Born in the USA, Paul has been in Kraków for over a decade, and was instrumental in the explosion of Ruby on Rails popularity here, the improvement of management systems with Agile methodology and Kanbanery, as well as helping to get Kraków on the map as the perfect place to come for talent. From Paul’s point of view, the advantages of Poland and the companies operating here is abundantly clear.
Mentions and links:
Table of contents:
- 07:14 Intro
- 09:00 Paul’s backstory.
- 11:30 How the job market for coders has changed in Kraków.
- 12:45 From journalism to prison catering.
Active Learning & Giving Back to Your Community
- 18:23 The uncomfortable truth about learning from books.
- 23:40 Entrepreneur vs opportunist.
- 26:15 Paul’s impact on TEDx Kraków.
- 31:20 TEDx’s impact on Kraków.
How to Manage Yourself & Your Team
- 38:15 The death of Lunar Logic
- 44:45 How Paul would find clients early on.
- 49:40 How Agile management fixes our broken system.
- 54:26 Scrum methodology, and its limits
The Future of Our Community
- 59:25 How Kraków will move forwards.
- 63:50 Will we see the death of apps?
- 66:41 Outro
Hello again Project Kazimierz listener, this is Sam Cook here with my co-host Richard altogether with our guest Paul Klipp, Richard how are you ?
Very well, good afternoon everyone if it’s afternoon when you’re listening.
And Paul, Richard I’m gonna let you as tradition since you know most of our guest better than I do introduce Paul. A little bit of his background before we get into that here.
So I think I’ve first met Paul in about 2007 or 2008 introduced by Ramon Tancinco who also spoke on this podcast with on of our early episodes. Back then he was both an entrepreneur and setting up the IT small business alliance which I’ve had some failed earlier who wants to start networking community back in early 2000s. It was called the First Tuesday and Paul was doing some of this interview working better than what I was doing and always in my life I’ve been most succesful when I worked with people more effective than me. I tried to cope with that so we later worked together with Paul leading the first ever TEDxKrakow in 2010 and we’ve stayed in touch with supporting different projects. We’re both busy people so quite often we tend to work together when doing something as today. But Paul also has been very succesful entrepreneur with a company called LunarLogic which I’m sure helped until everyone more during the program.
And also a new project that I’ve talked to Paul is exciting is software as a service project Kanbanery and I as an outsider observe and looking at this community I think where I’d like to start with you Paul is your early journey in Krakow and then just how did you happen as an American to land here. What have you seen during the early years and getting started here and how things have changed.
Things are changed rather drasticly in the 10+ years since I’ve first arrived. I came to Krakow in 2004 and previously I’ve been working with a company called LunarLogic in America which is located Ugine Oregan. A lovely little town in central Oregan and there was a running joke when I first came that a because the company was growing so fast that the CEO would ask me to go and set up a branch office in Portland and I missunderstood.
And that was the joke on you or joke on them ?
Well, I think the joke’s on them, because they were out of business a year later and I’m still here.
What was the original plan comming to Krakow and tell us how it worked out and your benefits here.
The original plan was that the company that I was with was growing very rapidly, they had very demanding client that was throwing more work that they could handle and they were in a small town where they couldn’t hire as many people as they needed and in the same time this client was interested in offshore more and more, because everyone was talking about that back in 2004. And we concieved this plan, this kind of branch office that was abroad and in that way we could both keep that work. And tap into a larger labor market and also allow our client to have the benefits of offshoring without losing any of their business. And so because I had experience working abroad I had worked in Poland for two years mostly teaching international business and economics. But also doing marketing for a group of universities in the States and then I worked in South Africa for a couple of years. Mostly doing consulting. I was a natural for the job of of going inserting the overseas branch also might help them with their growth I started with the company when they were only twenty seven people and help them to grow to over two hundred fifty. So I was eager to do something different so I came over here and started hiring Java developers at a time when it was ludicrously easy to hire Java developers in Krakow because the reason we chose Krakow back then is that Krakow has two major universities that both have good technical programs. And there were very few employers in Krakow back in 2004 that were attracting these people so a lot of people were coming to school to Krakow finding it was a beautiful city graduating with a tech degree and having to go back home for work when they’d much rather stay here. And so you could just hang out a sign saying now hiring Java developers and people would queue up outside your door to give their CV. Which clearly is not the case today.
Clearly not. And also I mean one thing I forgot to mention in the introduction apart from Kanbanery area which in Kanbanery I understand as a partner for TEDxKazimierz we’re getting the tool for truth for free for a speaker management program so kudos for Paul for that. But also you did the AC Agile central Europe conference which I forgot to mention but could you go back a bit further like what’s your what’s your background because like and we’ve still got off we get people like the personal story didn’t start with Eugene Oregon and lunar logic what was your background did you were an IT guy were you a computer guy ? Where were you born and where you’re from.
