Why don’t Developers innovate?

Vela Apagada

Why don’t developers innovate? Why do we see so little change in national technology products? Why do we see a few products released first in Brazil?

And I’m going to start apologizing because unfortunately I didn’t do a thorough statistical survey depending on the seriousness of the theme would require. I can’t confirm numbers to substantiate most of the things I write in this publication, but my qualitative observation tells me that the actual size of the hole can be much lower than I imagine.

If we innovate little, what are the reasons for that? Why we insist so much on not to walk on the edge? In use new things? The index of professionals early adopters in Brazil is very low. Hardly see a company here do more than “participate” in the definition of standards, the release of products or systems that do not have something like that in the world.

I’ll try to list below some reasons for that.

The culture of Invention

Innovate and invent

The Brazil is not an innovative country. No, this has nothing to do with intelligence or ability. We don’t like doing boring things, but we do like doing what nobody knows. We like to attend places where we have few known to count wonders of this place that we found.

Invent is to create something new. Innovation, on the other hand, is to improve something that exists. Of course there are cycles of creation within the innovation. It is necessary to create and creativity for both innovate and invent.

As developers, it is common to twist our noses to the development of others. That, by itself, evidence of our interest in developing new projects and only from a blank sheet.

Is technology innovation on a scientific concept, about a formula about a new effect. An invention is an innovation on a technology. A product innovation is about an invention.

A country of Inventors

They say that necessity is the mother of invention. The Brazilian is a people in need, so inventive.

We’re a nation of inventors and researchers, but we’re not a country of innovators. Innovation is something very different from the invention, although the two concepts are alike. Invent is to create something new, while innovation is to improve something that exists. Another way to assess the case is to say that the invention is a tool for innovation, that is, to improve something you need to invent something.

Regardless, it is obvious that the Brazilian is not really in such innovation. For me, the biggest example of this is the plane. Controversies aside, even if we have invented the airplane, took this idea and … Just fight until today to ensure the invention, but I’ve never seen any discussion of why we only have one company that manufactures planes here.

The culture of Profit

Quick Profit

At the same time we’re a nation of inventors from the technical side, the side of the investors we are a country that hates invest in things that don’t make money right away. And then we have a giant crater between the invention and the product on the shelf.

Investing in innovation is costly, difficult and is not subject to success always. As if quantiza how much money a product not yet released will bring to the company? As if quantiza not tangible assets such as intellectual property?

By precisely be this hole between the invention and the valued profit, there is no perception of value in the middle of the road, which is just where are the departments of innovation (and a greater scope, until the production department). It is very common including some companies consider that such functions are losses of money, which could cost should be cut.

I consider this a very distorted view of what really adds value to a company. It is obvious that every company must maximize its profit, as long as you don’t bust just what keeps in the market.

The problem of “profit on everything” brings me back to why there is no fisheries without fish. If fished all the fish from the River, the next year over the fishermen. The ability to innovate are the fish that were in the River: it is for her that a company stands on the market.

Zero Risk

In addition to the problems of staff little paid for risk, there is still a big problem within companies. The culture of zero risk.

Require employees to make evaluations and run risks is so rhetorical when companies wishing to employees “with a critical sense”: everyone says he wants, but when it has to get rid of. Risk is making decisions that can bring a competitive advantage, if deem right.

See: If you deem right.

If we do an assessment, I doubt very much that any entrepreneur or Director go positively evaluate an employee who gave her prejudice. Seems sensible if there was negligence, but if this is not the case? And if the employee had developed some kind of strategy with a high success rate, but that would fail and, unfortunately, came to fail?

The Brazil is a country that does not grant any success and cobra too expensive failure. Failure here is regarded as waste and, therefore, if on one hand we see disinterested employees to innovate, on the other we see companies that punish failure.

We have the perfect environment to keep everything as it is. And to view the life cycle of businesses around here (between 25 and 30 years) we can conclude that the truth is not far from it. In that time, the company loses the gas falls into the ostracism, and blames market loses everything but his own lack of innovation.

Let’s do some reasonings:

  1. Hit is synonymous with being good. Be good raises. And be valued, at some point, reflected in the salary.
  2. To err is bad because it is the opposite of all this.
  3. Making mistakes is part of the innovation process.

Therefore, there is a wide range of companies that force the employee not to innovate in order not to affect the own career and his own pocket. However, this is a bigger problem of company employee’s own.

The Fixed Assets

This is especially valid for companies that are not traded on a stock exchange value. It’s up to question:

What defines the success of a manager of a company owner?

Before the response, a reasoning. An apartment for rent. Care for people who live in rentals the sale value of an apartment? Very little. Matter how much are the rental values in the neighborhood and what the monthly rent this apartment will generate. If you’re in terrible condition, but generating a rent above market, matters little to it.

To answer the question, let’s evaluate companies. If the owner or shareholders don’t plan on selling it, what really matters is how much money (profit culture) is placed in the pocket of the investor. If the company is right or wrong, as long as they take profits, it doesn’t matter.

The answer is: the success of a company is measured in how much money you put in the pockets of owners.

