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Chris Kelly

We run our business the way the we develop software: we practice “small-a agile,” meaning that we follow the core agile values and iterate on features as our needs change and grow.

As we’ve gone from two developers to 20, things have gotten a little more complicated. A traditional company might have started off by hiring a full C-level suite, but we’ve taken the approach of planning positions with very specific roles, sometimes even making up titles as we’ve gone along. Some of these jobs are pretty familiar, like “marketing manager,” but there are some more unusual ones like “developerer” (more on that in a later post) and my role: “methodologist.”

So what does a methodologist do?

Officially, a methodologist is someone who studies and practices methodology, which is usually a guideline system for solving some kind of problem. Since that doesn’t actually tell you anything at all, here’s a look at what I do day to day to improve processes at Highgroove:

  • One-on-one meetings: I sit down with each developer weekly to talk about how his or her projects are going. These talks take only 5-20 minutes, but we are able to look at development progress, the developer’s communication with clients and their usage of internal tools. We also identify what resources the developer might need in order to make clients happy.

  • Things That Suck: In the one on ones, I ask everyone to tell me about something that sucks at Highgroove. The answers can range from a shortage of double-shot espresso cups to a feeling that Highgrooves’s current direction doesn’t reflect our core values. After talking to everyone, CBQ and I go through the list, turning every response into something actionable. We buy more espresso cups, resolve issues and identify next steps to keep developers happy.

  • Project kick-offs: I help get new projects off to a good start by getting developers and clients on the same page and ready to build awesome things. Sometimes we talk about project tracking tools or specifics, but only enough to identify and eliminate any barriers to a successful project.

In addition, I also translate company goals to actionable projects, iterate on our new-hire boot camp and identify ways to improve sharing of information among the team.

Oh, and I get to come up with and execute fun things like getting Fitbits for Highgroovers and arranging an office-wide trip to the beach this week.

Making jobs to fit the company

When we have meetings, CBQ and I sometimes realize that we need to hire another person to join our team, and sometimes we create a new role that’s never existed before. As I said earlier, we don’t try to make Highgroove fit into traditional ideas of job roles; we plan what we need to accomplish, and then we find the person who can best help us reach those goals.

When I started at Highgroove, I was building Ruby on Rails applications, but I now help run the business as we grow. Instead of focusing on code quality and test coverage, I’m focusing on keeping our clients and developers happier than they could be anywhere else. I’m not a developer, a scrummaster, a manager or a director of engineering; I’m our methodologist, and I’m here to help!

Do you make up jobs at your company? Could yours use someone like a methodologist?

Image credit: Leo Reynolds


Chris Kelly

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