As a software developer I’ve never worked on a problem that has sustained my motivation for more than six months. My motivation follows a pattern like this:
- Interest in the domain. Two weeks.
- Inherit fun of problem solving/programming. One month.
- Fear of letting my team down. Three months.
- Fear of losing my job. Six months.
You might think that I’m not cut out for being a developer and for a long time I questioned that too.
The difference between myself and the folks that thrived in those projects is how long we could stay in that second bullet point. As an organization you really don’t want people operating out of the last two bullet points. We work more, accomplish less and become a source of discontent on the team. At the end of the cycle I’d either figured out how to change projects or change jobs. Then the cycle would start again.
Pairing the past almost 6 months at WellMatch has been a hack that’s broken this cycle for me. My motivation now looks like this.
- Inherit fun of learning, teaching and collaborating with my coworkers. Seemingly infinite.
You can have book clubs and planning meetings and all sorts of other things but if learning, teaching and collaborating aren’t baked in how work actually happens someone like myself isn’t going to be able to thrive.
Not everyone can thrive in this kind of environment. I’m going to make some biased and broad generalizations about the kind of person who won’t thrive pairing.
- Introverts for whom collaborating is exhausting. * This is not true for all introverts, myself included.
- People who are overly insecure about their skills.
- People who are overly arrogant about their skills.
- People who lack patience and empathy for others.
Honestly these are people I probably wouldn’t enjoy working with. This is not to say non-pairers can’t do amazing things. From what little I know about Basecamp (formally 37signals) and DHH himself, they embody an arrogance and impatience that have made them very successful. I’m confident though I couldn’t last six months there.
Maybe I’m still in the honeymoon phase but I really can’t imagine going back to writing software alone.