I was not an IT guy I made a terrible mistake one might say although I think it’s it’s played out rather nicely in the long run. Of not getting as involved in the computer revolution back in the days when all of my friends were taking apart their Atari’s and learning how to put them back together again. So I was intensely interested in journalism when I was young I was the youngest newspaper editor in the history of the Texas Press Association. I ran my own newspaper while I was still a high school student. It was a city newspaper for a publishing group. And then I want to do a degree in journalism and ended up getting dissolution during the process and switching to anthropology. So I got it undergraduate degrees in anthropology and english composition and did the only thing that I could with it which was running the food service operation in a prison.
By the way there are three people in this podcast all of whom have slightly strange sense of humor so if you hear a laughing and you’re not laughing you may have to get used to that to the rest of this podcast.
Not to discourage anyone from pursuing a degree in anthropology it’s been proving to be immensely useful in many many aspects of my life but getting a first job was not one of them. My plan has always been since I started anthropology to go into corporate culture change consulting because that seemed to be a very exciting field that hadn’t emerged yet and so I went back to school for an MBA because I figured that would give me the credibility I needed to practice. But the last bit of the puzzle was for an experience I had a degree in anthropology I have a specialization in international business and I’ve only ever taken one spring break trip to Mexico in my life which is the only reason I owned a passport. And so I took a job that my international human really resources. Professor found for me with a group of a consortium of universities big ten universities doing marketing for them in Europe and that’s how I ended up finding out that I love travel. But at this point by now the the IT world was booming, Silicon Valley was being created. The bubble had burst yet. All of my friends were doing wonderful in the IT and making great money and it seemed like the place to be. And I didn’t have any of the background I needed to get in there it was just through luck really that after my few years doing consulting in South Africa I was back in America just after 9/11 which is the worst time in the world to come back to America after being away for a few years because the economy was in serious trouble back then obviously and there was a flood of unemployed MBA’s on the market because that was just after Arthur Andersen that collapsed. And so I got myself a job my job title was chief operating officer of a marketing agency. My actual daily job duties was mostly making a large balloon sculptures because this company owned a balloon company that they had bought and person who ran it had left and so they had tons of balloon sculptures that had to be made. So that when I was an interesting job and I enjoyed it because I enjoy every job that I ever do. One of the things that I think is is a very important no matter what you’re doing is to focus not just on what you’re doing but more on how you’re doing it I was explaining this to my son just yesterday who hates mathematics. That one way of dealing with a task that doesn’t excite you is to get excited about doing it as well as you can. And so I was absorbed in this job of becoming America’s premier expert in large balloon construction and even now had folks like Disney asking me for advice on their own constructions but it was not what I wanted to be for the rest of my life so I started making it known among my circle of friends that I was open to other ideas and one of them said you know I’m working with a small software company in the Oregan. And some of the experiences that you have you’ve had coordinating large projects in South Africa make me think that maybe you could coordinate technology projects as well. And so I kind of jumped into technology project management with both feet assuming it was like any other kind of project management. And found a lot of parallels and differences and learned quickly the best way to learn how to do the job is to do it. The best job you can possibly have is one from which you are not quite qualified but have some toe in the doors so you’re not totally lost anybody who was over qualified for the job probably isn’t learning. So I took a job for which I wasn’t qualified and I think I had to grow into it quickly. And that’s how I ended up on IT and that was a good. That was back in what 2002, 2003 so at this point I’ve got people looking at me like I’m a veteran when in fact. I can very very clearly remember when I had no idea what I was doing.
One thing that I’ve noticed over the years you’ve been very much so polymath interested in different areas and now I know a bit more about one of the nice things about doing these interviews is you get to know things about your friends that you didn’t having spend nine to ten years. I notice very often you’re reading a book that’s to do a self improvement again not necessarily according a skill but some full knowledge. How do you learn because obviously you’ve been through formal education but I get the sense you’re teaching your your learning a lot through your own efforts. You’re self teaching is that right ?
Yes alum I I was highly influenced by a talk that one of our speakers gave at the ACE conference three years ago now.
That’s Agile Central Europe unless you didn’t figure out.
“One can fetishize knowledge to the extent that it just becomes interesting to be interested.”
