Making non-coders code

Requiring non-programmers to code isn’t a great idea


1. You’re asking - no, requiring - people who have never coded and (likely) have never wanted or been trained to code, and who may not have a good aptitude for it, to code. Putting employees in this position can cause stress and unhappiness and, ultimately, isn’t likely to produce a happy workforce or good code.

2. You’re asking - no, requiring - professional programmers to teach, train, and mentor non-programmers. Just like not everyone wants to, likes to or has an aptitude to code, not everyone wants to, likes to or has an aptitude to teach. Again, unhappiness may result.

3. It’s one thing to ask non-programmers to learn some programming basics and even try some actual coding, it’s quite another to require them to create or support production code. That’s just asking for trouble. Programming is a profession that people study and practice for years to master. Plus, the real programmers at the company are the ones who will have to clean up any bugs or problems with the code written by the non-programmers. As a former developer, I would not have been happy at the thought of supporting code that was being written by the HR department. Better I spend my time on “mundane” tasks than cleaning up someone else’s coding mess.

Back to my public media experience, while we were all encouraged to learn about fundraising and participate when it made sense, they were not about to ask a web developer, accountant or network administrator to court a major donor or write fundraising copy. That was left to the real professionals, people who had devoted educations and careers to learning that craft.

There’s a reason you don’t see things like:


  • Pilots training flight attendants how to fly so they can handle the occasional takeoff or landing
  • Plumbers teaching their office managers how to work a snake so they can come out to your house and unclog the shower drain
  • Ryan Seacrest giving hosting lessons to American Idol grips so they can fill in for him early in the season


I exaggerate and jest, of course, to make my point. Ha! Honestly, nobody could ever fill in for Ryan Seacrest.

Seriously, though, I think this is a bad idea, but that’s just my opinion. Maybe it’s working really well for them, in which case more power to them. Maybe they’re onto something. But I doubt it.

What say you?

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