A journeyman’s travel

by sebsonconferences

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Some ups and downs brought me into the situation that I am actually without a job or contract and I have  some spare time at hand that I am going to spend with a journeyman’s travel or so called waltz.

The journeyman years refer to the tradition of setting out on travel for several years after completing apprenticeship as a craftsman. The tradition dates back to medieval times and is still alive in German-speaking countries. In the British Isles the tradition is lost and only the title journeyman itself remains as a reminder of the custom of young men traveling throughout the country. (wikipedia)

Exactly one and a half years ago, I started to move away from development/team-lead oriented way of work to a more coaching oriented style to interact with teams and people on all things agile and creating effective groups working on software. All in all I get very encouraging feedback: The ratings on joind.in for workshops have become better and better, direct feedback was very encouraging and even when things did not work out very well job-wise, the coaching part of my job always got good ratings.

But I am not there yet

Compared to the people that kind of kicked my butt to look deeper into all this I am still missing some experience and some skills that can only be generated by more hands on and real life work. The following quote from famous bike racer LeMond illustrates a little more precisely what I am pointing out to.

Perhaps the single most important element in mastering the techniques and tactics of racing is experience. But once you have the fundamentals, acquiring the experience is a matter of time.
Greg LeMond

Adding to it I am looking for a good place to work over the next years. It’s less the search for a six figure pay check, but rather a mission to find a place that can deliver me a lot time in flow state and positive experiences.  Therefore I find the idea of a journeyman time very appealing. Going to places, for a short time not considering the paycheck in any way and seeking places where my knowledge can become handy.

Don’t get me wrong, but I find some hiring processes very tedious: Except from what is written on paper, none of the two parties knows who or what is sitting there. All the working conditions can be described  by words, you can have a walk around the company, shake some hands and have a recruiter filter out the “bad apples” for you. In the end all this is not a good replacement for real work done with real people, you just know the  real deal when real work is done. This will lead to a much deeper understanding of the personalities and values involved.

All this results from a lifestyle that is imposed on us mostly for the cost of living and our wishes that seem to be mostly triggered by desire based marketing (in opposition to our needs). I can not remove the first limitation but I can disobey the second one easily for a little time in order to create some freedom for my adventure and value for my journeyman’s destinations.

What I will bring to the table

  • I know how to coach and train a lot of agile styles and variants
    • XP /Extreme Programming
    • Scrum
    • Agile in the context of product development
  • I can help to improve teamwork
    • Retrospectives – How do they work and what do you need for them
      • Large and small scale
    • Group dynamics and processes
      • Setup a good environment for teams to strive for great results in diverse setups
  • 5 dysfunctions of a team
    • Caveats of teamwork
  • Basics of Non-Violent communication (from a violent communicators point of view)
    • Improve interpersonal communication at work
  • Pair Programming and Team based development
    • How does pairing work
    • Organize brown bag sessions
    • Coding Dojo’s and Kata’s
  • Creating and improving workshops
    • I do the “training from back of the room” technique religiously
    • I can do with sticky notes what others can not do with slides

This is a decent extract of my coaching skills. Other things like development knowhow, especially in the area of LAMP and the node.js Eco-System come as a free addition, but are not really in my focus to “teach”. However that know-how might become handy.

What I am looking for

I have come to the conclusion that an exact expectation of what I want to do will only hinder people offering me interesting things. So the above and especially this section is a guideline but not really a collection of must-be properties. Please keep in mind that the whole thing should be cost neutral for me.

  • 2-4 days work on your site
  • Coaching and working with a team on one of the above topics (or something else interesting)
  • I eat three times a day
  • I drink water and sometimes beer
  • Shelter
    • A hotelroom or even a sofa in case will do
  • Travel expenses covered
  • Seeing interesting places as a side-effect
    • culture
    • arts
    • music

You can check out my Amazon Wish-list to see what I am in need for. This is purely optional but bear in mind that I will not write an invoice for my work and some of these things are very important tools for further journeyman adventures.

I am going to add a flattr button for this adventure to the blog. Anyone can klick it and donate a little on my adventures. All excess finances will go into further stays and I think there are some NGO’s or groups that can not afford travel and stay, these are the people who will be receiving some services in exchange for travel and stay provided by you. All this will be made transparent to the audience of this blog via the new section “journeyman”.

The bottom line

All in all this boils down to this: I have very specific professional skills that I would like to keep in shape, to improve or to simply use. In exchange for offering this knowhow I will get all the required things for living. As a big bonus I will get to see a lot of different realities and workplaces in real life, exchange opinions with other professionals in my field and gain further experiences. Don’t get the “free” thing wrong: There are some costs involved, after all I have to eat and sleep. But I will not write a invoice for the work and not take a day rate, a thing that I surely already could. I think of this as a “Practice Random Kindness & Senseless Act of Beauty”, in my opinion we too often take all the “rules” of the “market” for granted and that leads to loosing focus for the important things in life. This is an experiment of disobedience to a society that puts a price on everything and thereby diminishes the core of most endeavours to a pure financial thing. There is the risk of being broke at the end of this journey but in my own humble opinion, this is one of the smaller risks life brings on.

All private questions mail to: sebs (at) 2xs.org please