It used to be agile central Europe I’ve rebranded is ACE because we started incorporating more lean and you UX content into it. So it’s not strictly an agile conference anymore. So it’s not the ACE conference. I actually planned that from the start when I called that the agile central Europe to the reason why I like that title was that if I ever wanted to diversify the content away from purely agile I could do so without necessarily get changed the domain. But he give a talk it was Marcin Florian a consultant from Poland working in the UK. Who gave a talk called “no learning”. He talked about a mentor he had. He would frequently go to this this guy and say I just read this fantastic thing it’s so brilliant it’s going to change my life. And his mentor always asking the same question well tell me how you’ve used it so far. Oh I haven’t done anything with it yet I just read and I’m really excited about. To which his mentor reply you haven’t learned a thing until you’ve applied it. Untill you’ve done something with it incorporated into your life it’s just something that is waiting to be forgotten and so it used to be that I would read a lot to learn and I realized that to some extent one can fetishize knowledge to the extent that it just becomes interesting to be interested and so I would often read lots of history. I love reading history the same way that I like reading fiction but it doesn’t make a real impact on my life and it takes an enormous amount of repetition before anything sticks. For example I have read easily twenty books about Republican Roman history and I’m reading another one right now and I’m still being reminded as I’m reading the one now of things that I have read twenty times before and forgotten and now I’m learning it all over again. So simply reading books I find to be absolutely useless. Great for education but useless in terms of learning from me the only way that I’ve really learned something new is what I tackle the problem that has to be solved that I don’t know how to solve. And so for example in when I took over running Kanbanery one of the reasons why I stepped into that role is that I’m very interested in design ethnography it seems like a fantastic way to apply my background in ethnographic research and anthropology as well as much interests in technology but it’s something I’ve absolutely never done before I know nothing about and so I simply gave myself the job of designer ethnographer. Job that I was again barely qualified for, but had some background in that could be useful and I simply got some books on it. But the thing about the books is that every single time I took ideas from a book I would translate them into to-do items and I would actually do them. I would apply everything to a problem I had which was in the early days of taking over Kanbanery really understanding our clients. What their environment is. What their needs are. In what ways Kanbanery is currently fulfilling those need and in which ways it’s not and I lobbed right into to interviewing users. Into evaluating and drawing actionable conclusions from large amounts of qualitative data and the reading helped me tremendously but if I had only read those things and never done them I would not be able to to say that I had learned.
“The only way that I really learn something new is when I tackle the problem that has to be solved that I don’t know how to solve. ”
Learning by doing something that I think all three of us have experienced and done and certainly that’s the message that we can send out loud to anyone who is listening to learn by doing things. But we’re in an age where entrepreneurship is very fashionable, cool, sexy whatever you like to call it and obviously looking at your CV you seem very entrepreneurial is it how you selfidentify do you see also yourself as an entrepreneur or when you’ve taken a new task, you’ve taken lunar logic, you’ve taken on Kanbanery, you set up a conference, you set up the first TEDx in Krakow which is maybe more franchise than doing it yourself from scratch but do you see yourself as an entrepreneur ?
23:45 PAUL: I’m more of an accidental entrepreneur. I think I see myself more as an opportunist, a shameless optimist in the sense that I allways see the best in every situation including ones that other people might perceive as being really bad and I always make the best of the situation that I’m in by a literally really keeping my options open for as long as possible. The first company it might go back a little further I was going to say the first company actually ran I didn’t intend to run and that’s the lunar logic in Poland because when I came here to run a branch office I did not expect my parent company to go out of business and leave me with the option of either quickly shutting down the company showing on the bridge office or repurposing it as a new new business but indeed I put myself through university by running a photography studio doing some freelance writing I have always preferred working for myself to working for other people.I think in my case personally I have identified that a lot of this stress that I experienced in my life is not from bad things happening but from don’t have any control over them and so I much rather crash and burn because of something I did then even succeed at the whim of somebody else in terms of regulating my stress levels.
So if you’re thinking as a team player.
I’m as much team player any coach.
Well you you like to lead the team in but team members sure your organizations are very collaborative and that’s actually one of the things I will get to a little bit is on agile coaching. Before we go into agile cuz I really love the work that you’ve done on this but you know Richard and you’ve bounced around. The thing I’ve been struck by is how TEDxKrakow almost kick-started or really was you know I think Estimote founders have some history at that conference and you know Ramon Tancinco and some of the other people. It really seem to bring together a lot of very talented people in the community. Why did you jump into TEDxKrakow and what do you what do you think looking back at the legacy of that and how everything is progressing here ?
