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Circular Wonderings is an exploration of the role of digital, software and technology in the Circular Economy. Exploration is the key word here. I write regularly, reflecting on my current thoughts and research. Expect typos, incomplete thoughts, varied rambling topics and (hopefully) a journey towards clearer understanding and insight. Subscribe here to join my journey.

Software Engineers role in Circular Collaboration

In the last[1] few[2] posts[3] I started to scratch the surface of the importance of deep cross boundary collaboration for successful Circular Economy projects and businesses.

Given that, an interesting question to ask is: how does this affect the software we build? Does it change the role of the software engineer on a circular business or project?

The examples we've looked at clearly show how collaboration can, indeed, must be a cornerstone for Circular Economy success. And that mindset opens exciting opportunities for software engineers.

One of the archetypes of the coder is someone who speaks a different language to "business" people. Or a technical wizard who is difficult to get on with. Or someone who just wants to a chance to work with "cool", bleeding edge technology to demonstrate their prowess. But let's assume that our software engineers are beyond that. (Aside: check out the amazing work of people like April Wensel[4], who is on the front lines of these problems.)

And a common trope of software projects is how often they are late and go over budget. Or don't even deliver what the business or users really needed. But let's assume that our software engineers are doing the right things to tackle those problems.

What I am interested in is a more specific question: What is the difference between great software engineering in general, and great software engineering in the Circular Economy.

The first answer I have is the importance of purpose of the software we build. There is more to this than the need to really understand requirements. A great software engineer will do more than ask "what are the requirements". They'll want to get an understanding of the purpose in order to gain a deeper understanding of the requirements. They'll do that because they want to bring their professional experience and skillset to further improve the impact of the software (or perhaps even find alternative solutions).

When this is applied to the Circular Economy it is incumbent on great software engineers to really understand much more than the the specific project's goals. For example the both Reath[3] and Circularise[2] could be attempting to build software without the extra hard work of collaborating on Open Standards. Yet that doesn't offer as much possibility of paradigm changing contributions to the problems. These Open Standards are deeply technical projects. Software Engineers must have been involved in those projects from concept to reality. Their skillsets are needed for the ongoing collaborative iterations to improve and move the standards towards actual, real world impact. And understanding that real word impact requires a broad understanding of the Circular Economy mindset and the specific problems those businesses are working on.

This is great Software Engineering.