The first 10 years of my career I worked as a consultant for Capgemini and Accenture. I learned a lot in that time. One of the things I learned was that I wanted something else. I wanted to do something with more impact, more responsibility and together with people that wanted to do challenging projects. Not pure to get up in your career but more because they like doing cool stuff. Therefore I left Accenture to become part of a company called JTeam. It has been over 6 years that this took place.
I started as Chief Architect at JTeam. The goal was to become a leader to the other architects and create a team together with Bram. That time I was lucky that Allard joined me. We share a lot of ideas, which makes it easier to set goals and accomplish them. I got to learn a few very good people at JTeam, to bad that some of them left, but that is life.
After a few years bigger changes took place. Leonard left for Steven and the shift to a company that needs to grow started. We took over two companies (Funk and Neteffect), we now had all disciplines of software development available. From front-end to operations. As the company grew some things had to change. I got more involved in arranging things like internships, tech events, partnerships and human resource management.
We moved into a bigger building and we had better opportunities. One of the opportunities was a search solution created by Shay Banon. Gone was Steven, together with Shay he founded Elasticsearch. We got acquired by Trifork. In this change we lost most of our search expertise because all of our search people joined the elasticsearch initiative. Someone had to pick up search at Trifork and that was me together with Bram.
For over 2 years I invested a lot of time in learning about mainly elasticsearch. I created a number of workshops/trainings and got involved with multiple customers that needed search. I have given trainings to a number of customers to groups varying between 2 and 15 people. In general they were all really pleased with the trainings I have given.
Having so much focus for a while gave me a lot of time to think, I did not need to think about next steps for the company, I just needed to get more knowledgeable about elasticsearch. In that time I started out on a journey to find out what I want. I talked to my management about it and thought about it myself a lot. Then, right before summer holiday I had a diner with two people I know through the Nljug, Hans and Bert. We had a very nice talk and in the end they gave me an opportunity that I really had to have some good thoughts about. It was really interesting, a challenge, not really a technical challenge, but more an experience that is hard to find. During summer holiday I convinced myself this was a very interesting direction and I took the next step.
I had a lunch meeting with my soon to be business partner Sander. After around 30 minutes it already felt good. I really feel the energy of creating something new, I feel inspired again. This is the feeling I have been missing for a while. In September we were told that Bram was leaving Trifork. Since he is the person that got me into JTeam back in the days it felt weird. I understand his reasons to go out and try to start something new. Bram leaving resulted in a vacancy for a CTO and the management team had decided to approach Allard for this role. This was a surprise to me, but a very nice opportunity for Allard and I know he i going to do a good job. At the end of September Sander and myself presented the draft business plan to the board for Luminis. That afternoon hands were shaken. It was than that I made the last call and decided to resign from my Job at Trifork and take this new opportunity at Luminis.
I feel sad about leaving some people behind. I am going to mis the morning talks in the car with Allard about everything related to the company, I am going to mis doing projects with Roberto (We are a hell of team), I am going to mis Byron for his capabilities (You make me feel proud that I guided your first steps within Trifork), I am going to mis chasing customers with Henk (We did a good job the passed year) and I am going to mis Daphne and the after lunch walks . To all of you and all the others at Trifork, it is a small world …
Together with Sander, and with the help of all the others at Luminis, we are going to start Luminis Amsterdam. This is going to be a challenge for me, but together with Sander I feel we are going to make it happen. I feel confident that the big changes to come will be good changes.
For one of my projects we wanted to create some nice charts. Feels like something you often want but do not do because it takes to much time. This time we really needed it. We had a look at D3.js library, a very nice library but so many options and a lot to do yourself. Than we found c3.js, check the blog post by Roberto: Creating charts with C3.js. Since I do a lot with AngularJS, I wanted to integrate these c3.js charts with AngularJS. I already wrote a piece about the integration. Now I went one step further by creating a set of AngularJS directives.
You can read the blog on the trifork blog:
A colleague of mine, Ronald Vonk, recommended this book to me. It is a book by one of the founders of Pixar, you know from all those fantastic computer animated movies. At pixar they created an continuous changing environment where creativity should excel. It is a very interesting read if you are interested in management books that are not to heavy on theories. Ed explains very well and entertaining how they went from a small company with a vision to a huge company with a vision.
Without to much spoilers, you really need to reed the book yourself, I want to mention a few things that I remembered after reading the book.
The team is more important than the idea’s or the talent of the separate people. Take care of the team, make sure they function well and give them responsibility. Make them feel proud when they finished what they wanted to create. Always put people first.
This is something I ran into in my normal working life as well. I do think you have to enable the teams to adept and to stay as a good team. The challenge is to get others in to learn and later on replace team members or start their own team.
We would never make a film that way again. It is the managements job to take the long view, to intervene and protect our people from their willingness to pursue excellence at all costs. Not to do so would be irresponsible.
This was a remark after delivering a movie under great time stress. They pulled through, but at a cost.
