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InfoQ Homepage Articles InfoQ Culture & Methods Trends Report - April 2024

InfoQ Culture & Methods Trends Report - April 2024

Key Takeaways

  • Whilst remote working presents challenges to innovation and collaboration, there are effective techniques to address them
  • Staff-Plus engineers bring value through far more than their technical skills
  • Developer Experience can be measured and there are metrics that can be used to find small improvements that make a huge difference
  • It is possible and practical to include climate impact as a quality attribute of a software product
  • The use of AI tools, such as large language models, can enhance the work of good programmers but do not replace the need for human expertise and creativity

This report summarizes how the InfoQ Culture and Methods editorial team sees the ongoing and emergent trends in the culture and methods space.  We discuss evolving roles within teams, particularly the way staff plus roles can add value, the use, and misuse of DevEx metrics, how remote and asynchronous work continues to evolve, the fact that a lack of diversity is still a challenge in information technology, the slow pace of adoption of modern leadership approaches in many organizations and the need to move from climate change awareness to climate-conscious software engineering. Of course, we could not explore trends today without looking at the impact of AI and LLMs, but we looked at them from a risk and benefit perspective for the people involved in software engineering.

You can also listen to the entire Culture & Methods Trends Report discussion as a podcast with a supporting transcript.

To help navigate current and future trends at InfoQ and our QCon international software development conferences, we make use of the "crossing the chasm" mental model for technology success pioneered by Geoffrey Moore in his book of the same name. We try to identify ideas that fit what Moore referred to as the early market, where "the customer base is made up of technology enthusiasts and visionaries who are looking to get ahead of either an opportunity or a looming problem."

As we have done for the 2023, 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, and 2017 Culture and Methods trend reports, we present the topic graph for 2024:

For context, this was our topic graph for 2023:

One of the most significant changes we have seen in the last year is the recognition in Early Adopters of the climate impact of technology and among the Innovators moving beyond simply recognizing the impact to actively reducing the climate impact through deliberate architecture choices and making climate footprint a measurable quality characteristic of software products. On the ethics front, a few organizations are becoming much more deliberate in their hiring and outsourcing practices – taking a high-impact approach to inviting people in to create an environment of genuine belonging.  

We’re also seeing Innovator organisations go beyond simple output metrics (such as the DORA metrics) to really measure the impact of developer experience and use those metrics to reduce friction in the development ecosystem.  

The rapid pace of LLM adoption has seen LLMs supporting development jump into the Early Majority.

Teams and Teamwork

An important trend is the reliance on staff engineers to coordinate communication between teams and manage dependencies, a role that extends beyond their traditional responsibilities and preferences. This shift towards expecting staff engineers to act as enablers rather than direct contributors raises questions about the optimal balance between technical and coordination tasks in their roles.

Something to be aware of is the effect of remote work on team cohesion and innovation. The transition to working from home has introduced a flexibility and individualization paradox, where the benefits of flexibility and lack of commute are counterbalanced by the isolation it brings, leading to weaker team bonds and reduced loyalty to companies. This could lead to a decrease in innovation, as the spontaneous, ad-hoc conversations that often spark new ideas occur less frequently in remote settings. Ways to avoid the downsides include being more intentional in creating opportunities for interaction and collaboration across remote teams, which can mitigate some of these challenges. There is a need for structured yet creative approaches to foster team dynamics and innovation remotely.

Friction in the developer experience remains a significant challenge, with some positive signs coming from the Innovator community, where there are metrics that explore the lived experience of the developers in the organization and highlight practical improvements that can be taken, often at very low cost.

Diversity remains a challenge

There is still an ongoing challenge of achieving diversity within software development teams, inclusivity and belonging still need to be the norm in our industry.An organization produces a design that reflects the organization's biases. (That's analogous to Conway's law), which in turn can lead to a natural inclination towards homogeneity within teams. This lack of diversity is not always intentional but results from a tendency to surround ourselves with similar individuals. Continuous attention and effort are required to enhance diversity, as it does not automatically sustain itself even with an established network. There was a misconception that focusing on diversity for a few years would lead to a self-sustaining, diverse environment, which has proven false. Instead, there is a need for persistent efforts to promote diversity.

Diversity alone is not enough, we need to create a culture of inclusion and belonging within teams. Diversity without inclusion is likely to fail. Leaders and team members need to create an environment where diverse team members feel safe and included, allowing them to contribute their unique perspectives and ideas. This inclusion not only benefits the team dynamics but also enhances the developer experience, encouraging innovation and learning. One of the advantages of remote work is the ability to create more inclusive environments for introverted individuals and those with personal circumstances that make traditional office work challenging. There are broader benefits of diversity in software development, such as improved product development and increased productivity, through bringing in various perspectives that result in products catering to a wider audience.

Addressing the climate impact of software engineering

Software engineering has a significant impact on sustainability and climate change. The software industry needs to consider its environmental footprint. The Agile Sustainability Initiative by the Agile Alliance, aimed at raising awareness and responsibility towards sustainability within the software development community is an example of passionate people taking a stand and trying to make a difference. The initiative encourages the use of agile practices to enhance sustainability, showcasing examples like supporting NGOs in climate sectors and utilizing agile methodologies to improve their operations. This approach not only aids in environmental sustainability but also addresses social sustainability by promoting diversity, inclusion, and privacy.
It's time to start treating the carbon footprint as a quality attribute in software development; it can be included in the Definition of Done to ensure sustainability is a core aspect of software projects.

Software engineers need to consider the sustainability of their work more deeply. Practical steps like optimising software for energy efficiency, leveraging renewable energy sources for data centers, and being mindful of the environmental impact of the technologies used. Software engineers have a role in combating climate change, advocating for a shift towards more sustainable practices in software development and the broader tech industry.

Programmers are not going to be replaced by AI

In the evolving landscape of software development and team management, the integration of Large Language Models (LLMs) and artificial intelligence (AI) tools is reshaping how teams operate, collaborate, and innovate. The rapid proliferation of AI companies underscores the transformative potential of these technologies. However, this shift brings to the forefront a critical debate on the impact of AI on the workforce, particularly in programming and project management roles. The assertion that AI tools could elevate skilled programmers to greatness while rendering less proficient ones obsolete raises questions about the industry's future of learning and skill development.

Advancements in AI technology promise more sophisticated and reliable tools. This evolution is seen as an opportunity to refine AI applications, making them more relevant and effective for specific domains. Advances in AI tools can be likened to the development of Integrated Development Environments (IDEs). AI can become another tool in the professional toolkit, enhancing rather than diminishing the need for human expertise and creativity.

The integration of AI and LLMs into software development and team management presents a complex landscape of opportunities and challenges. It’s important to take a balanced approach that leverages the strengths of AI to enhance human creativity and expertise, while also addressing the ethical and practical challenges posed by these technologies. As the field continues to evolve, the ongoing dialogue will be crucial in shaping the future of software engineering.


We have explored multiple aspects of software development and team dynamics in the context of 2024's trends. We covered the challenges and opportunities presented by remote work, the evolving role of staff engineers, the importance of metrics in identifying team friction, and the necessity for intentional collaboration strategies. We see trends in the impact of AI tools on programming, the significance of developer experience (DevEx), and the critical need for diversity and inclusion within teams.

We highlight the urgency of considering sustainability in software development, suggesting practices like monitoring carbon footprints and responsive design to reduce electronic waste.

Our 2024 trends emphasise the need for continuous innovation, inclusivity, and environmental consciousness in the ever-evolving landscape of software engineering.

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