RESOURCES

Growing an Open, Participative, Horizontal and Based-on-Trust Company

About this Publication

10Pines is an Argentine Software company that was founded with the Agile values in mind. It is an open, participative, self organized without hierarchies and based on trust company. In this experience report, I'll show you the reasons and personal experiences that led us to create a company based on those values, some problems we encountered and how we solved them. I’ll explain the benefits of this kind of company and of course, the challenges we are facing. As "trailer" I would like to mention that at this point in my professional life, I can not conceive of any other type of organization where I could work, there is no turning back after being part of a company of this kind.

1. INTRODUCTION

Working is not always enjoyable or satisfying and it gets really bad when it comes down to software development. Not only the technology we use is disappointing most of the time, but dealing with time pressure, irrational customers or not so “humane” employers makes our challenging job even more difficult to swallow. This leads people to inevitably look for better places to work, to a constant turnover that finally jeopardizes software quality.

How can we avoid this situation? How can we provide our programmers a place to stay for a long time, a place where they would feel happy, where they do good work because they really feel they have to and not because they are forced to? One easy answer might be to pay them as much as they want, but we all know that money is not everything in life and there is not a limit to the amount of money one would like to make.

There are at least three sources of conflict: 1) Technical 2) Project related (customers, time, etc.) and 3) Employment related. In this experience report, I'm going to explain how we attacked mainly the third item, with some minor mentions about how we addressed the first two.

In my 25 years of experience working for the software industry, I have worked as a junior programmer to currently, company owner, I have had many other responsibilities like technical architect, project leader, professor and software development manager. Today, even though I own a company with my partners, I still can do what I like: program and teach, mainly I believe, due to the way we “defined” our company, 10Pines.

From the beginning, we decided to create a company for the people to be happy and really care about the company, a company where people would love to work, a company where we would not have to look after the people to make them work, a place where people would feel they were part of.

We found out that to be able to have such a place, major changes would have to be made to the way we understood companies, how we organized them, how we ran them. A major change to the “status quo” was needed. That is why we decided to create an open company, self organized, one that is without hierarchies, is participative and is based on trust. We decided to take a new approach based on our knowledge of the “agile values”, which is a revolution by itself in the way software is developed, our good and bad previous experiences working for other companies and our knowledge of some “radical” companies (like Semco of Ricardo Semler in Brazil [Semler]).

10Pines is six and a half years old at the time this report is written (January 2016), composed of 35 people (all but two technical people that also take care of business responsibilities. Of the other two, one is the secretary and the other the one is in charge of cleaning the office). We do agile software development, training and coaching. Most of our projects are time & materials (per iteration or per hour, depending on the client) with some of them fixed price (even though we manage in those projects to move hours from one project to another if necessary, so it is fixed price to the outside, but kind of time & materials on the inside).

I can not claim that we are the perfect company, that we have no problems, but I can tell you we have almost no turn over, we feel proud of the quality of the software we build and, mainly, I feel we are all happy working together.

2. BITS OF HISTORY

When my partners and I got together to create 10Pines, we had a history of good and bad experiences working in the software industry. We wanted to create a company where those bad experiences would not happen. We realized those bad experiences were rooted in bad human relationships, mainly lack of respect from the employee to the employer and vice-versa, a vicious circle that once started is impossible to stop.

Personally, the bad experiences that made a mark on me and in retrospect, make me reflect about the employee-employer relationship range from employees that lied to or robbed their employers (without any kind of remorse and even justifying their behavior), employers that exploited their employees (for example making them work an inhumane number of hours and not paying for that effort and of course, without any kind of remorse and even justifying their behavior) and people that work with an inertia that was only overcome when critical errors appeared in production.

As worker, chief and manager I always looked for getting the best out of me and the people that worked with me, but most of the time I encountered a resistance based on human issues instead of technical ones. Therefore the most important objective I looked for when creating 10Pines was to grow a group of people with the best possible human relationships.

As a manager I got tired of “making people work”. I wanted people to work without having the boss  “hitting them with the whip”. I got also tired of what we call “aisle radio” (radio pasillo in Spanish). “Radio pasillo” are those comments people make because they do not know what is going on, because they suspect things, because they do not agree with something but can not say so or do not feel they have the “power” to talk about it, and sometimes just because they have a second agenda. The problem with these comments is that they add noise to the communication, they wear out the relationships and sink confidence creating a vicious circle of misunderstanding.

