I was catching up on my RSS feeds today when I stumbled upon this video. If, like me, you push through the initial skepticism, you’ll probably walk away rather impressed and/or inspired.
These guys managed to turn consultancy on its head. They are doing work they are passionate about without any compromises.
Here’s their philosophy in a nutshell, taken directly from the slides:
- no contracts
- no fixed prices
- no functional specs
- no employees
- no code ownership
- engage real users
- don’t conform
Intrigued? Go watch it, I’ll wait. :)
That was a great presentation. However, no matter how much they believe in what they say, they only hold a part of a bigger truth. At this point, I would recommend you read Zed Shaw’s The C2I2 Hypothesis. This essay describe the axes of user involvement (C2) and complexity (I2) inherent to all software projects.
What the unspace guys are talking about is 1 of the 4 quadrants of software development: collaborators-inventions. They find customers who want to be 100% involved in the process. And they work on projects where what needs to be done is unclear—something new that will evolve during the lifetime of the project.
This is wonderful. This is where most passionate developers would want to be. They are, in effect, hitting the niche of people who give a shit.
Too many times, I’ve seen projects where the customers were seen as enemies. They didn’t really want to have a software system, it was a necessary evil imposed on them for very good reasons. These are the worst possible people to work with.
This reminds me of Paul Graham pre-Viaweb bsuiness, Artix. Trying to convince art gallery owners to put their collection on the Web. These people had no interest in technology . Viaweb was the opposite approach, trying to make websites for people who -wanted- to be on the Web. In the end, it’s not really about what you do, it’s more about your audience.
Swimming with the current is always easier than swimming against it.