Looking back on six months of a new job

It’s been a while sicne I left my previous employer in order to seek greener pastures, and get in the road towards the consulting business with it-agile GmbH. Since my trial period (we got six months here in Germany) ended on Tuesday, let me take a look back on the past half year.

Now, before starting this gig, I read Weinberg’s The Secrets of Consulting (Dorset House) and the sequel “More Secrects of Consulting – The Consultant’s toolbox”. Of course, I was curious enough to get to know how this consulting thing might turn out. Regarding travel I made some experience early in 2009 and felt prepared for the job.

First, my colleagues are impressive. First things I heard from most colleagues were “nice that you’re with us”. Also, they offer open feedback, sometimes even at times when I would prefer to have it at some later point, maybe. But that’s something I can get used to. Recently they met for a whole day to invest their slack time in. They spent all day working on tiny problems, and collaboarated at it. Unfortunately I was at a client workshop on that day, but it made me curious to work.

Now, my first month started slowly. I attended many conferences – some of which I had planned well before the change, some as part of the change. I attended an expert panel at the CONQUEST 2010 panel in September. In the second month, I attended the first AA-FTT pattern writing workshop, Agile Testing and the WebTechCon. Finally, the XP Days Germany, and EuroSTAR marked the end of 2010 to me. In February I went to Belgium Testing Days and hosted the Testing Dojo sessions there. Whew, lots of travelling, and I think I have to cut down on conferring in the near future.

On training courses, I also attended some of them. I took the ScrumMaster class from one of my colleagues. I also attended a course on domain-driven design by Gojko. I spent a whole week with Kent Beck on Responsive Design and advanced topics in TDD. In early February I attended a Visual Facilitation workshop where I learned how to draw impressive flipchart pictures. In November I also participated in an internal beta run of our Scrum Developer course with five of my colleagues.

Finally, there were regular exchanges between my colleagues. We have an OpenSpace in place every month, where we explore possibilities to become better consultants. The one in February I facilitated myself. Since I had recently read Training from the back of the room, I also combined some ideas of OpenSpace with some of the exercises from the accelerated learning model. Maybe that’s something that I might want to explore in more depth in an upcoming blog entry.

Oh, and of course I did some work as well. As one of the first things in September I was asked to develop an Agile Testing course – hands-on. As part of the preparation, I worked with Robot Framework, several web frameworks, GWT, Java, Ruby, let me summarize all of this with stuff. While we’re at it, I also gave some courses at clients based upon this. Until now I talked about the material four times, and got some good feedback and exercise based upon it that helped to further detail the material. I also gave a presentation on TDD and Clean Code at a client workshop besides several Scrum introductionary courses. Oh, and there is also client work. Helping teams to adopt ATDD, helping teams with their test automation, or just helping teams to get started with their Agile development.

This leads me to the down-sides of the past half year. I cramatically slowed down on reading books. Since September I think I finished mrerely three books, An introduction to General Systems Thinking, Please Understand Me II, and Training from the back of the room. Though I wouldn’t blame travelling for this, but rather the fact that I work more on my laptop in the evening hours in the hotel room. And I also cut down on writing. Since September I haven’t finished an article – not even started one in English. And I feel like I cut down on blog entries, though the numbers might indicate other. Both observations might be distorted by the fact that I started to write a book.

Finally, a word about travelling. I initiialy thought this would be fine with me, but I didn’t have a clue. Travelling is quite stressing me, but it’s still something I think I simply need to get more used to. It’s not a problem, but it’s not relaxing either. After all, I get to see a lot of cities (at night), and try to make room for my mind to wander while taking the walk rather than the taxi or bus at occassions.

All together, I’m excited about the past half year and what might lie in front of me. It’s quite different from what I expected, but that was also expected, of course. :) It’s tough work so far, so if you’re wondering whether or not to get into consulting, think twice about it. But the fun part of it – visiting all these teams, seeing all this different workplaces – far outweighs the perceived stress. So, I’m looking for the next thirty years.

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