Today’s Twitter Gem is courtesy of Gary Gaessler (@ggaessler) who provided a link to an intriguing article written by Jason Cavnar, titled “Why developers should start choosing conscience over profit“.
It is not often that writers challenge the ethics and motives behind our life choices. As society we often admire and envy those people who,using their innate talent, are able to accelerate themselves financially and collect unimaginable fortune.
Jason Cavnar’s target audience is developers and innovators who apply themselves to chasing fame and furtune that, at the same time (perhaps unintentionally) help ”perpetuate a false narrative about what motivates technical innovators and what true technical innovation can and ought to be.”
Jason makes a distinction between two classes of developers: Makers and Takers.
Takers are developers and innovators that exploit the demand for people with ‘hot’ skills and surf the market, moving from one start-up to the next, optimising their opportunities and maximizing their cash and status positions.
Makers, on the other hand, “choose their work based on impact and happiness”, acknowledging that “income does not generate happiness or enjoyment, nor alleviate sadness or stress. They concern themselves with doing work that is important. With thinking about what moves society forward. With jobs and start-ups and weekend hacking and open-source contributions to things that have a real-world impact. They introduce and push fundamentally new technologies”.
Referencing a 2012 study titled “What workers want in 2012” he mentions that “more than 70 percent of college students and 50 percent of workers are looking for jobs with social impact“. The study further suggests that “Most people say that having a job that makes a social impact on the world is an important life goal“.
With the above in mind Jason calls for a total re-think by all involved in the process of initiating, gearing up to and executing innovative activities. This should include investors, engineers, educational and training institutions, etc.
As I was further researching this topic I’ve come across a related post in the Business Ethics Blog, titled “The Ethics of Innovation“. The blog’s author, Prof. Chris MacDonald, argues that innovation needs to be managed in an ethical context. Some innovations are good because “they make human lives better in concrete ways“. Others, however, are bad innovations as they result chaos and destruction. This means then that innovation needs to undergo ethical evaluation and executed based on the value and risk it carries.
Organizations, and – as we’ve seen above – employees, need to be aware of their ethical and professional responsibility to making ethically considered decisions. At the end of the day, and this applies to us all, we need to be able to look back and ask ‘why do we do what we do’ – both as organizations as employees – and be able to feel comfortable and happy about it.
Think about it!