I met Daniel at an agile conference. It was quickly clear that he was skipping the dogma and heading towards value. He cares about building the right thing as well as building it the right way. Working with a strong band of pragmatic rebels, Daniel is clearly working to introduce agility in lasting ways that work within China.
What is something people usually don’t know about you but has influenced you in who you are?
I was fortunate to work closely with Lixing Sun, who was one of the earliest adopters of CMM in China as well as a software process expert. Even though he doesn’t admit it, I treat him as my career and life mentor. What he changed in me is not his CMM knowledge but his attitude towards career and life. He said (8 years ago) to me , “I can still fail two more times by the age of fifty. Every five years I can make a career change and start again, and all what I need to do is to learn and improve myself continuously.” Inspired by him as a role model, I learned quite a few learning habits from him and started my journey of continuous improvement.
If you had not been in IT, what would have become of you?
Because of my family background, I had the opportunity to play with computers when I was very young. It is very natural for me to be in IT. Besides IT, I am interested in animals and plants, so maybe I would have pursued a career as a biologist.
What is your biggest challenge and why is it a good thing for you?
My biggest challenge is to be the Product Owner of myself. I have many life projects. I want to spend more time with family, I have strong passion for continuous learning, I want to help and influence more people in China possibly via more sharing and community work. However my time is limited. Prioritization has become a most difficult job for me. On the other hand, this is a good thing. At least, I know what I care in life and I know why.
What drives you ?
It is a hard question. After thinking for a while, I discovered the desire to better myself and help others improve is the thing that drives me the most. Many years ago, I only learned things on my own, but did little sharing. Once after reading a book, which was The Art of Agile Development, I decided to share this book with my team. Based on the content of this book and some other information, I prepared seven tech talks for my team. They enjoyed it a lot and I realized that I really enjoy sharing. Actually I gained more insights in preparation, re-reading of the book and answering questions than by reading it the first time. So I started to share more in public, at meet-ups, conferences etc. Soon, I got to know more people and developed a very good social network. Many people are experts in various areas. I got to know more Unknown Unknowns. This turned out to be a reinforcing loop.
Learning -> Sharing -> Network -> Learning.
What is your biggest achievement?
I believe my biggest achievement so far is that I was the main contributor in creating a huge learning and sharing network in China. Via this network, many people in China have discovered and started pursuing a better way of working and living. I created Agile Tour China and for two years, it has been the biggest agile event ever in China. There were 14 cities involved and there will be more this year, which is the biggest agile and community movement. Many people from the team I worked and coached were encouraged to become the community contributors, conference/event organizers, volunteers, and speakers. The experience with such a movement has influenced many people as they have now started to think about who they are and what they care about in their work and life.
What is the last book you have read?
The last book I read is “The Lean Startup – How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Business”. It is an insightful and practical book. Ries did a great job to provide a useful tool or methodology for successful startups such as the ideas of validated learning, the build-measure-learn framework, actionable metrics, etc.
What question do you think I should also ask and what is the answer?
Why are you so deeply involved in community development in China and what do you care most about it? There is a huge number of IT professionals in China. However, most of them do it just to earn a living Due to various reasons such as language barriers and education, they have had little motivation to learn and improve themselves after they graduate from school. Many of them are talented and they have strong passion, but they don’t have any good direction. I want to try my best to awaken as many as IT professionals as possible by my contribution to China community. What I care most about the community development is that it should be owned by the community and for the community.
Whom do you think I should ask next?
as two mentors from whom I learned a lot.