today. A human being cannot compare to the knowledge of a computer, and the cognitive abilities of a human will be dwarfed by a computer 7 years from now, and IT, particularly software development, will be standardised to the point where a trained monkey will be able to replace your “guru software developer” soon.
The guy according to legend responsible for Toyota’s success referred to the necessary strategy to win this race as “Kill your babies”. What he meant by that, was that at the peak of your success, when your company was saturated with success, you’d need something completely different to take over, that was able to meet the requirements of the “next wave”. He referred to this as “breakthrough innovation”. Steve Jobs was a magician in regards to this. Steve Ballmer was not. Today Apple is more worth than Microsoft. I wonder why …? 😉
As Steve Jobs saw the market for computers starting to show signs of being “saturated”, he invented the iPod, iPhone and iPad, in that order, because he could see that there was not much more to gain from incrementally improving computers. These inventions of course, basically cannibalised the market for computers, inevitably to some extent also damaging Apple’s ability to sell computers. However, Steve Jobs realised that the profits from selling iPads would dwarf the loss it created in their ability to sell computers – So he made “the leap”, and directed his company into “killing their babies”, and “breakthrough management”.
The software industry is really not that special, sorry guys! The relative cognitive expectations for a skilled industrial worker in the early 1900s was arguably not that different from the expectations of a software developer today. It required intimate knowledge of sometimes dangerous and highly complex machinery. Of course, during the 1970s, you could probably train monkeys to operate these machines. And those who believed they were “special” in the 1950s and 1960s, boy were they surprised as the 1970s came, and their skillsets and knowledge was basically worthless!
In fact Steve Ballmer was asked what he thought about the iPhone at its launch, at which point he simply laughed about it, and said “It has no stylus, so it won’t be of interest to the ‘professional market'”. Today you won’t find a CEO in this world with respect for himself, that does not own an iPhone.
Just like all other professions, the profession of System Development will at some point radically change. It will be victimised for the same ideas Henry Ford had when he invented the “assembly line”, and slowly at some point, we’ll be able to train monkeys to create software. Are you prepared for that point …?
I am … 😉
If you want to read my white paper about Software Factories, you can find it below.
And here is an example illustrating how you could train a monkey to create software.