Jeff Atwood has a pretty formulaic piece on there being 2 types of programmers. 20% Gurus and 80% Morons is effectively his argument and it’s a pretty slack one. There are lots ways to slice and dice the development community into different groups but at the sweeping generalization level (where Jeff casts his net) there are definitely 3. I’ll call the third group that Jeff missed; Executive Programmers (EPs for short)
EPs make up a small minority, their ranks include people like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Not all are entrepreneurs but all are business people or leaders. Steve Jobs is a great example because his business partner Steve Wozinak is one of the worlds top Gurus (one of Jeffs 20%ers).
But without Jobs; Wozinak would have been nothing. His incredible gift for being a technologist would never have been expressed in a world-changing way. That’s not to say Jobs could have done it on his own. Nor did Zuckerberg write every line of facebook. Nor did Gates write Windows 3.11 but each is perfect example of an Executive Programmer.
To paraphrase Bruce Lee: “To the Executive Programmer, a program is just a program.” EPs understand how their systems fit into the economic and social context of the day. They get the actual value of technology. And some of them change the world.
So if you think you’re a Guru and you’re a little bored of all the same old ideas orbiting about; why not take the next step and make your own a reality.