Young developers are less risk averse. Taking risks is essential to discovering new concepts that could be a difference maker.
It isnt that older developers cant also exhibit these traits, but my experience is that once you have worked with a technology for a long time, it is hard not to end up with a form of tunnel vision where every problem you tackle is framed in the technology that youre so used to using.
Now before I start receiving hate mail from you older developers, let me state that, yes, it is true there are many gray-hairs (or very-few-hairs like me) that live and breathe technology and are just as up to date on the latest trends.
And lets not forget that learning the business side of technology takes time. This is where the more experienced developer really shines especially those who have worked in one industry for a very long time.
Theyve become experts in finance, manufacturing, etc. and therefore have a much easier time helping end-users come up with workable solutions learned through hands-on experience.
The key for any manager is that you must evaluate each person individually you certainly cant discriminate by age. Just keep an eye out for traits that may be inherent in new developers and develop over time in old developers.
Its your job to help guide both of them to help them realize their shortcomings and help them become even better developers in the long run.
I have found its always best to have a nice balance of experience on a development team. Different generations of developers can learn from each other.
If you are a new developer with great ideas, dont be afraid to share them. But do so keeping an open mind that you dont know what you dont know because you havent experienced it yet.
For older developers with great experience, dont be immediately dismissive or threatened by new ideas proposed from your younger counterparts. They may broaden your vision. And you may actually find that the fresh-based developer really does know what they re talking about.
Eric Spiegel is CEO and co-founder of XTS, which provides software for planning, managing and auditing Citrix and other virtualization platforms.