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Tech is Downstream From Culture

Have you ever worked with a code base that has room for improvement? I have, I’d say consistently throughout my career, been in that situation. There is always room for improvement. In all the organizations I’ve been in there has also naturally been long discussion regarding what can be done to mitigate these found problems. These solutions tend to always be technical in nature, and just recently it occurred to me that I think that whole discussion is missing the point.

First of, yes, clearly, there are technical problems that at times needs to be mitigated. Once you come in to a company that’s of a specific scale though, the technical problems you observe are likely not the result of one faulty technical decision taken a long time ago. Rather they are the result of a corporate structure and a corporate culture that has made these twists and turns in the code to be a natural result. Think of it like a plant. The plant grows from a small seed. Quickly different environmental pressures are applied to the plant that affects how it grows. It might have too little or too much water. It might be in the shade. There might be strong winds that constantly makes a specific growth pattern natural. Now look at your code. It’s the exact same thing. The code grows out of the minds of it’s creators. The minds of its creators is configured by the structures of the corporation they exist in. The corporation they exist in is shaped sometimes by chance and sometimes by leadership.

So. If you want to rectify structural technical problems, then your solution will most likely not exist in the code. Rather it exists in shaping up and enabling the right people with the right mindset to build the right thing that you want. If you get that configuration right, the technical problems will resolve themselves.