management technology

Here's a caricature of modern development practices: there's a boss who has "people" skills (represented with the filled circle within the circle), and they manage engineers/programmers who have "problem solving" (triangle) and "coding" (diamond) skills.

The dotted line represents the payroll of the company. It is difficult to experiment with things above this line, e.g., it is hard to fire people. It is much easier to experiment with stuff below this line, and this is where "technological progress" occurs.

Here's a new model that I think we can achieve with online labor markets like oDesk. A new sort of "engineer" is created who has some "people" skills and "problem solving" skills, and they contract work to people with "coding" skills. Note that the coders are not what we think of today when we think about programmers at Google or Microsoft -- if you've looked at interview questions for places like this, you'll see that they are not testing coding skills but rather problem solving skills. In comparison to problem solving, coding is relatively easy.

Note that the payroll line moves up. This allows for experimentation with ways of hiring and arranging work beneath this line. This allows for the development of what we might call "management technology" (name credit to Devin Fidler).

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