My partners had similar experiences and shared the same objectives. When we got together to start the company, we had many meetings to talk about these issues, the objectives we wanted to achieve and the values we would shape 10Pines with.

Our entire view of what a company should be was in question for us. We were sure that classic management ideas were not enough, we were sure that nice marketing words were not enough, we were sure something different had to be tried. A major change to the classic-hierarchical type of organization was needed and a major change in the relationship between employee and employers was necessary. We wanted a company where people were treated as equal and have the same possibilities, but keeping the “right” differences and augmenting the “right” similarities at the same time. We decided to create a new type of company.

3. VALUES

Our main goal was to build trusty relationships between the whole group besides the responsibilities each person had. The values we found we needed to pursue to fulfill our goal of our new company model were: 1) Trust 2) Participation 3) Transparency, and 4) Horizontality.

I would be lying to you if I say that we had a clear vision from the beginning. We knew what we wanted as an outcome and more important, we knew what we did not want to happen, but we were not sure how to accomplish our goal nor the values we should hold. Time allowed us to realize what values those were.

Trust

As company owners we need to trust the people that work with us. If we didn't, we would start to put restrictions on what they could do and we would start to fill the company with bureaucratic procedures to ensure that people are “working”. We would have to monitor the entry and exit hours, etc. But how can you trust that people are doing their best if you don't trust their basic actions? How can you hope for the best quality in the products you develop if you don't trust the people that do the work?

At the same time, we needed the people to trust us. We wanted them to trust the leaders when they say that a major effort is necessary. We did not want a company where the “climate” was of constant questioning. Trust had to be both ways. We could not ask people to trust us if we did not trust them. Asking for trust, but never trusting others is a dead end.

We also wanted creative people, with the ability and freedom to try new things without the boss telling them to do so. We wanted people who take initiative. We wanted empowered people and the classic-hierarchical kind of company organization does not work when looking for that.

We realized that trust is what pushes people to do their best, helps to avoid misunderstandings and creates a collaborative climate.

Participation

We wanted a company where everybody could have the right to participate in whatever he or she felt could add value, to try new ideas, and to have the freedom to innovate. We did not want a company where the owners “forced” people to work, to do things right, where creativity and initiative were absent. On the contrary, we wanted “empowered” people with the right to take decisions, to influence in the environment they work in, the projects they do, and the time they have.

Full participation is crucial to successfully having a “flat” structure as we seek. In the same way we prefer “full stack developers” to develop software, we want “full stack people[1]” in our company. Full stack developers have a holistic view of the system and, therefore, can take better decisions and understand the consequences of changes they make. They feel the system is theirs, and when an error pops up it is easier for them to fix it because they participated on the whole thing. It is similar with “full stack people”. Because they are empowered, they have a holistic view of the company, they really care about the future of the entire group and not only about themselves.

Transparency

Transparency of decisions and actions is crucial to build trust and, consequently, participation. Transparency should be at all levels, not only on technical or project related decisions, but also, and more important, on the tactical and strategic ones.

Transparency, for example, about the company financial numbers helps to build trust about the salaries everybody makes, avoids unnecessary competition, and improves team building and collaboration.

Real, full transparency is a key value to our company. It avoids communication errors and misunderstandings.

Horizontality

Hierarchical organizations are not the only way to structure a company but, sadly, the most widely used for different reasons. Some of them are historical, some due to misconceptions or pessimistic analysis of human behavior and some due to the characteristics of the work.

A military organization needs a hierarchical organization because orders can not be questioned, orders must be followed, and little or no reasoning and creativity is needed nor permitted at certain levels of the hierarchy (mostly the lowest ones).

Some people believe that humans are basically selfish, that they only look after themselves and, therefore, under that belief that a company should not trust anybody and an important control must be implemented to ensure and force the employees to work as expected.

A software company’s success rests, mainly, on their people's creativity. Software development is among other characteristics, a creative activity, a thinking activity. We need our people to think freely, to look for the best solutions,  and to feel empowered to follow through on their thoughts.

We also believe that bad human behavior is rare. Besides some exceptional cases, humans tend to do the right thing when the environment is appropriate. We need to create the right environment to get the right behavior. People do not avoid responsibilities, not in the right environment, not with the right group.

We must believe in people and trust them to do the right thing, not doing so makes things much more complicated, harder, bureaucratic and freezes us from exploiting our best capacities.

At the same time, it is important to realize that we are not all equal; we do not have the same knowledge nor the same experience or expertise. But in the end we are all humans.

