World’s Best Programmer is… [w/ Challenge]

anotherstar …to be announced at the end of this series.

unkown-person I am often asked what is it that I do that results in the programmers with whom I interact being so productive; what is it I do to get them motivated and to keep them motivated; and where can I find / who is the World’s Best Programmer.


My answer is many fold and I provide a framework towards greater understanding in part 1.

The path to the motivated programmer, the happy programmer, is unique to each individual. There are, however, some general, instructional guides towards better understanding for all involved parties, and especially regarding those conditions that make for that highly motivated programmer.

Today, let’s take a deeper look at Challenge.


Challenge can be seen as a double-edged sword. Challenges surround programmers each and every day, both as motivators and demotivators. While not necessarily a driver of success in every programmer, some prefer to keep it simple and focus on the familiar and ‘what they are good at.’ Nonetheless, leveraging Challenges towards positive outcomes is very prevalent where good programmers are found, especially within the environment of the World’s Best Programmer.

Challenges that foster …

  • personal and career growth,
  • new learning, and
  • meaning

… represent the best drivers of excitement and reward.

Many programmers will always be able to find fun, productive, and new ways to Challenge themselves simultaneously benefiting those around them.

Other programmers may seek a challenge that provides that personal meaning, but require a little guidance. Work with programmers and assist them in finding or building upon Challenges that are new and exciting to them. Reinvigorating a common task or a persistently onerous effort through finding that Challenging, motivating spark will bring new life and engagement to both the work and the programmer.

Different programmers are motivated by finding different, personally appealing, Challenges in their daily work. These Challenges can be anything from …

  • Optimizing speed or memory,
  • Reducing the total number of source code lines,
  • Satisfying the needs of a client,
  • Maximizing modularity and reusability, and/or
  • Crafting that perfect algorithm.


One way to build an environment with positive challenges is to support the many seeds already present in the form of friendly competition. Such friendly competition, when appropriately encouraged and reinforced is great in the establishment of a self-sustaining, self-organizing system of motivational Challenges.

Friendly competitions can take on the form of total number of tasks completed, to fastest execution, to more broadly inclusive contests for ‘coolest’ app.


Within an atmosphere of open Communication it becomes easier to learn how to transform problems that demotivate into those that Challenge in a rewarding way (for the programmer, as well as many more within the organization).

No Limits

A common mistake when thinking about what sort of ventures are best for Challenging programmers is to stereotype and only think technically. There are many ways a programmer may be seeking to grow in their job that can equally be great motivators of success, from tech, to business, to peer interaction. Keeping the Challenges varied and the communication flowing will help identify those tasks (perhaps not previously even realized by the programmer) that bestow new and meaningful experiences. These could be such activities as being a manager for a product or learning to be a better communicator or more socially engaged with the non-technical groups.


From the good programmer to the World’s Best, Challenge them and provide new ways to give meaning and value to their work.

The Search Continues

In addition to…

Clarity, Organization & Focus
Communication & Inclusion

… and before this individual, World’s Best Programmer, is announced, the characteristics…


… will be further explored and discussed in the subsequent articles of this multi-part series.

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series highlighting many of the key driver’s of your team’s motivated programmers, nor the denouement of World’s Best Programmer, as well as other insightful posts from The Product Guy.


Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

Add to Social Bookmarks: Stumbleupon Furl Reddit Magnolia Google Add to Mixx!
%d bloggers like this: