To everyone who helped me with the search, thank you. Today marks the start of my first regular job in seven years.

In my first job as a software developer, by a string of lucky occurrences, I happened to land someplace doing Extreme Programming. I hadn’t been looking for it; as with all the other ways people make software together, I hadn’t heard of XP and had no basis for comparison. But I remember a feeling of excitement rather larger than that of getting paid to be a programmer (which, to be clear, was not inconsiderable). And I remember that in my early Google searches for the experience reports of other people doing XP, the weblog that most stood out was James Shore’s. The way he was doing it and writing about it helped me learn to do it myself.

In my first job as a software development coach, I began to suspect that I’d need to interpret the Manifesto’s “doing it and helping others do it” to mean something more specific to me: alternating between helping and doing. I worried that after too long being free of responsibility for delivery outcomes I’d stop believing my own advice. I guessed that to refresh my contextual understanding of what helps which people deliver which results under which conditions, I’d periodically need to return to working as a teammate in a team. I supposed that after another round of being accountable to teammates and customers I’d be freshly motivated to share what I’d learned. If this pendulum could keep swinging, I could perhaps sustain a consulting career.

That prediction held true. When my employment with Pillar (an XP consultancy) ended in March 2017 I was about to become a parent, with the expectation that my life was about to change in ways I could not possibly predict. That held true, too. Being an independent mostly-remote consultant proved particularly adaptive for our family life when the pandemic struck. I prioritized client opportunities according to two criteria: their compatibility with our needs at home and their impetus for my career pendulum.

I enjoyed a fantastic mix of clients — the problems they were solving, the aspects they wanted help with, the cultures they brought with them — but in the course of interviewing for this job I realized it’s been more than seven years since I personally lived the day-to-day accumulated complexity of seeing through slow changes to the cultural norms in and around a software team. I suddenly felt a hole in my heart where that feedback wasn’t. As a consultant, every now and then I’d hear (years later) of some case where I helped make a dent. But mostly I’d never know one way or the other. It’s uncomfortable to make an effort with no expectation of finding out what good it did or didn’t do. It’s a very particular kind of uncomfortable, for a devotee of Extreme Programming, to make a habit of it.

So I’m keen to take a break from “just visiting” and move in someplace. I’m eager to confound the pendulum by inhabiting a role that combines responsibility for outcomes with responsibility for techniques. I’m pleased to share that today’s my first day as a Staff Engineer XP Coach at OpenSesame, reporting to none other than Jim Shore. And I’m looking forward — as I’m doing it and helping others do it — to sharing, as always, what I learn.