Where the hell are all the great senior software developers and hands-on engineering directors?

I struggled with this in two vastly different technology businesses scenarios (a) as a hiring manager in a highly funded project in a large enterprise, Verizon and (b) as a founder of an upstart tech services/consulting company, Altamium.

I think you have checked all the right boxes plus more, including your own reputation as a tech innovator and people leader. So, how do you get people that meet all your criteria:

  1. Experienced agile craftspeople.
  2. People that have been XP evangelists.
  3. People that truly understand OO and SOLID principles.
  4. People that are capable of being mentors to less experienced, but eager-to-learn, talent that already works for us

I’ve struggled to find this kind of talent and I’ve watched highly respected peers struggle with same. None of them, including me, where as open or as eloquent about describing this challenge as you are. It’s tempting to think that surely Google or xyz companies have figured it out. In fact, its also tempting to think that if anyone has figured it out, it would be Obie and his great company, 2U. But I believe the reality is that no one has figured out how to build a pipeline for this kind of extraordinary talent.

So, in addition to all your exemplary efforts, I would add a complementary strategy to address the more fundamental objective of “delivering successful technical solutions to meet our company’s or client’s business needs”. This strategy is to focus on the 4th item on your list over the others. Actually, I would suggest a variation of that item.

Instead of:

People that are capable of being mentors to less experienced, but eager-to-learn, talent that already works for us

I suggest:

People that are capable of being mentors and who are themselves eager-to-learn

By focusing on “ability to mentor” and “eagerness to learn” over the other criteria for experience and deep craftsmanship, there’s a wider pool to draw from and, crucially, there’s a clearer/quicker growth path for existing talent to fill the needed roles. Grooming someone who is eager to learn, to be a mentor is a more realistic undertaking than grooming someone to be an experienced agile craftsperson or an XP evangelist.

In conclusion, I’m not suggesting that this approach of hiring or grooming is fast or easy or that it replaces the need for deep craftsmanship. But it is one that I use for sustainable successful technology solutions delivery.