We seek for a horizontal company structure in order to augment creativity, to empower people, to be really productive and to be able to manage our work that takes up most of our life. And as I said before, we know there are differences and we recognize them. We are not proposing a “communist company” not even a “romantic socialist” one, but not a company where money and status are everything, either.

It is important to notice that, currently most software companies seek the same results as we do. Creativity and productivity are important to success, most notably in startups where demand for professionals exceeds available people and, therefore, keeping people is important, which leads to special plans like vacation policies, stock options, etc. But let me be a little bit arrogant and ask how many of those companies do these things because they feel it is important to do so from a human point of view or simply do it because the market forces them to? How many do so because it is part of the company's essence or because it is an accident of the present circumstances? For us, our values are the essence of our company, they are not accidental, guided by the circumstances of the market.

[1] Note that I do not use the word employee or resource when talking about the people that work in the company. That reflects an important cultural change even in the way we talk and therefore in the way we think. Even more, the word “human resource” for us is a bad word. We usually use the word “pine” (as in pine tree) to talk about us no matter what role.

4. THE MODEL AT WORK

Based on these four values, we slowly shaped the 10Pines culture. We defined processes, rules, actions, and the like, that follow and support them. I will describe some of them; the ones I think are more meaningful, for our company's culture and that are strongly based on these values. I'll try to explain how they impact our culture, and how they differ from classic companies. I'll provide some true stories to illustrate how they work in practice.

Working hours – Working environment (Value: Trust)

At 10Pines, people can work at any time, anywhere, and the amount of hours they feel is necessary. Salary is based on the hours a person works. We suggest people work during daytime from 9 or 10 AM up to the hour they feel they are done with their duties, and no more than 8 hours.

We charge our customers by the hours people spend working on their projects. We pay the people based on the total hours they work. If they work more hours they get more money. Some companies call those hours “extra hours” (some of them do not even pay for them). For us, they are the hours you deserve to get paid because they are part of the work you do.

This flexibility allows people to work as they need to, as they feel they can be more productive at work, or to spend family time (or any other enjoyable time) when they need to without asking for time away from work. Of course, there is a responsibility to the project and customer the person is working for. Personal freedom cannot harm the project nor the relationship with the customer.

The same is true with the working environment. People can work at the office, from home, coffee shops or wherever they feel is best. At the office no desks are assigned and there are no special rooms. We just try to sit close to the people working on the same project.

We know that sharing time with the project team and other members of the company is very important, that is why we suggest to come in at least each Friday to the office. Those that do it will share a nice lunch time eating pizza and drinking beer paid by all of us (that is, the company), and in the afternoon we have what we call the “No customers Fridays” where people can spend their time doing a project they like, researching about whatever topic they want, or sharing knowledge with other people. And of course, those hours are paid.

What are the common fears of “classic” companies related to these policies? It is often said that if you do not force people to work following a specific schedule that they would do less work, they would not work all the hours they should and in the end, they would not be responsible. Our experience is just the opposite. Because people have the freedom to choose when and where to work, they use that freedom with more responsibility. There are people that go to the office everyday and they follow a strict schedule even though we do not force them to. But the freedom they have to use their time as they need, to feel that work is not the driving force of their time, results in an incredible commitment to the company.

Other fears are that people will lie on their time sheet, or they would put more hours than really worked. That does not happen at 10Pines either. There are people that should work 160 hours per month that report 150 or 140 and, of course, some times more than 160, but it is not common to see consistent hours every month.

Let me tell you a story related to this behavior. The girlfriend of one of the guys who works at 10Pines has kidney problems. She received a kidney transplant and that medical intervention required a long post-surgery time at the hospital. Due to the flexibility of working time and place, this guy could work from the hospital and be with his loved one all the time. His work quality was as great as ever and even more! He was really grateful for being able to spend all that time with her, and we were really happy he could do it, too. That feeling has no price.

This behavior is based on Trust. Without trust in both directions it would be impossible for this to have happened.

Open Numbers (Value: Transparency)

10Pines is an open numbers company. Everybody that becomes “root” (more about this below) knows the company financial numbers. That is, how much we charge our clients per working hour or project, how much money is in the bank, how much money the company makes due to investments, how much money we spend on food, salaries (more on this also below), parties, etc.

Numbers transparency is very important in building trust. It is impossible for people to trust that you are doing the right investments, that the company is doing right, and that it makes sense to continue working on a project, if numbers are not known.

