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Playing Coaches

So what is factor10? Consultants is of course a word that springs to mind. Unfortunately, in the swedish language we don’t have (or at least don’t use) two separate words for consulting and contracting. This makes the swedish market a bit strange for us compared to other countries. In Sweden, everyone in IT that do their work for someone who is not their employer is called a consultant. It doesn’t matter if what they actually do looks just like what would be called contracting in other countries; everyone are still called consultants.

The problem factor10 then gets is that if we use the word consultant to describe what we do, most people in Sweden will misunderstand what we do and what we provide. This is not a misunderstanding that we’ve encountered in our engagements outside Sweden, but we do get a fair bit of confusion within Sweden.

This poses an interesting question. If we can’t use the word consultant without having Swedes misunderstanding what we do - which word shall we use?

Mentors? It works somewhat well and describes part of what we do. But the word mentor does not explain that we also do hands-on stuff. It sounds a bit like we’re only waving our hands and giving advice, and misses the important fact that we actually do development work ourselves too.

Coaches? It works reasonably well too, but it comes with more or less the same problems as the word mentor.

Software Psychologists? If athletes have athletic psychologists, maybe both software and software teams needs theirs? Maybe not a perfect analogy (not that many of them are). And athletic psychologists often either lacks skills in the sport themselves or have retired from it, which for physical reasons has to happen in the world of sports. Luckily, we are knowledge workers.

None of these words indicates that we really do software development with our own bare brains and hands, as well as helping other software developers and organizations improve.

Playing coaches

The best analogy we’ve found so far is one that Jimmy came up with a while ago - Playing Coaches. Close to everyone seems to understand intuitively what we mean and I think it is a good description. It reflects that we coach others to grow and become better at performing software development; it reflects that we are team workers and work within the teams and - the final piece of the puzzle - it reflects that we have our hands, brains and noses in the code.

Why do we bother to get involved in all these aspects? Because everything matters, and we just happen to love and respect the whole spectrum of software development. Even though it takes a lot of time to absorb and be involved in the new thinking on all these fronts, we definitely intend to stay on top of all these aspects in the future as well.