Braintrust – Group of people giving feedback and ideas for improvements on a certain idea. Important is that the feedback is meant to improve the idea, not to bully the person(s) the idea originated from. It is very important that everybody is open to the feedback and not defensive. In the end it is not the braintrust that makes a decision, it is the person in charge for the product. Still this group of people is kind of the first user and therefore the feedback should not be taken to lightly.
This was something I had a long thought about, my conclusion was that I am not really good at this. I often do feel that my ideas are my babies that need to be defended. First persuade me I am wrong, o sorry, an idea that someone had was not the best.
I did not want to become a manager, I just wanted to be one of the boys and do research. When we became bigger I realised I became more important and new people did not see me as a peer or one of the guys. I realised things were starting to get hidden from me. It is no problem as long as you trust people will tell someone else that will tell the most important things to me again.
Couldn’t agree more.
You can have this very nice polished finely tuned locomotive. People think that being the driver of the train is giving them power. They feel that driving the train in the end is shaping the company. The truth is, it’s not. Driving the train does not set it’s course. The real job is laying the track.
This was an eye opener a well, something you know but is hard to put into words.
At pixar they do not have contracts. They feel that employment contracts both hurt the employer as well as the employee. If someone had a problem with the company, there wasn’t much point in complaining because they were under contract. If someone didn’t perform well, on the other hand, there was no point in confronting them about it; their contract simply wouldn’t be renewed, which might be the first time they heard about their need to improve. The whole system discouraged and devaluated day-to-day communication and was culturally dysfunctional. But since everybody was used to it, they were blind to the problem.
This is a long one, have thought about it for a while. I think for now I would be to scared to do this in a company, still I like the idea.
What is the point of hiring smart people if you don’t empower them to fix what’s broken? Often to much time is lost in making sure no mistakes will be made. Often however, it just takes a few days to find solutions for mistakes.
Keeps coming back to the same point, a manager is a facilitator, nothing more nothing less. It is a very important role, just like all the others. Think about it, it is the team, the complete team.
A lot of people dream of creating the new Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Nobody knows when they will create it, most of the ideas just came to be big. Personally I do not believe I will ever create such a product. To busy with to much different things, usually based on great ideas of others. One thing I do like is reading about the success stories of others. I read the book about starbucks, microsoft, apple and a few others.
Recently I started reading the Twitter Story. It reeds like an exciting story, nevertheless it is telling a story based on interviews and facts behind one of the most exciting companies on the internet of the last century.
I do not think it is a coincidence that a lot of what I read in the Lean Startup but also the starbucks story is coming back in the twitter story. One thing that struck me in this book is what business does to friendship. It is also showing that people with great ideas are usually not the people that make this ideas into a profitable company.
When starting a company based on your terrific idea, read this book and learn from it. It might make your life a lot better.
Recently I saw some tweets about the possibility to finally have a website to express your hate for Eclipse. Since I am a strong believer in another tool than eclipse and I really don’t want to work with eclipse, at first I thought this was funny. Than I was checking some news posts and found a post on apple insider where they show a Samsung advertorial that bashes the iPhone battery life. Again, funny if you like samsung or you think android is better than the iPhone. Maybe even funny if you still love the iPhone.
These tweets and sources of information made me think about marketing of products, opinions of people and sometimes company strategies. As a company, do you want to prove you are better than someone else, or do you want to prove that you are really good. Personally I do not really care if I am better than someone else, I only care if I am good or maybe even superb.
Does it really work to be better than … ? Was Argentina better than the Dutch just a week a go? If not, like so many say, did it help the Dutch? Better than is an interesting concept in soccer. If your soccer teams never wins the championship, you as a fan still think they are the best. I get the same with my local soccer team, every parent thinks his kid is better than the other kids. So better than is incredibly subjective. If you say you create better software, does it sell better? What is good software? If you are into software quality you probably have a few tools to calculate the quality of software. Are you a better programmer if the lines of code you write have shorter length? Are you a better software developer if you use another tool than eclipse? I don’t really care. Use eclipse if you want to, use something else if you can afford it.
I like to make fun of people that use eclipse just like I make fun of people using linux or windows. But in the end, I don’t really care. I know people using windows or linux, working on eclipse can make better software than I can. I do not want to work for a company that tries to sell projects only by stating that they are better than someone else. I want my company to tell customers about what we are good at.
So if you are in the hating or Better than business put a hate comment on this blog, if not have a good day.
Today I was reading the first part of a book I got as a gift from one of my customers. The book is called Show your work by Austin Kleon(Show Your Work! @ Amazon). The whole idea around this book is that you must be open en share what you learn and the steps you took to learn.
I think this fits me like a glove, but I can be more expressive. Therefore I have decided to do things differently. I want to start by writing smaller pieces of the things I want to do that day, or what I accomplished that day, give some excerpts of things I am working on. Not real blog posts or tutorials but more notes that I share with you. Since it is a Sunday I only want to share the book I am reading.