Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The end of passion

I'm supposed to be doing my US tax return right now, but I got distracted (what a surprise) and read this post from March 2009 by James Shore. At the end of the post James says two things that resonated strongly with me:

"If the point is to Be Agile, there's no need for Agile to actually work."


"Starting now, I'm reorienting my business to focus on people who want to be great."

Last night I said goodbye to me colleagues at Cogent Consulting, and one of the things that I meant to say but forgot was that for me interesting agile consulting work in Melbourne is now rare. I would have struggled to say why until I read James' post - I think it's that once-upon-a-time my consulting work was mostly with people who really wanted to be great, regardless of their current performance. It might not have been everyone in an organisation, but in each organisation it was enough people that greatness was the dominant theme. At some point those gigs dwindled - on the new gigs some people may have wanted to be great, but the team/division/company as a whole wasn't really interested. They pay lip-service to greatness, but it's the "we want to be great so long as we don't need to change too much of what we do" variety. My drive is to help people be great, and as that work has withered so has my passion. I may be willing to do work I'm passionate about for peanuts, but I think there's a thread in my mind which says if you can't give me work I'm passionate about then show me the money (and I think that makes me, well, human).

Now my soon-to-be-colleagues in Goldman Sachs may read this and shake their heads, so I need to be clear. I've always felt that enough of the people at GS wanted to be great to make working there worthwhile. It would be naive to think that it's everyone, everyday, but in my experience it's definitely enough. So I hope to have the pleasure of having my passion rekindle there as well.

I think this reinforces Cogent's recent decision on medium-term focus as well. The future of Cogent Consulting isn't to help other people with their agile transitions. The future is to blend Cogent's passion for software development with the needs of people who are passionate about their own domain, outside of software development. The result will be delivering excellent solutions that change people's lives - sometimes because no one else could do it economically, sometimes because no one else could build the partnerships that Cogent could build, and sometimes because no one else could do it at all.

Helping people transition to agile development - 10 years

Forming my own consulting company - 2.5 years

Finding outlets for my passion - a lifetime

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