Worthless Beliefs

As a kid, I got to live on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain. I don’t really remember much of this time, as the fall of communism marked my eighth birthday. Surely, I got to participate in awkward ceremonies praising the revolution, something we now usually associate with the weirder of Koreas. I remember glimpses of the corrupt Western world passing through the censorship, with Disney cartoons, Japanese technological advancements in popular science show and, remarkably, Miss Universe pageants. First are now irrelevant, second are possibly rotten at some scrapyard, so let’s focus on the contest. I remember interviews with the finalists, when they were asked about what’s really important to them. “World peace”. “Protection of the environment”. “Ending world hunger”.

With my tiny understanding of life back then, I was sitting in awe, amazed by what I now called bullshit. Read more

My Trip to Portugal – A Nightmare I Am Grateful For

Just two weeks ago, I was traveling to Lisbon to attend the Agile Portugal conference. While the event itself was fantastic, my path to it was an ordeal. Majority of things that could go wrong, did just that. I caught a bad cold two days prior to the trip. My first flight was cancelled and I was boarded for an alternate route – I had to embark a plane going in the opposite direction. Then, while switching terminals in Madrid, I missed my flight. It turned my three-leg journey into four leg one, as I had to fly to Porto first. Finally, on a plane somewhat resembling World War 2 bombers, I arrived in Lisbon mere 12 hours late. As you can expect, my luggage arrived two days later, just hours in advance of my return trip. On top of that, just after delivering my talk, my vocal chords finally gave up and I literally lost my voice.

The whole trip was essentially a nightmare. I will, however, reminisce it with smile on my face. It was one of the best lessons on life, for three reasons. Read more

Origins of Culture

Once you enter a particular workplace, you notice a few things. The way people talk. The way they act. The things they say. While every individual behaves in their own, very specific manner, you’re likely to notice a pattern. They do have something in common, something distinctive. It’s almost like visiting some other country, which you expect to be very similar to yours. Very quickly, you’ll discover that your first impression is wrong. Nations grown upon, say, Greek and Roman heritage, generally behave the same way for any outsider. The quirks and peculiarities emerge rapidly though, making each of them to stand out. And all the companies within such national environment display the same differences to each other. In essence, that’s what we call culture.

But where does it come from? Read more

Rant on Working in Agile

If you ask people at any software development conference about the methodology they work in, you’re likely to notice that majority will just say “Agile”. Interestingly, they will claim so without taking a millisecond to think about it. On one hand, it’s kind of obvious. Who wouldn’t work using the best approach possible? On the other though, it does seem like a reflex. When asked about methodology, tell them about Agile.

It’s a little surprise that, when asked what they mean by that, each single person will give you a different answer! Read more

I Was Gone For A While – For A Good Reason

A bit over one year ago, I disembarked a plane at Chek Lap Kok airport in Hong Kong. I had remarkably little knowledge of the place, yet for several reasons, I was waiting for it for months. Except that I wasn’t. There was no waiting involved. It took me some time to gather funds, arrange for accommodation, and look for business opportunities to pursue while there. I worked hard to achieve my dream. Weeks of deliberate, focused action, backed by solid justification and some emotions involved.

That’s the kind of approach that takes people to the Moon.

And that’s the very reason I published my articles here sparsely lately. I focused all my attention on finishing my next book, one to help you change yourself, your organisation, and – with some more dedication – the world. While arranging words is what I do for a living, I’m literally unable to convey how excited I am about it. It will be available by the end of May – stay tuned.

Starting from next week, I’m be back to my regular schedule. See you on Monday.

In the meantime, have a badass Friday – and a nice weekend after it.

Worst Advice Ever

Every now and then, some friendly soul stumbles upon someone full of despair about some aspect of their life. Low on money, unhappy in love, with bad health – you name it. There are endless ways to be miserable. Some of these poor bastards actually attempt doing something to recover from their dire situation. That’s noble of itself, make no mistake. But quite often things just don’t work out well. They fail once. They fail twice. Then thrice. Then, if they’re still fighting, they might fail again. It is remarkably easy to give up. Don’t beat yourself if it happened to you. That’s just being human. With exception of relationships, we hate being stuck in the limbo. Then we give up and accept that we’ll never be rich, happy, or healthy. That makes us sad and miserable. Then the good soul appears and, with best intentions, shares the worst motivational advice ever. Read more

“Honey, did you get the napalm?” Or, Why the Requirements Suck

When you’re in a service industry, the usual client path starts the same, regardless of your particular branch of business. You approach them, or they reach out for you. Then, they send what they want. Then you employ your craftsmanship, providing them with adequate value for money. In most of the world, that is – sorry, North Korea and Cuba! And while you do it, things suddenly change. When you’re a car mechanic, it turns out that the actual fault is not the gearbox linkage, it’s the clutch worn out by the idiot owner. So, you contact the client and change the clutch. Then you make an order for a new clutch at a ridiculous discount. When you’re in interior design, it turns out that some, meticulously selected, shade of paint makes the man of the house look stupid every sunny evening. So, the client contacts you and you pick a new paint. One that makes him look like an orange, which is a noticeable upgrade to his dubious appeal. When you’re a hairdresser, it turns out your hipster customer looks like a Thailand-made lumberjack wannabe with his beard trimmed at 25 millimetres. So, you discuss the matter with him and turn him into a clean shaved man. A skinny, useless, and weak one – but a man. It seems ridiculously easy and it is. That’s how service business works all around the globe.

Not in software development industry, though. Read more

You Will Fail

For whatever reasons, quite often wrong or misperceived, we all try to introduce some change. Be it about our own lives, our teams, or our whole organisations, we want to make things better. Rest assured, it is never easy. Change sucks, is painful, and sometimes requires unearthly amounts of willpower. And it’s when you only apply it to yourself! Thinking of your family, your team, or whatever bigger entity – you may as well start praying.

Because, at one moment or another, you will fail miserably. Read more

5 Pillars of a Proper Presentation

Do you know what luck is? It’s the intersection of opportunity and preparation. I love to conceptualise, design, and deliver a proper public speech. Regardless of whether it’s presentation of a new idea, sharing experiences or making sales – when given the chance, I can work on it overnight without ever getting tired. Each of these events enables me to change something and, possibly, inspire others to follow. So that’s opportunity. How about the second ingredient? Preparing for a presentation is a huge deal, with several iterations of rehearsals and updates. But there are things you should really take into consideration before you even start anything. Read more

How Can You Tell?

If you work anywhere near software development, I can bet your organisation is Agile. Well, unless you live under the rock, work in some government institution, or your business is driven by grants. Still, monstrosities aside, nobody wants to admit working the old waterfall way. It is almost as cool as showing up in a car concourse in Skoda. Which, for those of you without a drop of gasoline in your blood, means utterly uncool. Agile has been the dogmatic new black for quite a few years now. Rest assured, I have no problem with that. In theory, it makes all the sense in the world.

Which is why I want you to ask yourself – how can you tell your organisation is Agile? What are the symptoms? What is the reason you want to give the only cool answer? Read more