Marcin has been a great supportor of some of the things I did. He was one of he first contributors to the Agile Conferences calendar. And with ConfRadar he took that one step further. I always loved it when people take a crazy idea from me, and turn it into a viable business. Not being from Eastern Europe, at first I confused him with Marcin Floryan, but gradually I learned they were two great individuals.
What is something people usually don’t know about you but has influenced you in who you are?
I got my first computer (Atari XE65) when I was ten or eleven I think and since then I knew I want to be a programmer. After some time my parents decided that they will buy me a PC (x386 at that time), because they saw me investing so much time in learning computer stuff. My father took an extra seasonal job to earn more just for that PC. Since then, if I wanted to upgrade anything I needed to find a job to earn for that. And so I did. All my choices during the school years were focused on learning programming, mathematics and the like to start Computer Science at the university. I’m grateful to my parents for supporting my hobby those days, because now I can do what I do, which is creating software. At the same time my parents also taught me to work hard to achieve the goals I set for myself.
If you would not have been in IT, what would have become of you?
I always wanted to be an astrophysicist (well at first, when I was six I wanted to be an astronaut ). But to be serious I’m a board games geek and I think I would have gotten into that business instead of IT. I’m still thinking about designing a few games by myself. So who knows…
What is your biggest challenge and why is it a good thing for you?
I have new ideas very often and they tend to distract me. I usually manage to stay focused, but the biggest challenge for me is not to commit to too many projects or activities at one time. I still fail to do that too often. This is because I’m usually very enthusiastic about new opportunities or things I know I could do and which could be useful to somebody. So through the years I learned to choose my commitments carefully as well as to distinguish things that are important to achieve the goal from those that are only bells and whistles. Nevertheless ideas keep coming :-).
What drives you ?
I always wanted to build useful things. When I was at the university I never liked the courses where the subject was too abstract. I needed to find a purpose for doing those things. It doesn’t mean that I don’t do anything just for fun, but I always wanted to create something that people can actually find helpful or fun and use it.
So what drives me is to see that my work is useful. Whenever I get some feedback (no matter positive or negative) it gives me a lot of great energy. The same is true when I go to conferences. They fill my brain with many different points of view that I can use later on to create my own vision. I love to meet people that actively change the world around them. Would be great to be able to say the same about myself. Such people drive and influence me in pursuing that goal.
What is your biggest achievement?
I would divide it into personal and professional one. On the professional level I’d say that starting my own company and managing to create software that people use and like would be my biggest achievement so far. This is something I’ve always wanted. But it’s still the beginning. I also love the freedom of choices I can take from being my own boss. I really like the feeling of creating something from scratch that is later on used globally thanks to today’s technology and internet. This is also the reason that after so many years I still love programming.
My personal achievement is five years old now 🙂 Of course just the fact of having a son is not so difficult to achieve, but raising a kid to become a curious, passionate and active human being is way more difficult than building a product or running an agile project. There are no rollbacks 😉 Every day can challenge you more than you can imagine, but at the end it will make you proud. At least my wife and I, we’re proud of what we’ve achieved so far.
What is the last book you have read?
Some time ago I laughed with my wife that my reading list changed lately and now contains mostly books for children which we read one after another. But my latest quick read was Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity by Hugh MacLeod. A great book to reset your mind and get a fresh look at what you do.
I tend to read a lot of books partially. I read one or two chapters, then get into another one and come back to them later. But I also subscribe to at least a hundred of blogs (mostly agile or programming related) which I try to keep up with. So lately I rather read professional stuff through blogs or articles in the internet (whenever they hit me through Twitter or other social “messengers”) and keep the time for books to those I can just relax with. For example lately I’ve finally managed to make up with Ursula Le Guin’s “Earthsea” series (which was a shame not to read earlier and call myself a fantasy fan).
What question do you think I should also ask and what is the answer?
“Where should we look for improvements to our today’s way of building products?”. This is something that intrigues me. I know this series of interviews is about people somehow related to the agile movement, but are agile or lean approaches the best ones we know so far?
I actually don’t know the answer to that question, but I wonder if the fact that so many teams don’t follow many agile practices and still call themselves agile is caused by misunderstanding of the principles, by the laziness, politics, or maybe by the fact that those methods just lack some ingredient.
If such simple principles are so hard to follow, then maybe we need something different and on the other hand more pragmatic? I know that there are so many teams that will tell us they achieved a high level of agility, thus others can also do that. But is the improvement process behind the Agile Manifesto infinite? Is agile or lean approach a step towards even better method or should we be looking at it from a different angle? Should we be looking somewhere else?
Who do you think I should ask next?
- I think it should be Paul Klipp who did tremendous work for agile movement in Poland by organizing the first Agile Central Europe conference (now ACE). Paul also has a lot of great insight about running an agile company and has been doing it successfully for years.
- I’d also love to read what David Hussman has to say to your questions.
If you like these answers, you might want to check out our book who is agile
When you buy it, you will get answers to these same quesstions from 89 people.
And it contains also Marcin’s answer to Jukka’s Question: What’s your last significant insight related to your work?