Talent, Skill and Opportunity

There are four kinds of software engineers that I’ve come across:

  • Talented: These are the people who would intuitively guess how something works, and of course, it’d turn out that yes, that’s exactly how it does work. People who come up with a solution so simple and elegant that others feel a bit behind the evolutionary churn. But for some reason or the other, these people are not as productive as one would expect. For various reasons: software is not their primary area of interest, they lack the discipline that engineering demands, or sometimes just plain lazy. You might still want them one your team just for the flashes of insight they provide, if they’re affable enough.
  • Skilled: You can spot them by their notebooks. They work hard, they are motivated. They keep themselves up-to-date. They know their job, their goals, and they have the determination to do whatever it takes to get to the goal. They may not come up with an original creative solution, no innovative breakthroughs; and often they know that they would not, too. Skilled people invariably travel far ahead of their talented counterparts. These people you definitely want on your team.
  • Talented + Skilled: They go very, very far. A natural flair, honed by hard work and discipline quite often ensures success in all endeavors. You want to be on the team of such a person.
  • Talented + Skilled + an opportunity: A lucky break, a hand of God.. Given to a person with talent and skill, the spark turns into a forest fire. These are the names familiar to all people within the organization; names that you’d recognize around the Internet. People whose potential was exploited by an opportunity. A blessing, offered and utilized, by the best recipient. You’d be lucky to know one in person.

So what, you ask? Well, nothing much, to be honest. Just some food for thought.


  1. Vatsal said,

    Nov 8, 2007 at 1:36 pm

    quite true,
    motivation and hard work are the two key factors for a successful software engineer,
    Even if Einstein would have been just “plain lazy” or wouldn’t have put enough effort, he must have ended like any other joe, wasting all the talent he had.

    In special cases where you have the combination of both(talent + skill), you achieve what very few have achieved before.


  2. George said,

    Nov 9, 2007 at 9:04 pm

    Well put. I think that the talented developers simply have a natural inclination towards problem solving and feel most comfortable developing software.

    The problem I often encounter in the corporate space is that companies often refuse to listen to innovative ideas and simply follow well-tread paths with outdated technology. That may work for now and in the near future, but it is certainly short-sighted.

  3. Eager Reader said,

    Jan 11, 2008 at 12:37 am

    Dear Tired Architect,

    We are awaiting more words of wisdom from you. Please post some more -We’re reading!

    Eager Reader

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