The Importance of Pragmatism at Work

Pragmatism at work is highly correlated with success. A pragmatic person will keep the goals in mind when faced with a decision, a compromise, or a trade off. They will prioritize success for themselves, the team, and the organization over their personal opinions and ego. In contrast, a zealot will never compromise on their opinions, standards, and preferences. These characters are common place in software engineering. They have their text editor, or programming language, or processes that is the “one true way” and they will fight to theirs and everyone’s detriment to have it win out. Zealotry has it place with core values and ethics. You cannot compromise on your morals to achieve success at work. This is how you get Enrons, polluted rivers, and toxic social media. There is no tension between ethical zealotry and pragmatism. While a pragmatic person may be willing to compromise on a programming language choice, they will not compromise on illegality. In both cases, they are keeping the goals, plural, in mind. They will compromise on the programming language choice because a good software engineer can work in any language, and the important thing is to ship. They will not compromise on illegality and ethics because it may achieve a short term goal (say increasing profits) but in harms long term goals (theirs and the company’s reputation).

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