Sharing the numbers is a powerful act and, contrary to what most people would think, that if people know the company's numbers a bloody revolution would happen, given the right culture when people know the numbers, it makes them more responsible.

We are proud to see the same people putting quotas on the money we spend, deciding together if it makes sense or not to move to another office based on the cost and the value we would get for doing it, on the kind of machines we should buy, etc.

Without Trust, open numbers could be a double-edge sword. Open numbers is based on trust and at the same time reinforces it, promoting transparency.

Open Salary (Values: Trust, Participation, Transparency)

Salary is often that hidden secret nobody wants to talk about. It is one of the major sources of conflicts and for some Machiavellian managers, a weapon used to control people.

If you think about it, the only reason not to know the salary of your co-workers or bosses is because there is something to hide. Usually it is because there is something that it is not fair that would make you react in a way not wanted by the company.

At 10Pines salaries are open and decided by all the people. Every four months, a group of people sits together to analyze other co-workers’ performance and decide if they deserve a raise or not. The group is not always the same, it usually changes from meeting to meeting and it is not composed only of “senior” people. Everybody is invited to participate and to propose changes.

Again, as opposed to what everybody would think, that everyone would ask for a raise all the time, or that a group of people would join together to promote raises for themselves, or that on every meeting raises would be given to everybody, responsibility rules. Our salary meetings are guided by self-control and consciousness.

An interesting story I recall is when one of the guys refused a raised because he did not feel he was working good enough, that he was not spending all the energy and time he thought he should and could. Even though we explained to him that we thought he deserved it, that even though he was having a difficult personal time and that we valued his work and effort, he refused the raise. We ended up not giving it to him. In no other company I have ever worked for I have I seen such behavior that demonstrates such love for the company and the co-workers that would make someone refuse personal gratification and recognition.

Roots (Values: Trust, Participation, Transparency, Horizontality)

After the first few months working at 10Pines (usually from 3 to 6 months) and demonstrating the core values we look for in everyone (responsibility, openness, technical knowledge, etc.), people become what we call “Root”.

When a person becomes root, it means he can participate in all the strategic and tactical meetings, know the company financial numbers and any other kind of information.

Becoming a root is the first step in this virtuous circle we want everybody to participate in. It is the way we tell people, “We trust in you,” but also at the same time, “Now you have to assume the responsibilities that come with this trust.”

When at “roots” (the group formed by root people), participation in all aspects is expected. We do not force people to do things or to give their opinion on different issues, because not everybody is “mature enough” to do so. What  usually happens is that people wait a couple of months or more (until they feel comfortable) to start giving their opinion on different issues and participating in different actions.

There was a time when we discussed creating two levels of root, one with young people or those who have just entered the group, and the other one with more experienced people. There were many back and forth discussions about this idea. Because we could not agree on what to do, time passed and finally showed us that it was not necessary to create two levels. This is because people do not want to be embarrassed in front of others (for example, talking about things they do not know) and also because when in a group where responsibility and seriousness prevails, humbleness becomes a trait. It was funny to realize that even as we proclaimed trust as one of our core values, not all the time did we understand when we were not trusting.

Profit Share (Value: Participation)

If there is something that closes the “circle of trust” it is Profit Share. Semler says in his book, “Companies socialize loses and capitalize profits.” We wanted a company where loses and profits were socialized.

Profit Share makes everybody in the company aware of how much money is spent and earned. Profit Share makes everybody really care about the company's numbers and therefore, participation in strategic decision is assured. It is interesting to see everybody aware of the ROI of each project we do and contribute to the ideas about projects we would like to do. Clearly, everybody wants to get a big bonus at the end of the year.

As with the other processes, how much money is shared and the roots decide what percentage goes to everybody.

As with some of our other behaviors, people usually think that this is crazy. But for us, it is part of the trust and participation needed to create a company where everybody is really involved. The bonus is not a fixed number of monthly payments that is decided mysteriously, but it is tied to the company's performance and it is completely open.

