I first came in contact with the Jazz project back in 2005 while I was working as an IT architect in IBM Global Services. A couple of IGS and Rational managers agreed that it would be a good idea if I shared with the Jazz team some of my experiences working on large IT integration projects. So I began spending 25% of my time working with the Jazz product management team.

I felt fortunate for this interaction because I was impressed both with the Jazz strategy and the Jazz team – composed primarily of the folks who created the Eclipse platform. However, I felt like I wasn’t adding as much value as I could have since I didn’t interact much with the development team, who were driving much of the direction.

I spoke with Kurt Bittner of the product management team about my concerns and he told me “You’ve got development experience, why don’t you talk to Scott Rich about joining the development team?”. To me this was a pretty wild idea, since in Global Services I’d worked hard to ‘escape’ the Developer caste in favor of architecture. But Kurt explained that in the Eclipse/Jazz team, everyone, up to the executive level, participated in technical design and even wrote code.

After thinking about this a while, I decided it was a good idea, so I spoke with Scott about working on his Jazz server team. Our talk went well and we both had a good vibe but the outcome was a bit muddy. Because no one on the Jazz development team had seen my technical skills first-hand, and because I hadn’t done active development for more than a year, they wanted to bring me on in a sort of trial period. If I did well, there was an opportunity to join full-time, and if things didn’t go well, no harm done.

At first this was quite surprising, because since I joined IBM, I’d always been a top technical performer and had a very good reputation around Global Services. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this was a very positive sign about the Jazz development culture. My glowing performance reviews weren’t enough – I had to prove and show my capabilities – this team would not risk bringing on dead weight. Now I wanted to join this team even more and worked very hard. So on September 14th 2005, after two months of working on a trial basis, Scott asked me to join the team full-time. This was probably the happiest moment of my IBM career. I even saved the chat:

Scott Rich – hey, still there?

Bill Higgins – yes

Scott Rich – what would you think about joining the Jazz team? 🙂

Bill Higgins – !!!!!!!!!

Bill Higgins – are you serious?!?!?!?!

Scott Rich – yep, you’re in. your final test is to figure out how to apply for JobReq #006282 in the jobs system…