Being a youDevise Developer – Week 1

In my previous post, I gave the background to me spending the next month or two as a developer on a youDevise product.

I’ve just completed my first ‘official’ week working with them. It was one of, if not, the smoothest of inductions I’ve ever experienced. I arrived and was shown a desk to work at. There was a welcome letter in front of a dual screen developer machine with Ubuntu installed. The letter told me everything I needed to get logged in, access e-mail and wiki links telling me where to find the rest of the information I needed to configure the machine. For the project I was about to work on.

Their CEO sent out an introduction e-mail telling everyone about me and others who started that day on the development team and in other non-technical departments. I also experienced a warm welcome from the team and was assigned a youDevise mentor to help me settle in.
My first few days involved several presentations – mostly demonstrative – introducing me to youDevise products and their business model. Yet I still got to work on code almost immediately.

I was very lucky to get to pair with their summer intern, Marius Cobzarenco, on a part of an all-new reporting capability for one of their products. I am so impressed with Marius. He left Cambridge University only three weeks ago and I have to say he is one of the most competent graduates that I’ve ever met! He has a level of technical competence that rivals many much more experienced developers and he has a passion and aptitude for learning that is rare. He became competent in Behaviour Driven Development after working with me for only an hour or two and fell in love with the approach. I was so impressed with him that I decided to sponsor his attendance at a TDD workshop this weekend with Jason Gorman.

Marius is a reflection of the high standards youDevise sets for itself. Whenever I’m there, I never feel like the smartest person in the room.

Speaking of smart people, other youDevisers I’ve also had the opportunity to work with include Joe Schmetzer and Stephen Siard.

Joe is a great guy – extraordinarily capable yet incredibly humble. Joe really knows his stuff! I’m looking forward to sharing with him, but mostly, learning from him. Stephen – who I have secretly, in my mind, nicknamed ‘the professor’ simply because his intellect is especially humbling for me – is another who I have been very lucky to work with. He has a way with algorithms that is tantamount to wizardry – but he is far too scientific to be called “the wizard” 🙂

These guys stand alongside other similarly impressive and diverse individuals that I’ll mention in future posts – each with their unique talents.

Next week, we start a new iteration. I’ll be seeing what it’s like working with some of their legacy code. Based on what I’ve seen so far, at least I know they recognise where they have legacy and that they are passionate about writing tests and cleaning the code up as they go.

Being a youDevise Developer – Introduction

youDevise has been one of my clients for a couple of years, introduced to me by Steve Freeman. You can see my influence in various places – I got them started with Root Cause Analysis (which they took and evolved an entire process around it) and they took the ideas I shared in JNarrate and implemented them in their own Narrative framework.

Their CTO has been one of the most vocal advocates of RiverGlide, the company I created with Andy Palmer last year.

youDevise are enjoying a period of growth – driven by demand for their services. They have been hiring developers and testers but are struggling to keep up with demand due to their high-standards – they value quality over quantity. About 6 weeks ago they had retained my services for 2 days a month for some coaching and consulting. We got talking about the challenges of finding the right talent for their organisation. Then, it occurred to them, perhaps I could help so they asked me if I would consider working for them as a developer, in-between the coaching and consulting days.

This was a great opportunity for both of us. During our relationship so far, I’d only seen things from the outside. My visits were never more than 1-2 days at a time and involved working with several people looking at slices of problems they wanted to solve or goals they wanted to achieve. I only ever had anecdotal information – never first hand experience of working in their environment. First-hand experience will give me insights that will contribute significantly to the value I can deliver when coaching their teams.

For me, it meant I would get to work as a team member on a real project. I like to do a tour of duty working on a commercial project for real at least 3 out of every 12-18 months. It keeps my skills sharpened and keeps the advice I give as a consultant honest.

So, here we are. For the next month or two I’ll be working 4 days per week for youDevise as a consultant-developer, 2 days a month as a coach/consultant leaving me a couple of days a month to spend with other clients and on other projects.