Time for a change

I’ve been in the IT industry for about 20 years now, and for nearly the last 8 years I’ve been a consultant with the rather excellent ThoughtWorks. Being anywhere for that long in our industry is quite uncommon, and to spend that long in a consulting role, with all the travel and disruption that implies, is even moreso. I’ve had a fantastic time with ThoughtWorks and I feel I’ve grown tremendously during the time I was there. Eventually something had to give though, so at the end of last year I decided it was time to try something else.

In particular I found I had moved away from the things I really enjoyed – writing software that matters and building high-performing software teams – more towards big organisational change, which, while it arguably has a bigger impact on an organisation, isn’t really where I wanted to be. So my criteria for what to do next came down to: writing business-critical software in a small, high-performing team, in an organisation that trusts its people and encourages them to excel. Having a great relationship with the consumers of that software and having them closely engaged with its delivery would be a huge plus.

Luckily for me such organisations do exist. One of them is a proprietary trading firm (basically a bunch of partners trading their own money) called DRW Trading, and it works a bit like this: The partners want to trade, so they have traders. In order to trade well the traders need to work with good financial models, so they have analysts who build those models. In order to trade effectively with these models they need good software, so they have programmers who build the software. That’s about it. The software development value stream is something like:

- I’ve had an idea for something that will make money. – Ok, here’s some software. – Thanks.

The procurement process seems equally onerous:

- I need a Thing. – You should get it then.

So there you have it. I’m taking a break from consulting, at least for a while, in order to rediscover good old-fashioned software delivery. I’m going to be doing a lot less on the conference circuit, although I don’t intend to vanish altogether, and hopefully I’ll be blogging and writing more now I’m doing less travelling and feeling less exhausted all the time.

Obviously I no longer have a ThoughtWorks email address, but you can contact me at dan@dannorth.net or I’m occasionally on Twitter as @tastapod. We now return you to your regular scheduled programme.

12 comments

  1. Hi Dan,

    Congratulations on the new job and realizing (and getting back to) what you really want to do, that is priceless. And if you ever the traveling; then you are more than welcome to visit us in Bergen ;)

    -Mark

    1. Thanks Mark. I really like Bergen and I definitely intend to come back to Norway. It’s unlikely to happen this year but please don’t stop inviting me :)

  2. Hi Dan,

    Congrats and good luck with your new job! I expect you’ll still turn up at QCon, so see you there. And as for Mark’s invite to Bergen, I can nothing but support that :) Our user group has grown and matured a lot since last time, and I promise you’ll get questions from other people than Mark ;)

    Jon

    1. Hi Jon.

      Your instincts are right – I’m hosting a track at QCon this year and doing two talks. It will be my (nearly) last conference for a while – I’m taking some time off the circuit to do proper work :)

  3. Dan,

    Good luck on the “course correction”, but having been one person highly entertained by your Conference presentations I can tell you, you will be sadly missed and the conferences will now have much less humor in them.

    John

    1. Hi John.

      Thanks for your kind words! I’ll still be around from time to time, and hopefully I’ll do a better job of publicising it on my blog when I am.

  4. Good luck Dan!
    I am sorry to hear that your conference schedule is going to shrink. I, as many others, really enjoy your talks and the special way in which you do them. However, I can really sympathise with you wanting to go back to what is fun. That is truly the question for all of us: what do we REALLY enjoy doing? What do we REALLY want to do?

    If you do attend some conferences, I would really recommend Sweden as the venue. No particular reason… :)

    1. You don’t have to recommend Sweden – it’s one of my favourite places. I keep meeting lovely Swedes (with the notable exception of Ola Bini, of course, who’s just bonkers ;)

  5. Hi Dan,
    I first heard about your departure from Thoughtworks at the SAW in January. I was surprised, to say the least.
    You are a smart dude, so I’m sure you’ll do well in this new venture :D

    Coincidentally, I left my company too, so things are going to be very different for me too.

    It is really a pity that you’ll do less conferences though.
    There is always something new and interesting in your presentations.
    In any case, I hope to see you sometime soon.
    Take care!

  6. What technologies are you using?

    1. I guess the best answer is whatever works! Right now it’s a mix of Java, Scala, Clojure and all manner of tools and technologies, but it’s liable to change at a moment’s notice.

      The common theme is focusing on technologies that help us deliver, which is a refreshing change from the usual “enterprise architecture” politics.

  7. Hi Dan!

    I met you last year at JAOO in your TDD tutorial with Erik. I just moved to Melbourne with my husband this fortnight and figured I should finally take up your suggestion of applying for a job with Thoughtworks. So I looked you up on the world wide internets to say hello, and look, you’ve left! :) Hehehe, I hope you’re having a great time in your new role. 8 years in any IT role is a long time. The new one sounds refreshing.

    All the best, I hope you are well,

    Petra

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