Good bye credativ

As you might know 7 years ago I joined a company called credativ. credativ was and is a German IT company specialized in Open Source support around Debian solutions.

And it was a great opportunity for me: having no business/enterprise experience whatsoever there was much to learn for me. Dealing with various enterprise and public customers, learning and executing project management, support sales as a technician/pre-sales and so on. Without credativ I wouldn’t be who I am today. So thanks, credativ, for 7 wonderful years!

However, everything must come to an end: over the recent time I realized that it’s time for me to try something different: to see what else I am capable of, to explore new and different opportunities for me and also to dive into more aspects of the ever growing open source ecosystem.

And thus I decided to look out for a new job. My future still is with Linux, and might not be that surprising for some readers – but more about that in another post.

Today, I’d just like to say thanks to credativ. Good bye, and all the best for the future! =)

SoCraMOB July 2013

Simple Workflow diagramLast Saturday software developers and IT enthusiasts met in Münster to take part in the Software Craftmanship community day “SoCraMOB”. The event was organized as Open Space and provided a great and encouraging platform for everyone who took part.

The SoCraMOB Open Space – hashtag #MOBenSpace – takes place roughly every second month and aims at people from the area around Münster, Osnabrück and Bielefeld. It has usually around 20-40 people and focuses on discussing modern and agile software development in these days, independent of the programming language. The background organization behind it is the German Softwerkskammer, an initiative to bring together software developers.

SocramobStarter

For me as a project manager it was a great opportunity to meet people from “the other side”, listen to their thoughts, exchange ideas and getting an idea of the current brand new technologies and strategies for software development. One of the sessions for example was about the possibility to add gamification to business software to reward users for example with badges when they accomplish dull tasks earlier than necessary. During the discussion I realized the potential of the attempt, but it also spiked my curiosity in how far I can introduce gamification into my daily project manager life.

SocramobGamification

Another session dealt with Event Centric Modelling and the difficulties to talk to a customer. For this session the host invited a real-world customer: a person with no IT background whatsoever, who nevertheless needed a web platform. The task for the software developers was to gather all needed information from the customer in roughly 15 minutes. Since the customer was a non-IT person, the developers for example had to avoid technical phrases or details.

What sounds like an almost trivial task showed painfully the difficulties of talking to a non-technical customer: the developers tended to talk to discuss with themselves, they almost forgot about the customer. Additionally, they constantly assumed answers instead of really asking the customer, they kept circling around minor technical issues, and so on. In the end the host even had to intervene to bring the developers back on track.

While I know these kind of problems from my daily work I would not have expected them to be so urgent. So the lesson did teach everyone a lesson – but that was exactly what it was for =) Additionally, to me the session did prove how important it is to first of all have a strong moderator for such discussions, and to have people who are able to speak to customers in a language the customer can actually understand – for example a project manager 😉

Overall I can say that the SoCraMOB was worth the visit, even as a non-developer, and I hope to be able to make it next time as well. As far as I got it from the retrospective and the feedback of the others, it was a great event for them as well, and it tends to be that full of energy every time, so I can only recommend the event to anyone living in that area to attend that meeting once in a while!
SocramobResults

Also, thanks OV software for sponsoring the event with space and the typical developers food =)
SocramobPizza

Ask people for their best project

Simple Workflow diagram
While reading through a project management book I came across a very simple, but also very efficient trick regarding changing people’s behavior for the better: asking them what their best project was.

I was reading “How to Change the World” from Jurgen Appelo when I came across an interesting story how to get people to tell their best practices. Appelo himself their mentions a discussion with a Scrum coach who tells him to ask people for their best project, to let them tell stories how everything went, what was good, and so on.

First of all, I like the idea because it puts the people in story telling mode. In such a mode they do not try to fit their experiences in any pre-structured form and they don’t have a pressure to fulfill any expectations, a problem that can come up if they have to answer questions. Second, they just tell their own experiences from their own point of view – and together with it, as Appelo outlines, their best practices. That way you can get a pretty good idea of how the people think, what they expect and what actually works for them. In other words, this way you will learn about working practices and approaches they experienced themselves.

The next step is naturally: if you are entering a running project, or planning a new one, ask them what has to change in the project so that it becomes as successful as the one they have just told you about. It is a very simple, but also pretty efficient step towards more modern and flexible project management, which is very, very important in IT projects.