5 reasons why you need polymath programmers on your team

A polymath is someone who is knowledgeable in a wide variety of subjects or fields. And polymath programmers are people whose interests and knowledge cover programming and related subjects. In this age of information overload, let me tell you the 5 reasons why you absolutely must have at least one polymath programmer on your software development team.

1. They are fast learners
Their natural curiosity compels them to find out more about anything that interests them. Fueled by unwavering discipline, they quickly master the basics of a topic, and attain above average to advanced proficiency. Technology moves fast, and your team will benefit if at least one of you can keep up.

2. They are embracers of the unknown
You can only innovate if you are willing to step out of your comfort zone. To stand out means trying something no one’s done before. To create simple software solutions means seeing what cannot be seen. New ideas are born out of the darkness of the unknown. And polymaths are skilled at bringing them to light.

3. They are idea connectors
Their breadth of knowledge enables them to link seemingly disparate ideas and create new ideas. Sir Isaac Newton discovered the law of gravity from a falling apple. Archimedes found a way to calculate the volume of an irregular object when he was bathing in a bathtub. Fresh perspectives are a premium. The answer to your problem can be sitting just a few cubicles away.

4. They are role contortionists
They’re flexible. Polymath programmers know how to program in C. And C#. Probably Javascript too. Some Unix commands. ASP.NET. Connect to a database. Network stuff. Why a float or double is a very bad choice for storing monetary values. Write technical documents. Liaise with users. Answer technical questions from customers.

And when your star database administrator goes on leave, your polymath programmer can smoothly take on the duties. Your genius web developer has a cold and takes the day off? Let your polymath programmer handle that small but business critical graphic change.

This may sound degrading, but it’s true. Polymath programmers act like plug and play components. They can become whatever role you need them to be, whenever you need them to be.

5. They are autonomous agents
Set them an interesting and challenging task, and watch them work at it with little intervention from you. Amassing knowledge from different sources require self discipline and organisational skills. Let them know what you need, and stop bugging them. Your job as a manager is to stop other people from bugging them.

There you have it, the 5 reasons why having polymath programmers on your team can help with your bottom line. So how do you find them? That, my friend, is another story…

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