Meet Sergei. (Actually Sergei Sergejev, is the Estonian version. The English version is is Sergey Sergeev.) Yves has been following him for a while on twitter. (He tweets both in Russian and English.)
Sergei was one of these people, who made his answers in a very agile way. He wrote them then rewrote them and then created another update.
Sergei in front of a Tupolev 134-A
What is something people usually don’t know about you but has influenced you in who you are?
One of the biggest secret influences in who I am is my family’s aviation roots. My grandfather was an IL-2 pilot and instructor during WWII and a civil pilot afterwards. He served a total of about 35 years in the air and in ground control after retirement.
My father is also a pilot, a 1st class captain, flying 15 out of total 30 years on Tu-134 – a plane with the fastest landing speed. It is also a plane with the most beautiful engine sound and exhaust trace. My mother was a stewardess 🙂
The way I was raised had a lot of influence on situational awareness, plan B and C calculation, situational analysis and a habit for detailed preparation for doing stuff. I’ve heard many stories of different extreme situations my father and other pilots faced. These included stories of root cause analysis of in-flight problems and even disasters. At a very young age I learned how different chains of simple failures result in disasters and how a certain amount of discipline and preparation is needed to avoid those.
I believe it made me a good tester and now a ScrumMaster. Many things in modern development processes remind me how pilots work – flight planning sessions, checklists, team work, status checks, automation, continuous learning and certification, etc.
If you had not been in IT, what would have become of you?
As a kid I wanted to be an engineer/construction worker and build huge buildings. I guess cranes on construction sites near our home were so compelling. According to my parents, my first well spoken word was crane.
Before university I was seriously considering becoming a doctor, but studying about 8 years with little government support looked hopeless and I chose to study IT Systems Development. When I have a bad day at work I still wonder what it would be like in the hospital…
What is your biggest challenge and why is it a good thing for you?
One thing about implementing agile involves discovering the inner human beings in yourself and in people around you. To this day one of my biggest challenges is improving my communication and social interaction. As a ScrumMaster/coach you have to listen a lot, try to understand problems people have and you need to keep the discussion productive and constructive. With each discussion I become a better human. Sometimes I fail and learn from it. Sometimes I surprise myself by how I speak and manage to help people learn something new or help them solve problems. This makes me keep wanting to work even after very hard and stressful day. I like it.
What drives you ?
Curiosity about how other people live, how different parts of our planet look. I want to travel to lots of places around the world. It would be also fantastic to live for a few months here and there, but backpack traveling is also fine. I adore how Mary and Tom Poppendiecks travel together 🙂 This pushes me to do my work better and helps me outline my career.
From my school years I felt that I needed to do something that makes an impact, something that makes our lives easier and happier. This is why I wanted to be a doctor. I guess I still am one – when I was a tester I was giving diagnosis for programs and now I examine and help teams. Helping in general and being part of something that helps people drives me.
What is your biggest achievement?
I believe my biggest achievement is not achieved yet. If you insist on selecting what is my biggest achievement so far, it is this: to have the guts to stay true to my values and to be open and vocal on things that bother me. Most of us have values, but the number of people afraid to raise their voice keeps on amazing me. These “achievements” evolve everyday. They help me to understand who I am and what I want and to keep right people around me. Life is easier as you focus on things that matter with people you are well connected to. You see where to improve and you remove waste from your life. Besides being essential in personal life, it’s a very cool thing at work – you end up with people who respect you and are passionate about the same things.
What is the last book you have read?
A signed copy of “Lean from the trenches” by Henrik Kniberg. I recommend it. At the moment, I’m reading F*ck It. The Ultimate Spiritual Way by John C. Parkin. A funny and interesting book on applying Lean principles, removing waste and keeping focus among others, in everyday life 🙂
What question do you think I should also ask and what is the answer?
How do you feel being part of “Who is agile”?
I found “Who is Agile” via twitter and read about several people, lighthouses of lean and agile. When I got a letter from Yves I was quite surprised: “Who?! Me??!!”. But having a rather turbulent Scrum experience and knowing from first person conversations that my thoughts align well with what other rather well known and respected agile & scrum folks think, I do realize I am part of this boat.
What worries me is that it seems Agile was hijacked (at least in the enterprise) and often means some top-down, command and control ScrumBut thing with bonuses attached to burndown charts and velocity values and 20+ people teams working on weekends to fulfill the commitment. Because of this when you say you’re a ScrumMaster or Agile Coach many IT people treat you like a money-eager consultant, religious fanatic or a person who failed to understand programming and was placed into managerial role (and whom they won’t ever respect).
I like context-driven school of testing and as they say – everything has its own context, everything depends on a context; there are good practices in context, but there are no best practices. I acknowledge that certain teams won’t make it, or lets say won’t make it far or as fast as other teams would, with certain approaches because of organizational impediments and cultural differences. I love people who say “no we’re not doing agile or scrum, we took something here and there and we’re fine”. It’s their context and, actually, looks like what agile should be – being free and flexible.
That being said I’m cautious with being labeled Agile, but I’m happy to be on this boat so far and it feels good to be able to clarify my views in the Who is Agile series 🙂
Whom do you think I should ask next?
There are already so many people interviewed, so it’s a hard question.
Mikalai Alimenkou, from Ukraine, who runs a very interesting twitter feed, runs several agile development and testing courses and who also organises several conferences. He seems to be the kind of person for Who Is Agile.