Okay week one is over and what are we thinking at the halfway point. Well I think the abiding impression is that TW lives up to a lot of its hype. The people they recruit are talented, intelligent and, at least in the group I am working with, experienced. Everyone is very enthusiastic and committed to the programme and that really lifts the whole experience. I would not say that I was absolutely fired up about every item on the agenda and therefore it can be really helpful to have someone else kick things off and fuel the fire a bit. I am sure anyone who has been on a corporate training course knows that all these things are not necessarily that common.
Also the course attendees are truly cross-discipline and that is really helping to broaden the perspective of the course. I am not that interested in the sales service (for example) but I am glad that I have had a chance to hear people who are interested in such thing have their questions answered. You should try to avoid staying in your technical ghetto for too long.
TW has a pretty established framework for providing feedback and discussing issues. You do have to invest a little in understanding the rules and it can be hard to resist the rox/sux tendency but I think it pays off. The result is that you tend to give people a reason to try and fix problems and listen to your advice. These rules do actually set TW apart from other IT companies as I am not sure I have seen anything like this elsewhere.
Looking at the more specific circumstances of my course I am very grateful that the course is being held in London. I feel I am meeting a lot more people who will be in the office when I start working from there. It is also great to be able to switch between the course rooms and the office. If you get told to talk to someone you can head over to the office in less than ten minutes and actually talk to them. It also means that people in the office are going to start recognising your face.
The days are also quite long (particularly as you have to tend to prepare more for meetings, feedback and sessions) and therefore I am glad that I am going home for a few hours each day rather than simply drifting back to a hotel. It avoids getting totally fixated on the job. You have to get over yourself and listen to the details of someone else’s day rather than just endlessly dissecting your own.
TW is an organisation that has its own issues and foibles but I did notice that on the last day of the first week a lot of the new starters were starting to talk unconsciously about “we” where they meant TW as an entity. I am not sure I have seen people feel so comfortable with their collective identity at the end of an induction course let alone halfway through and that to me is a testament to there being something “right” with ThoughtWorks. It may be in the recruitment or the training or in the way that ThoughtWorkers are encouraged to think about themselves and the company. I suspect it is probably in all of these.