Coding Horror

programming and human factors

Changing Your Organization (for Peons)

James Shore's nineteen-week change diary is fascinating reading:

Warcraft Peon It was 2002. The .com bust was in full slump and work was hard to find. I had started my own small business as an independent consultant at the worst possible time: the end of 2000, right as the bubble popped. I had some noteworthy successes doing what I loved: coaching agile Extreme Programming (XP) teams in doing great work for a valuable purpose. And then the work dried up.

Eventually I admitted that I was going to have to find some "real" work to fill the gap. I took a contract job as a programmer on a team customizing some web software for a large institutional customer. This team was the opposite of agile. I was bored and frustrated. It didn't take me long to remember Martin Fowler's advice. As a peon, could I make the kinds of changes I made as a (damned good!) XP coach? Or would they kick me out, causing me to change organizations a little more abruptly?

James' story is an interesting one because he was attempting to effect organizational change with no formal power. He was, after all, merely a developer on the project. It's a bittersweet story of success and failure, but it does show that one developer can make a difference.

Written by Jeff Atwood

Indoor enthusiast. Co-founder of Stack Overflow and Discourse. Disclaimer: I have no idea what I'm talking about. Find me here: