Wednesday, 26 June 2013

The Lateral's guide to the ThoughtWorks Way

Since the time I started blogging I wanted to do a piece on my ThoughtWorks journey but had to put those thoughts to rest once I read Pat Kua's piece. (It's a tough act to follow). So I thought I'll try to put something with a slightly different twist.

I came to ThoughtWorks (TW) after spending 5 years with the likes of the Satyam's and Wipro's and with the strong belief that all IT companies are the same and there is absolutely no hope to find a satisfactory work environment.

I have been with TW for almost 3 years and it took the best part of that time to get acquainted and finally inducted into the culture and I am LOVING IT. 

The thoughts shared below are from my perspective and though these could apply to laterals or freshers my experiences may resound more with the former. 

  1. Be ready to be challenged - If you come from one of the typical IT companies you might be used to sharing your thoughts with developers or testers and getting an acceptance with minimal or no questions asked. That's not what you'll get here and be prepared to be challenged about your suggestions and decisions whether you are an MD, Delivery Manager, Customer or any other role. 
  2. Be ready to stand up for what you think is right - If you believe that you have the right opinion then don't be afraid to share it (even if it opposes your tech lead/manger) but be ready to back it up with some relevant points because I would hate to take you back to point no. 1.
  3. Be ready to share your thoughts, expertise and experience - We believe that knowledge grows through effective sharing so be prepared to be urged and nudged to share your experiences on a project or in life within or outside the company
  4. Be ready to be heard - The thing I love most about ThoughtWorks is the freedom I have to express my thoughts and opinions without fear of rebuke or reprimand. The only caveat to this would be to ensure that these thoughts/opinions don't offend any community or individual.
  5. Get involved or get out - This may sound harsh but there comes a time when you will need to shed your baggage and take a really deep dive into the culture. If you don't, then eventually you'll get fed up and leave.
  6. Be ready to own and drive - If you are passionate about something and are willing to back it up with hard work and commitment then you will get all the possible support from TWers including the management. There are many examples of this within TW, the STEP program definitely comes to mind.
  7. Be ready to innovate - There is always a different and in many cases better way of carrying out tasks and you need to keep yourself abreast with the latest and continously think about questioning the status quo.
  8. Be ready to Introspect and accept - Following the principles of continuous improvement at TW we try to look back at our performances and think about the things that went well and those that didn't so that we can identify the areas to work on and improve ourselves.
  9. Be patient - You've probably spent many years learning the wrong way and it will take some time before you truly adapt to the 'ThoughtWorks Way', so be patient.
  10. Be ready to think beyond the pay check - This is probably the hardest one to get around and many TWers find this a hard pill to swallow. However, the logic is simple, we want people who are really passionate about what they do or want to achieve and money is not the only thing that gets their motor running. In the end we all work for money but if that's the ONLY thing that motivates you then this may not be the place you'll hang around for too long. 

  11. Be ready to start at the bottom - It would be really hard for a lateral hire to take a senior or management role and expect to get immersed in the TW way without getting an opportunity to work closely with one (or multiple) of the project teams and experience the madness first hand. Don't let go of this experience since its probably the only way to quicken the learning curve.
  12. Fortune 500's are overrated - We work with the more known brands in the world, but are always more than willing to solve the real life problems for the lesser fortunate. The learnings (via innovative thinking) and experience that you would derive from building a solution that helps children from war ravaged territories reunite with their guardians is immense.
  13. Be ready to put on weight - In between all the team outings, ice cream meter redemptions and an over stuffed pantry its literally impossible to avoid putting on a few (too many) pounds.
    The team outings (apart from the food and fun) are the best way to build lasting bonds with your team, so don't miss out. This also seems like the appropriate time for me to market my blog about weight management. :-P
  14. We are not laid back - A couple of people looking to join TW have told me that they believe TW is a "laid back" company. Yes, we don't take life as seriously as a lot of people do and that's just because we're a happier bunch but by no means are we laid back. And if that's the impressions that you are going to carry then you are in for a big surprise.
  15. We all did the best with the knowledge, expertise and time - We speak our minds and share our thoughts but we always keep the following principle in mind.
    "Regardless of what we discover, we understand and truly believe that everyone did the best job they could, given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resources available, and the situation at hand."


  1. Good one , Jagbir. Very well written.

  2. A Good Write-Up.
    I So very miss TW.

  3. thanks for sharing,, all companies need to work with this culture.. really good to know that such companies do exist

  4. a good read..cheers