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I do product. I don’t do code.
Some people are surprised by this. I work with tech businesses, after all. In the eyes of some, it reduces my credibility. For a few, it rules me out completely.
There are several reasons why I don’t code, including the fact that there a tons of people out there who have far more passion for it and proficiency at it that I could ever have. But there are three that are key.
Firstly, my strengths lie elsewhere. I’m interested in all the other stuff that goes to make up a great product or service. I’m good at spotting what’s missing and filling the gap as quickly and easily as possible. Getting involved in the code would be a major distraction.
Secondly, I am the customer champion. As far as I’m concerned, if it doesn’t deliver a recognisable benefit to the customer, it gets chucked out. I am above being seduced by the neatness of the feature, the elegance of solution or the brilliance of the code. I am immune to the conceits of ‘pet’ features. If it doesn’t rock the customer’s boat, it’s out. My detachment from the code is crucial to maintain that clarity.
And thirdly, I don’t need to know. I don’t have to do it to appreciate and value it. I know how hard developers work, how difficult it can be to do apparently simple things.( I also know what padding and filler looks like and how to ask difficult questions, btw). I can’t cook a gourmet meal, make a vintage wine or sing like Sinatra but I can appreciate the skill and talent involved. And I can tell if it’s good or not.
Instead, I spend my time creating an environment where the coders can do their very best stuff. And then we all get to do the things we excel at.