An interesting story about how profit sharing affects the strategic decisions we make and the money we spend is the following: The company pays for a health care plan for everybody. At the beginning, that plan was the same no matter the age, marriage status, etc. Over time, people who were older or where married or who had special needs proposed to pay for a better plan, one more suitable for their needs. After looking at how that would impact on the company's profit, the group was divided into those that wanted a change and those that did not want a change. Paying for a better plan for everybody would have a big impact on the company's numbers and not everybody needed that better health care plan. There are a lot of young people working at 10Pines (from 21 to 30) that do not really need that coverage and paying for that would be a waste of money. We decided we should pay a better plan for those that needed it and to keep the current one for those that did not need it. But how could we decide who got what plan? There were many ideas that people expressed: people older than 30 should receive a better plan, women that wanted to get pregnant also, but there were also people that needed it because they wanted to have a special surgery done or medical treatment. But having to expose all these conditions was not really appropriate. We were stuck about what to do until somebody suddenly proposed to let people that needed the new plan to just ask for it without giving any explanation. The argument was that we are a company based on trust; if we do not trust ourselves when somebody is at need then our values were not well rooted. It was an interesting argument. Again it showed us that it was not easy to understand and act in this new paradigm of the company we were creating. We decided to go for it, to try this idea.

What do you think that happened? That everybody asked for the new more expensive health care plan? That everybody acted selfishly? Again, reality surprised us. A few people asked for the new plan and all the rest decided to refuse it because they did not need it. It was incredible, a big lesson for everybody and a demonstration that we were on the right track.

“Roca x Pino” (Roca per Pine. Values: Trust, Participation)

This is the last example I would like to talk about to show how trust and participation are so important in an open company.

Roca is a national hero and his portrait is on Argentina’s one hundred pesos bill. A “Roca per Pine” means “a hundred pesos bill per person at 10Pines.”

The “Roca x Pino” program gives opportunities for each person to spend one hundred pesos per month on the company. A “Roca” has a lifespan of three months and people can pool “Rocas” to buy more expensive stuff. “Rocas” should be used to buy stuff that is not bought by normal means (computers, chairs, etc., that are part of the “normal” budget).

The idea of the program is for the people to buy what they feel they need at the office and not for a “human resources” team to theorize about what others want.

It is really interesting to see the synergy that this program generates. People join forces to buy something they like such as Nespressos capsules, cups with nice logos, a breadmaker and even filters to make tea! This is an example of an action that does not cost much to the company in terms of money but really boosts people's morale and happiness. This is a concrete example where we are saying, “we trust in you, use this money as you want.” This is a concrete example of empowering people.

These are some of the actions we do at 10Pines to promote trust, to help participation, and to build an open company. All of them are important on their own way; all of them are part of solving the puzzle of how to create a different type of company.

Of course there are many more things we do, like strategic monthly meetings, the recruiting process, the apprentice program we have for young and new people who join the company and, of course, the after hour meetings just to have fun, among others.

5. PROBLEMS & OPEN QUESTIONS

We have problems, too. I would not be honest if I do not say that we have our issues. But to tell you the truth, those issues are nothing compared with the ones I suffered in other companies. Let me mention some of them.

Decisions

Decisions that are important are taken quickly but decisions that are related to topics that people are not interested in take too much time or are never taken. For example, our office is not fancy, it is functional for what we do but it is not attractive to bring customers in to. Many times we wanted to make it nicer but doing so is not a high priority task and therefore the office stays untidy.

We have learned to accept this fact. In retrospect it helps us understand what people really care about, where to put more attention when thinking about what the people want.

Communication

Sometimes we feel we do not communicate well or we do not communicate all we should.

Sometimes we need to remind people how working in other type of companies would be and explain those whose first job is with 10Pines, those that do not know how working in other contexts would be, not to forget the benefits we have and not to lose contact with the prevailing reality of our industry.

We are starting to understand that we put the bar high and therefore “demands” start from there. We have started to work with an external consultant to help us to better communicate our essence.

Scaling

One of the recurring questions we get when talking about our company is how we are going to scale. What is the limit to the number of people we can be as a company and keep working this way? And of course, the common belief is that we are not going to be able to scale.

We have thought a lot about this. My first answer is that we cannot base how our type of company is going to behave on how classical companies behave. We are creating something new (at least from our point of view), so problems in other company paradigms cannot be compared to our company. Self-organizing companies like ours do not follow the principles and rules of hierarchical ones. So we will not “over design” and we will follow a “bottom up” approach. If the problem of scaling happens, we will see how to fix it. In the meantime, we will continue doing business as usual (usual for us).

Senior rewards

Another issue we are starting to have is related to senior people salary/rewarding. We have concentrated so much in the past six years on new people, on the youngest ones, that we lost focus of the needs of more experienced ones or on the ones with more responsibilities. We are starting to address this problem with different actions. One of them is to create a path for seniors to become partners, to really own part of the company. Other ideas range from giving seniors special benefits or more money depending on the company performance (not all agree with this idea).

