Who are you working for?

squaresWhile taking a mental break this morning to read my new favorite blog Coding Horror, I came across Jeff’s post about UNIX turning 40 years old. While I digested his points about the different closed source, open source and mixed source flavors of *NIX, I was pleasantly surprised when a quote from Joel Spolsky in Jeff’s post resonated with me so deeply in a completely different direction than it’s original intent. Let’s take a look:

What are the cultural differences between Unix and Windows programmers? There are many details and subtleties, but for the most part it comes down to one thing: Unix culture values code which is useful to other programmers, while Windows culture values code which is useful to non-programmers. This is, of course, a major simplification, but really, that’s the big difference: are we programming for programmers or end users? Everything else is commentary.

So when I read this quote my mind immediately went elsewhere… I began to grapple with a more fundamental question. Are we programming working for programmers work’s sake or end users to help someone else? I mean, not just making a product or a service that helps someone do something, but really helping people grow, transform, and enable them for success while getting the job done every day.

How does thinking about the people you’re helping – change how you work or what decisions you make? Think about it, if you’re a consultant hired by another company, your client isn’t just the company that hired you, but it’s the people impacted by your clients business and that interface with the client.

This train of thought was initially started by taking several managerial assessments and discovering among other things that my Social/Altruistic aspect of my natural style is almost off the charts when compared to the national average. Continuing on that train, I think one of my favorite quotes is in order.

“Every person must decide, at some point, whether they will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive
selfishness. This is the judgment. Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ’What are you doing for others?’” –Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., August 11, 1957

I’d love to hear your comments on how this alternative view impacts your outlook on work, I’m still contemplating the impact on my own.

By the way, Happy Birthday UNIX.

4 thoughts on “Who are you working for?

  1. This is a good question.
    Who are we working for?

    At the end of the day all of our endeavors impact people and/or our environment. We don’t build sprokets to make cars more efficient; we build sprokets to help people save money on gas- and to help find healthy environmental balance for people throughout the world.

    I work on Entertainment. This has me thinking is there a way for entertainment to enrich other aspects of peoples lives as well? More than making better use of leisure time?


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