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Thriving Blobs - A Developer Success Lab Comic

If you’re trying to improve developer experience, focus on developer thriving, instead of happiness or satisfaction.

Dec 13, 2023 • 2 Minute Read

  • Developer Experience
  • Professional Development
  • Learning & Development

Earlier this year, the Developer Success Lab released the Developer Thriving Framework: A research-backed framework detailing the sociocognitive processes that drive realistic and sustainable growth and development. The Developer Thriving Framework consists of four primary factors: Learning Culture, Agency, Belonging, and Self-efficacy and Motivation. 

When presenting on this research, we often hear two questions:

  1. Why thriving? Why not satisfaction or happiness?

  2. Is there an easy way for me to remember the four factors of Thriving?

In this science comic, we aim to answer these questions above in a casual and approachable way.

The Developer Success Lab presents: Thriving Blobs

When we decide to improve developer experience, we often make the mistake of focusing on happiness 
But happiness is context dependent. PLUS, it’s not something we can (or should) control for our engineers... 
...because like all other humans, engineers have lives and stressors outside of their workplace. 
Happiness also isn’t a very helpful measure of success. For example, it’s possible to feel happy, but unengaged. 
An alternative is measuring "satisfaction at work." But satisfaction is ALSO pretty vague. It can mean anything from "tolerable" to "awesome!" 
Satisfaction is also temporary. We can feel temporarily satisfied, but still be experiencing deep burnout. 
A better lens is THRIVING. Thriving developers grow and succeed over time in a healthy, realistic, and sustainable way. 
There are four elements of THRIVING: 
1. Learning Culture. This exists when teams and orgs celebrate the entire learning process, including making mistakes. 
2. Agency. This is when we give our developers a voice in how their work and success are defined and evaluated. 
3. Belonging. This is when we appreciate developers for who they are, AND support them to grow, explore, and change. 
4. Self-Efficacy & Motivation. This is when developers feel engaged and able to solve problems effectively. 
Finally, thriving is a process; we can’t “complete” thriving. Instead, we commit to the 4 elements of thriving each day. 

If you’re trying to improve developer experience, focus on developer THRIVING, instead of happiness or satisfaction!

To learn more about the science behind developer thriving, download the Developer Thriving White Paper.

Carol Lee, PhD

Carol L.

Carol Lee leverages her expertise in mental health and thoughtful measurement to study how developers cope and thrive through stressful circumstances. Carol has over a decade of experience leading academic and industry research in clinical health, measurement, and human behavior. Carol serves as a research fellow at the Integrated Behavioral Health Research Institute and as a clinical science advisor for Bravely Mental Health. She holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from UMass Boston.

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