Internet Architect by day, environmentalist by night: Jim Schwartz @ imason.
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Over the years, India has evolved from being a cheap-labour offshore destination in the late 90's to becoming a premier full-range IT services destination in the 21st century. The primary reason for this trend is the highly educated and English-speaking workforce in India, as well as their hard work ethic and enormous population.
In the early 2000's, India had achieved some great accomplishments in the area of software quality; 75% of the world's CMM Level 5 software centres were in India (At the time, CMM Level 5 was known as one of the highest levels in standards of quality).
Offshoring has not been without difficulties. Many projects that I've personally been an observer of have not lived up to expectations, mainly as a result of miscommunications or lack of sufficient business requirements. I can imagine how difficult it would be to get clarification on business requirements with the time zone differences and the long distance. Technology consulting companies have enough difficulties as it is even when having the luxury of a nearby client.
But alas, the point of this article was not to delve into the pros and cons of offshoring, but to point out how India's services have evolved over the years.
Just today, the Pittsburgh Pirates have signed two 20-year old Indian baseball players who have never played baseball. Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel took part in a pitching competition reality TV show in India sponsored by a California sports management company, who awarded Singh $100,000 and Patel $2,500 for winning the contest.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are hoping to teach these young men how to play baseball in the minor leagues in the hopes they could become Major League pitchers in 3-4 years. Being cricket players, they weren’t accustomed to wearing a baseball glove, so they had to be taught not to catch the ball with their bare hands.
In our world of globalization companies both inside IT and outside IT are scouting the global pool of talent to find the best and the brightest people. The Pittsburgh Pirate recruitment from India is symbolic of the direction business is headed in our ever-shrinking world, and countries like China and India will become more than just offshore destinations, they will open the door to many new possibilities previously untouched.
A bunch of us at imason are taking part in Movember to raise awareness and raise money for Prostate Cancer. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Movember, the idea is that you grow a moustache during the month of November to raise awareness for men's health. I don’t want to say that we’re “embarrassing” ourselves to raise money, because that could be perceived as a shot against people who normally wear a moustache.
There is nothing wrong with having a moustache, but for those of us who don’t normally wear a moustache, it is a bit embarrassing (but fun at the same time).
It’s interesting to me how everyone looks completely different when they grow a moustache. My co-worker Boyan looks like Freddie Mercury, Rez looks like a scary hitman, Shahzad looks like a Venice Taxi Paddler and Steve looks like a Medieval Viking.
I wasn’t sure what I would look like until I trimmed up today. Due to my inept ability to grow hair on my face combined with my “overtrimming”, I unfortunately ended up looking a bit like Adolf Hitler. I have one more week remaining to let it “thicken out” a bit. Hopefully by the end of the month I’ll look more like Tom Selleck.
At imason, we generally enjoy conversations about a wide variety of topics, whether it be at the water cooler, on an e-mail alias, over lunch, or conversations at our desks. Our Co-CEO, Scott Howlett even hosted some lunch election roundtables where we discussed the issues of the Canadian election, dissected each party's stance on the issues, and heard each other's opinion on whether their platforms would be effective. They were very stimulating conversations.
As readers of my Urban Country blog know, I'm very passionate about Politics and the Environment, so it was a treat for me to have in depth discussions about these things at work where we generally don't engage in these sort of topics.
One topic that has come up a few times over the last few weeks is the conversation about divisive politics. In the United States political system, there is a lot of "us vs. them" or "you're with us or you're against us" or "Republicans vs. Democrats" or "Red States vs. Blue States" or "Capitalist vs. Communist", and the list goes on.
A more recent conversation led to the question of "Agile" vs. "Not Agile" when it comes to project methodologies. At imason, we have our own project methodology, and we try to employ components of other methodologies where we think it will help to improve our process. The way we see it, Agile isn't binary. A methodology can become more agile or less agile simply by tweaking the approach.
I had a great opportunity this spring/summer to work with some very talented developers from ThoughtWorks out in Calgary. They were on the more "Extreme" side of Agile software methodologies (Literally, they use the Extreme Programming (XP) approach developed by Kent Beck). Like any software development methodology, Extreme programming has its advantages and disadvantages. The purpose of this article isn't to delve into such an analysis, but to point out some of the neat aspects of their methodologies that I've taken with me back to Toronto.
First of all, I'm a huge advocate of automated builds and continuous integration. I've been pushing this on all of the projects I've worked on and NAnt has helped us achieve great things in the world of automated deployment. Secondly I am a big fan of the disciplined approach to project management (Mostly from the Scrum methodology), including set daily standup meetings, timeboxing, story cards and story boards.
But perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Agile approach that I've taken away is incorporating "fun" into your project discipline. Some examples include bringing in a box of doughnuts if you break the build, doing pushups if you're late for a meeting, or hanging a rubber chicken around your neck.
At imason, we work hard to dramatically impact our customers and ourselves, and if you can have fun while you're working hard, that's the most important way to achieve success. To me, success isn't measured by what kind of car you drive or how big your house is; it's about spending your day with people you enjoy being around, and doing work that gives you satisfaction. It's about waking up in the morning and not dreading going into work.