Writing Code is NOT a Value-Add Activity

Reading time ~ < 1 minutes

I’ve been working through David Anderson‘s last book; “Kanban“. Last Night towards the very end of the book I had a lightbulb moment.

When taking a lean approach to software development you need to focus on value-add activity. David’s acid-test for this is very smart – I paraphrase below…

“If it’s really a value-add activity, then you should be striving to do more of it”

Now, consider this. Are we writing code or delivering working valuable software that solves a customer or user business need?

Some of you may have worked in organizations that considered measuring programmer performance by lines of code produced. Like all great metrics, there are some fair reasons for measuring LOC but with the wrong motivation, it will drive the wrong behaviour. You’ll produce more lines of code but not more value.


Writing code is not a value-add activity. Producing working software that our customers and users need is.

Remember the concept of 4GLs – the more coding activity you could automate, the more real output you can get.

This approach is still relevant. Great software development teams automate as much of the coding as possible so that teams with strong domain expertise can focus on only writing the advanced business logic and don’t have to worry about the scaffolding.