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Posted on: Friday, 11 September 2009 by Rajiv Popat

Partners In Crime.

I am at Jack's organization. Jack is showing me around. The vending machine; the cabins and the laptops.

I can sense where this is going.

It is almost like I am looking at an x-ray copy of his brain that shows me what he is thinking.

I can sense it coming --- and then it happens.

The question:

'Hey Pops --- I think you will like it here. Want to work with us?'

I respond with a grin:

'Not now. By the way; we have an interesting office too; you want to work with us?'

It has been five years since we worked together on a project. Three years since we talked and yet; we talk like we had a fight over a design approach; followed by a long discussion about life in the software development world; yesterday.

We find no need to setup new communication channels for small-talk after three years of zero-conversation.

The channels we established years ago are still open.

The only thing both of us can think of when we meet is trying to get the each other on our team. We are actively attracting each other into our own workplace.

The more I observe builders and story tellers across organizations interacting with each other in conferences; code camps; and even seminars; the more I tend to develop a deeper understand of the reasons why builders who have worked together in the past have a tendency to attract each other.

The Reasons

It is clearly not a conscious stream of thought that a builder is particularly aware of; but when a builder makes an attempt to pull another builder into his team; his mind in indulging in fairly complex reasoning. If you have worked with a genuine builder in one of your past projects; you meet him at the grocery and you feel the need to give him a job offer at your current team or your current organization it might be because of one or more of the following reasons:

Builders Look Up To Each Other

This is very different from saying I-respect-someone-because-of-his-ability-to-learn or I-respect-someone-because-he-is-a-friend-of-mine. This is admitting; blatantly and openly that I-respect-someone-because-that-someone-is-better-than-me.

You look up to that someone because he is better than you; and here is the strange part --- that someone looks up to you because he genuinely believes you are  better than him.

As funny as this sounds; I've seen quite a few teams of genuine builders around the world and if there is one thing that binds them it is this level of genuine competence-based-respect for each other.

Builders Look After Each Other

Software development is no different than being on the battle-field and being attacked by enemies from multiple fronts. Genuine builders know the importance of having allies and they also understand the importance of having other capable builders; who can give them cover fire.

I've seen quite a few teams of genuine builders complement each other; get each other out of fire; and being genuine partners in crime.

It is the looking-up-to-each-other that often results in looking after each other.

Builders Look At Each Other

I am f@#ucking up. I want someone with enough courage; spine and lack of respect for mitigated speech to look at me in the eye and tell me that the project is screwed if I don't get my act together.

I do the same for others around me.

Put two builders in a team and you will see difference of opinions; arguments and sometimes even fights. When a genuine builder looks you in the eye and tells you how much your code sucks; you know that in a world where no-one cares about you; he cared enough to look at what you were doing wrong.

It is the looking-after-each-other that often results in looking at each-other.

Look around you; try to think of all the people you have worked with in the past.

How many of them were genuine builders?

How many of them met the three scenarios above when it comes to your professional life?

Chances are; you will be able to think of a selected few individuals; these are your partners in crime.

If they are not working with you; hunt them down and then offer them a job in your team or your organization.

I wish you good luck.

Note: This article is a part of a Work In Progress Book. To Read connected articles read the Builders At Work category of this blog.