Sunday, January 04, 2009

Not consulting any more. Or am I?

As I've hinted in some earlier blog-posts, I have now moved to Bonn, Germany, and as of last Monday, I'm working as a developer for IP Labs.

This means I won't be a consultant anymore, as I have been for the last 2,5 years. I am now a "fast ansatt", or steady employee. It's a bit interesting to ask myself:
  • Does this mean my rocketeer knowledge increasing career has come to an end?
  • Will I go to work with a much more relaxed attitude, getting used to stable work environments and fewer changes?
  • Will I spend less time overall doing stuff related to my profession?

I hope the answer is to all three question a ringing 'no!'. I really enjoyed being a consultant because it allowed me to do stuff I'm really good at. I'm not a super-programmer, in fact I know lots of programmers who are better than me (well, even more that are worse than me), but I hope I still will be able to contribute lots to the company by doing what I always do: pushing for more agility and sound practices.

So far in my career, I've worked closely with about 5 different teams, from 1 to 10 in size. My role in these projects have either been enforcing soft values (typical agile stuff, like planning, estimation and practices), enforcing hard values (code style, tool-use), or both. This effort has been spent mostly on the individual level, some on the organizational level, and then some on the community level (although not as much as I would've liked).

At IP Labs, I've found that the individual/hard values are already at quite a high level. They (or we, as I should say) are already well-endowed with pride, professionalism and quality, as well as excellent Java coding skills. There are some practices that can easily be introduced to make things a little better, but things are working, and the developers are delivering lots of functionality with steady velocity.

Also on the organizational level, they are focused on developer-satisfaction as well as customer-satisfaction. Already from day one, you feel that your developer needs are being taken care of, getting free choice of laptop and equipment (I'm now the proud owner of a MacBook, which I so far utterly despise, but hope I will learn to love in time). The infrastructure is very developer oriented, and Windows is frowned upon.

There is no crappy Exchange mail server here that forces everyone to use Outlook: It's simply IMAP - use the client you prefer. They don't use Messenger or SameTime with proprietary protocols, they use Jabber instead. Again - use the client you prefer. All in all, one kick-ass place to work :)

Well, back to the ranting. ..

The luxury of not being a consultant is that my voice can be a little louder. No more tip-toeing around, packaging plans into sweet little convincing ideas and planting them in other people, being sure not to make it sound like you're not selling anything, even if you're not selling anything but common sense.The idea is that if you're a steady employee, you can criticize, argue and be taken seriously without too much beating around the bush, subterfuge and convincing.

Or maybe it really isn't that different. As a consultant, you have to be careful not to be to rash, try not to insult anyone, be fair, objective, honest and overall being very very patient. Shouldn't the same rules apply to all software workers? Just a thought...

I think after all my job won't be that different. Maybe I'll get some more elbow-room, but all in all, consulting is perhaps nothing else than being an understanding, careful and humble colleague.