Limits of the model

Is our company model applicable to any kind of company? This is difficult to answer. We cannot claim that it will work on environments where creativity is not important, such as supermarkets or public transportation. Those companies cannot have a “home office” program or allow people to start working the hours they feel is better for them. They have to follow tight schedules; they cannot innovate on the daily work, and must follow already defined rules (or at least that is what they say).

But even if these programs or actions can not be used at those companies, it does not mean that those companies too can not be open, based on trust and be more participative. It is interesting to speculate how people would behave with more responsibility and participation in other types of companies.

6. MEASUREMENTS

How can we be sure that our company model works? There is no formal demonstration of it, only some measurements and signs that help us see that it works.

Turnover

Over the six years of our company’s life only five people left the company. Most of them due to personal reasons and all of them on good terms with the company. Five people in six years is a small turnover for any software development company. We believe this is due to the values the company has.

Profit

And yes, we are making money. Profits were between 15% in our worst year up to 30% in the best one. We have no debts and people are making good money.

Customer trust

Another important measure that shows we are on the right track is that we have not lost a single customer. To the contrary, customers that started with us six years ago keep working with us and asking us to do even more work. This is only possible because the same values we practice inside the company we practice with our customers. Trust and participation are crucial in software development projects. We make our customers participate at different moments of the projects (like demos, story mappings, etc.) and we do not hide any concern from them. And we also go and sit and talk with end users to really understand what they need.

New customers

Another sign that our customers are happy with us is that they refer us to new customers. We do not have a “sales department,” we do not make campaigns or things like that to get new customers. All the customers we have are based on other customers’ references or through connections we make when participating at conferences and talks.

High quality

One of the things that amazed me the most is that we do not have projects that require people to work extra hours, to work on the weekends, or to run around like crazy to meet a deadline. All that ill behavior is not common at 10Pines.

We also do not have bugs that jeopardize our relationship with customers or that make a project fail.

Is that because we promote technical quality? Is that because we have internal meetings about technical topics? Is it because we try to apply the good agile techniques such as TDD, continuous refactoring, etc.? For sure these practices help, no doubt about it. But I think that it is not really the main reason for our success. In one of the companies I worked for, we also applied these techniques, but errors were common and quality was not as good as expected. I think the real reason for this is human related and our company’s values.

7. WHAT WE LEARNED

Growing a company of this kind is a constant learning process. We learned that to avoid misconceptions and inappropriate ideas from other paradigms, that to challenge the status quo, you have to try things that look crazy. You also have to have courage to try those ideas out and be humble enough to recognize your mistakes.

As with agile development, it is better to try new ideas and fail fast than to stay in an analysis paralysis state. Communication flows really fast in this type of company, therefore changes are easy to adopt.

We learned that people do not avoid responsibility when given the opportunity and that an open culture based on trust and participation is possible. Also, that a flat structure company is doable and profitable.

I believe that for a company like ours to be successful, leaders must truly believe in the values we have at 10Pines. Seeking only results as an end in itself is not enough because sharing the ownership of a company is not easy, sharing the money you could make with the people working at the company is not easy, selfishness can jeopardize a company of this kind.

We see people at 10Pines assuming responsibilities that in other companies would have to be enforced, we see people create and try new ideas and technologies, who want to really add value to our customers and that are not afraid of proposing changes and taking action to make those changes real.

We believe we are making a change in how companies are understood and managed; I hope you do too.

8. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Even though I wrote this experience report, the accomplishment of everything I mentioned would have not be possible without the ideas, courage and wisdom of Jorge Silva, Emilio Gutter and Alejandra Alfonso, my partners and co-founders of 10Pines. They made this dream possible; they made the seed grow.

I would also like to thank all the people that work at 10Pines that are making this dream come true. Their responsibility, their participation, their belief in 10Pines's values are the support we all need to make this happen.

I really appreciate the ideas and corrections from everybody that read the report, specially Ingrid Astiz (who told me many times to write something like this), Cristian Boccia and my beloved wife Monica, who helped me with my poor English.

Finally, I really appreciate the opportunity and encouragement that Rebecca Wirfs-Brock gave me. She was the one that saw an opportunity for an experience report after a talk we had about 10Pines and she did not rest until I wrote it. Thank you Rebecca.

About the Author

Hernan Wilkinson is a co-founder at 10Pines, a Latin American IT consultancy specialized in creating custom solutions with cutting edge technology. Located in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the company also offers coaching and training services.