Insights from Codegarden: The People Business in Technology


Insights from Codegarden: The People Business in Technology


I recently attended the Codegarden Festival in Denmark, a highly revered event focusing on Umbraco CMS. The experience was transformative, leaving an indelible mark on my perspective of our industry. If I could distil the essence of the festival into one key personal insight, it would be that people are the most important part of any business. We have always known this here at Bluegrass – we pride ourselves in being “a digital solutions company powered by people”, but Codegarden carried a very important reminder of something that is often undervalued or overlooked in the relentless pursuit of progress in our industry.


The festival’s atmosphere was quite unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, imbued with a palpable sense of warmth and camaraderie. As you are finding your way to the venue, Umbraco employees welcome you with wide smiles, high fives, and a sense of infectious enthusiasm that set the tone for the whole three-day event. The collective friendliness of everyone there filled me with renewed hope, not only for the future of our industry, but also for humanity at large.



Human Relationships at the Core
The critical role of human relationships was highlighted to me throughout the festival – from the high fives all round, to the rebranding of “networking” to “friend-making”, to the uBuddy program to help first-timers find their feet, and of course in the inspirational talks themselves. All of this served as a reminder of the importance of camaraderie, empathy, and genuine connection within the business culture. The ability to foster such a nurturing environment is invaluable for any organization.


One particularly inspiring talk was the keynote presentation at the business summit by Marianne Dahl Steensen, former VP for Microsoft Western Europe. Her speech challenged conventional thinking within our ever-evolving industry. Dahl emphasized that in the tech industry, the value of current knowledge diminishes due to constant changes, suggesting that learning potential should be valued over experience in the hiring process.


Further, Dahl tackled the concept of motivation, arguing that people are not driven by what she termed a “burning platform,” such as hitting sales targets or meeting KPIs. Instead, they’re propelled by a “burning desire,” a passion for something meaningful to them. For businesses, this means igniting a sense of purpose in their employees beyond standard performance metrics.


Empathy and Coding: Closer Than You Think
One of the more memorable people-focused sessions of the festival drew fascinating parallels between empathy and coding. The speaker, Mette Lorenzen, made compelling connections between the two domains and she made great practical suggestions on how to better empathise and connect with others. One major takeaway for me from this session was the impact that COVID-19 has had on my own work relationships and the importance of building and maintaining these connections in a remote working context.


To make an effort to strengthen my own connections, I’ve resolved to dedicate some time each week to speak to a colleague I wouldn’t ordinarily interact with about non-work-related topics. By doing this, I hope to foster deeper relationships within my professional circle.


The Brilliance of Not Being Brilliant
Without a doubt the main highlight for me personally was Jason Wodicka’s talk, “The Brilliance of Not Being Brilliant”, which I had missed the previous day and was fortunate enough to attend by being in the right place at the right time (it was an unscheduled encore performance). I believe this was the first time a talk was asked to be repeated at Codegarden, a testament to the incredible value it offered and to Wodicka’s superb delivery. They challenged the conventional notion of brilliance, suggesting that brilliance is often the result of a lot of ordinary actions coming together over time. It’s not an inherent attribute, but rather, a perception resulting from consistent, ordinary, hard work.


Furthermore, Wodicka presented the idea that a ‘clever’ solution, while it might feel satisfying to implement, can often lead to challenges in maintenance and workability. Instead, they argued that simplicity is the hallmark of brilliance in coding.


Another important point Wodicka made was that, often, disputes about problem-solving in a project are compounded due to misunderstandings about the problem itself. People spend time disagreeing on how to get from point A to point B, but oftentimes it turns out that they do not actually even agree where point A and B even are in the first place. Stating the obvious and making sure there is agreement on where we are and where we are going is critical to finding effective solutions.


Beyond the Festival: Sustainability and More
While there were numerous sessions at Codegarden addressing sustainability, diversity, and accessibility, these important topics warrant further discussion beyond the scope of this article. Not only do they contribute to the creation of better products, but they also represent aspects of our industry that have historically been given mere lip service.


Codegarden reminded me of the critical role that people and human connections play in the technology industry. Amid the ceaseless tide of change and innovation, it’s the human element – the capacity for empathy, connection, and mutual understanding – that truly drives our industry forward. I left the festival with renewed hope and a conviction to foster these values within my professional sphere.



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