Some companies are therefore fixed assets. As a generator of income apartment. Innovate in these companies, is taking money out of the pockets of shareholders and owners. Therefore, the innovation factor in such places is minimal.

The Developer Apathetic

The project Department

In most companies the companies have some type of development, there is a Department of projects. It’s not a sector, innovation is not a sector of research and development. Is a mere Department of project execution.

I say this because it is not a fact, Department of development: it is a team that performs technical functions as instructed. We will evaluate how a new product is born: normally, or a client takes the idea to the company or anyone discovers any foreign product that covers some market share.

Hardly see these professionals choosing new approaches on products (new processes, chipsets, architectures, etc.) without the blessing of the upper hierarchy. At most, and it’s not always, are only consulted for such. So no incentive and without a motivator, developers avoid risk: they are not being paid or, often, are not allowed to do so.

The culture of minimal effort

Most companies that have some type of development in Brazil tend not to pay these professionals. Some arrive at the absurdity of even suggesting that these do projects “freelance” and tolerate the deviation of hours to do so.

Because of this, there is a question of remuneration (reward) versus effort that is not balanced. A person will not buy fights by the company if it does not represent any gain for her. I comment on Self-development on the Pact of mediocrity: a person pretends to work for a company that pretends that pays well. Thus, we have the culture of minimal effort.

Note: also in Self-development, I recommend that the employee WILL NEVER adopt this posture. She never will bring any benefit.

Always Did Like That

That phrase, whenever there’s innovation, consider being hammered, buried and something very, very wrong is happening. I’ve never seen this phrase being used with noble motives: normally, it is used by the senior staff of the House, who have signed hundreds of lines of mediocrity Pact on junior.

Many companies have a culture of non-innovation, not to generate conflict or complications, officials tend to wake up at least. No professional, no matter how motivated you are, can resist when it is underpaid and pressed by colleagues to maintain the status quo.

It is up to the Manager to assess the capacity of your team and keep the same always sharp, to meet new challenges and not frightened, avoiding any innovation not to be punished.

Low Self-esteem

Underpaid, many developers do not acquire new skills by not see sense in improving. As this figure will “left” within the company, the gap of knowledge and of newbies is huge; However the skills gap. Are usually the first to massacre fellow innovators and are also the first to throw in the towel on any difficulty and appeal to the type to which they’re accustomed.

Explore the new, the different should be good, but brings a problem: the professional may face difficulty in learning something new and revealing their fear of not being as good as him self proclaims to be. And this is a very serious problem of ego: How can the developer be bad with his colleagues if he doesn’t stop complete power?

Low self-esteem leads developers to commit acts a behaviourally repellent, some that are on the unethical, but here, in this context, inevitably the fear of having your own image unmounted hinders innovative thinking.

I beg to differ: the challenges do not exist, there will be nothing, just the darkness of sameness. And in this situation, the difference between being very good or very bad is null.

Lack of Innovation Management

Most P&D problems arise because P&D managers do not manage a P&D. I usually split the bad managers in two categories:

  • Senior Developers
  • The Commercial and production Interfaces

But in none of the cases it shows Development managers concerned about methods, processes or routing. Billing is not clear (except when it affects billing) or concern for the careers of the developers.

The lack of engineering management is a serious problem here in Brazil. So, there is a very good article about the rarity of good engineering managers.

Note: I regard that as problematic that this entire blog is an attempt to help developers and development managers with everything I learned.


This article unfortunately some problems of why don’t we see more innovation in Brazil. If there is a remedy for this problem? Yes. Of short term? I don’t think so. We are improving or getting worse at this point? That’s a good question.

We have a perverse cycle around the innovation in Brazil: companies that do not add value to professionals, professionals who do not adopt postures of innovation and growth. I suggest whenever the professional worry about your own career and not between or cooperate with this cycle: if it’s easy to do this? No, of course it’s not.

There is a lot of resistance to improve something, since psychological reasons, social (social here is the interaction between developers) or even financial. Invest in a country with Brazil’s interest rates is something really complicated and the intangibility of innovation not collaborates in anything for that. And innovation depends on investment directly.

However, to answer the question, despite the negative picture, I actually prefer to think we’re improving. There are several initiatives around promoting innovative thinking, not only at the technical level, but also in terms of investment. As a very personal now, if I really thought there’s no way, I wouldn’t be investing my time promoting themes and ideas to enhance (or help improve) the technology professionals.

About rftafas 183 Articles
Ricardo F. Tafas Jr graduated in Electrical Engineering at UFRGS with focus on Digital Systems and achieved his Masters also in Electrical Engineering on Telecomunications Network Management. He also author of "Autodesenvolvimento para Desenvolvedores (Self-development for developers). Ricardo has +10 years experience on R&D Management and +13 years on Embedded Eystem Development. His interest lay on Applied Strategic HR, Innovation Management and Embedded Technology as a differentiator and also on High Performance Digital Systems and FPGAs. Actually, he is editor and writer for “Repositório” blog (, editorial board member at Embarcados (https://embarcados.com.br) and he is Management and Innovation Specialist at Repo Dinâmica - Aceleradora de Produtos.
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