Professional Service Firms and Twitter

No, really, those are two different things.

Yesterday I read this article on solving the IT turnover crisis. The basic idea is to look at how professional service frims like Earnst&Young do their hiring and staffing.

I’ve worked with quite a few people who spent time at that type of firm. Basically, everyone is running around, working very hard, collecting lots of billable hours, trying to make partner. A few people make partner, but many more decide it isn’t worth it after a few years and bail out.

At those firms it is expected that less than half of your peers will be here in five years. For that matter, having a big accounting firm on your resume is considered very valuable; so you can travel and work for a big firm when you are young, as a consultant, then settle down into a corporate job once you have more responsibilities. (Mortgage, Family, and so on.)

Offhand, I can only think of a couple of software houses that work this way – thoughtworks and objectmentor. Thoughtworks in particular has produced people like Jason Huggins (Co-Creator of Sellenium, now at Google), Steve Freeman (Co-Creator of Mock Objects, now independent) Simon Stewart (Author of Web Driver, now at Google), and Chris McMahon (Inventor of testing heuristic “Don’t test for blocking conditions”, now at Socialtext).

Thoughtworks even has an alumni blog. “Look at what the smart people who used to work for us are doing now!”

Overall, to me, the model makes sense – work really hard for us for a few years, build a reputation for yourself, then either go into the world and succeed, or, if you can bring in clients and don’t mind traveling, stick around and do very well.

I’ve long believed that companies that say “Document in case you get hit by a bus” really mean “document in case you get hit by a better job offer.”

It sounds like Thoughtworks is at least one company in our field that manages that way.

I wonder what the world would be like if we saw a lot more of that?

Secondly, about twitter. I just joined twitter, the lightest-weight-est blogging format on the planet. Posts are limited to 200 characters in length and are generally one sentence long. You can see my profile here. Yay!

2 comments on “Professional Service Firms and Twitter

  1. Glad to see your on Twitter! I’ve followed you, but one correction — you’ve only got 140 characters not 200!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *