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Years ago I worked for a hospital. I noticed that many nurses smoked while physicians (mostly) did not. They read the same studies on the effects of smoking and treated the same emphysema and lung cancer patients. Yet, the difference in behavior was there. A friend of mine was a psychologist who worked on smoking cessation so I related the phenomenon to her. Apparently, it’s well-known that people in jobs with high responsibility and low decision-making authority tend toward smoking and other stress relievers. That description certainly fits nurses.
Software developers tend to be in that position now. Organizations increasingly rely on software as the embodiment of their processes and gatekeeper of their information. Yet, we seem to be a leaf-node on the decision-making tree.
The job I had prior to the hospital was a startup company in the Boston area, circa 1995. I was picked for a team of 8 or so to implement a system that was, in essence, an PaaS forerunner. (They put the senior-most people on the project, which was sad because I had only two years of professional experience as a developer. But, that’s another matter.) For about 8 weeks, we worked between 60-80 hours trying to jam it in. During that time, one team member went to the hospital with chest pains while another had an outright heart attack. But, the company did reward us with a $100 American Express gift card for each team member.
At some point, I keep hoping that organizations will start recognizing that we need to be used strategically: a voice in decisions on how to use technology. Frankly, organizations aren’t getting full value for us until they do.


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