Ken Beck and Moneymaking

Kent Beck wrote a depressing post on June 9th. This reads as somewhat hard to believe from something like him. Kent is an expert on OO and I am following his works since encountering the C2's wiki (this was in 1997) . He is full of great insights, has a clear mind and there, he complains about not getting money from his work. Even if I do have decent programming skills and know people who are unbelievably good and insanely productive using technology, this is the kind of guy who is light years ahead.  I am pretty unknown when it comes to fame, but when it comes to making money, I can say that it is another story. The target demographic of Kent is developers. He is providing tools like xUnit, it's nice but the value to the decision makers is quite unclear (nothing more than a blip of the corporate radar). In fact, a lot of what I see on the developer's side of things has unclear ROI. Or things are not discussed in that light. And most developers I do come across usually have no interest in ROI, they are interested in bright and shiny technology. So, by targetting people with no decision power when it comes to money, you can for sure bet that the ROI on that will be very low. You will get recognition from the developers. If you thrive on recognition (as most people do), this is good. Kent even has a page on Wikipedia.  But if you want money, in fact, you shouldn't care about recognition, you should care about business results and business outcomes. That's why someone will put money on the table. On a journeyMy suggestions to Kent is that instead of focusing on what he does (creating JUnit Max, or providing Responsive Design insights), he should focus on what he provides as return on investment. Kent, how are your customers better off when they do work with you? And I mean in business terms. It's a bit like when the poster child of XP (C3) got stopped. There may have a been a clue there already. Why would they stop the project when it was providing (as it seems) lots of value to the company? That's where marketing enters. Marketing is not just a term for suits (even if I do appear to wear one on the picture, I am mostly working from my home office, leading offshore projects after having closed deals). It is how you create an understandable and valuable proposition to the market. I am sure that there is a market need where Kent's passion can shine in a way so that clear investments will lead to clear results. In fact, Kent's past should help him shape his client's future in terms of better performance. And that by proposing interventions that will be only his. This would form Kent Beck's value package. Let's face it, "Kent Beck" is a brand now. Just as "Ivar Jacobson" or "Grady Booch" are brands. Peter Coad didn't got rich because he was a truly inspired and powerful modeler in OO. He got rich because he took Togethersoft to great heights and sold the company for millions. But his name may have been one of the unlockers for the investors. I do not know if Scott Ambler is now rich, given the amount of books he wrote and sold, I guess he is by now. And he is now at IBM as a leader in Agile. That's recognition. He is a brand too. Ron Jeffries, yet another brand in the segment. But ask people from the boardroom and very few of them would have even heard these names. And then good luck to get a check signed from them. I do see technology as a great enabler and a lot of talent is going to dreamland, which I find is a shame. I do think that we would all benefit from being more ROI conscious. When delivering strong ROI for clients, what happens? They see the light, they want more. And this provides access to funding. And this means that they trust you. Because you are ethical. Because you deliver. Because they know that they will be ahead of the curve by working with you. It is a bit like Merlin and King Arthur. They do have to work synergistically to achieve. And one is nothing without the other in the legend. We are the little Merlins performing our magic. Let's find some Kings and help them dominate their market. It will form a virtous, positive reinforcing look and everybody wins.