Monday, January 18, 2010

Why Should You Want To Work For ThoughtWorks?

Note to self: the next time you're watching Roy (Roy Singham, the founder of ThoughtWorks) give his "How I Founded ThoughtWorks" pep talk to a batch of candidates, stand far off to the side and far enough away that he can't read your name tag.

What brings this up?

I spent a couple days in Chicago this past weekend helping out with our Super Saturday hiring event. And I watched Roy give his pep talk too closely and too directly in his line of sight. Because in mid pep talk he looked straight at me and said, "David, you're a ThoughtWorker, what do you want to add? Why should these people want to work for ThoughtWorks?"


I managed to blurt out an impromptu, off-the-cuff, early draft of something like what follows.

Here, after time to think and embellish and re-word and clarify, is the full response I wish I'd given:

Why should you want to work for ThoughtWorks?

If you're like me, you've spent a fair amount of time (over 20 years, in my case) developing software for 'The Man' -- a series of nameless, faceless, soulless corporations. You've worked primarily for managers who fear what they don't understand, and what they don't understand is primarily two things: software development, and you.

At each of the places you've worked, you were led to your cube; isolated, walled off -- but not so much that The Man and his lieutenants can't walk by and easily keep tabs on you. Penned up so that human interaction happens on The Man's terms, not nature's. Guaranteed that every human interaction will require a hard context-switch in interface from keyboard and mouse to whiteboard and mouth.

And you're told 'you're Just a Java Developer'. By which The Man means: don't hassle me with your Ruby, or your Clojure, or your [cool technology here] that you've actually spent some time on your own learning about that could make a difference.

The Man doesn't want you to make a difference. The Man wants you to sit in your cube and write code. It doesn't even have to be working code; at least not at first. The QAs will figure out whether it works in due time. You're Just a Developer. And The Man has a whole raft of inefficient and degrading processes to manage the interactions between the QAs and the Developers.

When you chafe at being Just a Java Developer and you advocate for making a difference -- using force multipliers like Ruby, and Pair Programming, and Test Driven Development -- you're branded a troublemaker. And the guard on your cube doubles. And the degrading processes get more degrading, especially for you.

And then you find out that ThoughtWorks is hiring, and that we need smart people. People who voluntarily spend their free time getting better at what they do, looking for ways to make a difference. People who understand that there is more to software development than Just Java and The Man's inefficient and degrading processes.

And you realize that it's a win-win -- if you work for ThoughtWorks, ThoughtWorks gets another smart person, you get to be that smart person, and The Man fills your pen with a willing sheep and has one less troublemaker to guard.

If you take the plunge and apply, you get a chance to convince us that you can make a difference. And when I say 'us' I mean ThoughtWorkers, people who do what we would be hiring you to do. Not ThoughtWorks HR. Not ThoughtWorks Management. The very same ThoughtWorkers who will be your co-ThoughtWorkers if you're hired. We are not easily convinced. But we are aching to be convinced.

And if you make it through the gauntlet of code samples and assessment tests and ThoughtWorkers, within a couple days of signing the paperwork your butt is in a chair at a client site and you're pairing full-time, ten hours a day, four days a week, writing mission-critical code with people who are smarter than you ever will be.

And here's the coolest part. Not only do you *get* to make a difference (you do). Not only are you *required* to make a difference (you are).

The coolest part is this: you're *expected* to make a difference.

Because you're a ThoughtWorker.

That's why you should want to work for ThoughtWorks.


Anonymous said...

Very nice article!

Vijay Aravamudhan said...

"Just another Java Developer" - hmm where have I heard that before???

jojo said...

thanks for this post! You are the reason I've been at TW for 7+ years...

awksedgreep said...

s/thoughtworks/manheim online/g

Maybe it's because we work so closely with you all, but this is exactly why I like working here.

After two years I'm still recovering from a complete inability to say what needed to be said in the name of progress. Across the street, and working for the same company oddly enough, I was the resident troublemaker.