You’re looking for the best. But do you really mean it?


You’re looking for the best. But do you really mean it?

As I acquire more experience in this game, I routinely interface with recruiters and companies that claim that they’re looking for topnotch talent. They almost all say that they want top performers. However, are the organizations that absorb these top performers into their existing development teams willing to accommodate these performers with the support that got them there?

I have learned that for most organizations, the answer is no.

So what really separates mediocrity from the extremely talented? Is it a God-given gift? Or is it one’s uncompromising commitment? More than likely, it’s one’s commitment to be the best that ultimately recognizes them as the best.

Therefore, if you acquire a topnotch developer that continuously practices to be an even better developer based on their discipline (aka: rigorous procedures) for cultivating code, and you put that developer in a room with average developers that don’t care as much about improving their craft, then what do you expect to happen? I will tell you. The existing camp will recognize the developer as a foreigner and attempt to influence the new hire to adapt to their way of building software. Translated, a software shop just won’t change their habits just because a top performer is now on the team. Instead, the existing team is more likely to constrain his/her abilities so that they will fall inline with the way that software is currently being produced. Hence, humans like “consistency” regardless of its effectiveness. This type of behavior will ultimately frustrate any top performer because they are forced to produce software not to the best of their ability, but instead to the limited abilities of the existing developers.

In conclusion, if you really want to attract top talent, is your organization willing to change their practices to retain them?


Scott Nimrod is fascinated with Software Craftsmanship.

He loves responding to feedback and encourages people to share his articles.

He can be reached at scott.nimrod @

2 Replies to “You’re looking for the best. But do you really mean it?”

  1. I suspect ‘Top Talent’ is a filter they want to use in the hope it assures they get a capability that meets their need, which they may not in itself fully understand anyway by the time it has gone through HR channels and come out the other end.

    Could it be actually possible what they really want is talent without rough edges, that will fulfil their true requirement of being competent enough to service a requirement using an established and delivered method. That method needs delivery by quality teams that control the environment they need to deliver that quality. That usually means not in house.

    Inevitably there will be a tension between the need for quality consultancy, and the need to retain knowledge, but they need to embrace it and find a way.

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