The original idea because Richard wouldn’t. I recall being at dinner with Ralf Talmen and he was encouraging you and me and Ewa Spohn and I think there are a couple of the people at the table I don’t remember and he said you know this is this is going really well in Warsaw and you really ought to be doing it in Krakow. I can give you the materials I can give you introductions to the folks at TED I can give you advice and consulting and coaching and I can help make it successful we just need somebody to take responsibility somebody put their name on the project and and say I will be the the coordinator of TEDxKrakow and we all just looked at each other for a long time and at the moment I didn’t have anything big going on and I had been involved. I was running the the ACE conference which was still called agile central europe back then and I had organized the Rucko conference. Which was a roaming Ruby on Rails conference that happens in a different country in Europe every year and I’d organized the one year before that so I just figured that perhaps in terms of large-scale event management I was probably the most qualified at the table and so I I felt kind of ashamed and raising my hand anyway it it turned out really well Ralph is fantastic and very very helpful he had done it successfully in Warsaw for a few years at that point and the community came together wonderfully in Krakow. I met a lot of people that wouldn’t have known otherwise. I remember Richard was very active in the first TEDxKrakow and the woman who was sent since taking it over was one of the core team members. Also so much of what I’ve done has been.I’ve always believed is really important to do things that benefit the community because we are all in this together once you choose the community in which you’re going to to build a business or to build a career or build a brand there are so many interrelated elements for example when I first arrived in Krakow there was this notion. I talked to a few people who tried starting initiatives to bring together the tech community before and the entrepreneural community before there was an ocean which no longer exists I think in the Polish tech community but it was very much a carryover from older ideas of how businesses are supposed to be born in Poland of isolationism enclosed this protecting yourself looking at all other businesses around you as active or potential competitors which I saw as dangerous because at the time I was running a service business a business-to-business service company and that was one of the areas that was just starting to emerge in Krakow that is since boomed. Krakow is now one of the major exporters of services in the world certainly one major exporters that services in in Europe and the most important component of business-to-business services is the perception of the sector so if for example I’m trying to sell business-to-business services to a entrepreneur in London who’s looking to offshore his development services and he’s got a friend who outsource some work to anywhere in Poland and had a bad experience that’s going to color that person’s experience of Poland. The Poland tech community as a whole and so I thought it very important that we work together in order to make sure that we’re all successful it’s very much the same the same fundamental idea that leads petrol companies to all set up a service stations at the same intersection that just everyone does better when that becomes the place to go for petrol and everybody does get better when Poland is the place to go for talent. So fostering an environment of collaboration proved to be very useful for myself and for many others purely selfish motives and I think that TEDxKrakow was just another extension of the same strategy of positioning Krakow as an exciting, interesting, innovative place where things happen because that’s good for publicity, good for marketing, good for branding good for all of us.
“Everybody does better when Poland is the place to go for talent. So fostering an environment of collaboration proved to be very useful for myself and others.”
Certainly I think I remember that lunch in a restaurant on Sienna I think it’s not called Artefact It’s called Aparetive. And I remember this silence when the question came up who is going to run it and I cannot for the life of me remember why I knew it couldn’t be me but I had some very powerful I think it might have been to do with the age of my children but you had children so it can’t have been. I think I don’t know whether it was familiy I think it was a family and some personal circumstances that I couldn’t think I don’t think I have a job. I don’t try to remember. But also that was clearly the case that Paul had more experience but for me the selfish reason was the idea what Paul tried with the IT Small Business Alliance a tried with the first tuesday. It wasn’t proving that easy to get this community going. It was also kind of selfish reasons that people who were interested in TED and TEDx would be interesting people. It was antagonism. TED even then was a major brand it was a much more powerful than anything that existed localy. And I felt anyone in town. There are probably lots of people in town who aren’t TED and I don’t know who they are, but organising the TEDx will be a way of finding this people. So that is a much better than simply the entrepreneurship suit because there lots of people who are very interesting nice attractive inspiring people who have nothing to do with business and the business community tends to gravitate towards people who are interested in making money and profits which is a very good thing to be interesting but it’s not the only game in town. And that is much broader than that I felt that the entrepreneurs need to meet another social entrepreneur, people who are doing things. I think it worked out very well. It started something that proved to be pretty unstoppable.
Well you think of what grew out of that again you know again Estimote just got funded Series A fundin. The famous story is they met at TEDx. They met at one of the TEDxKrakow and you know the open coffee movement started after that. Google for entrepreneurs and you know just a lot of initiatives. It’s very interesting to see and a case study if you listen to this anywhere else in the world what what the positive spinoffs of bringing TEDx to the community can become because it hadn’t been successful up until TEDx. The kind of the community movement.
Ramon Tancinco talks about its relations that you get that when project fails he never know whether it was a bad idea in the first place it was a great idea with the wrong people or it was a great idea with the right people but the timing was wrong that causes a failure. Also the internet was growing and growing an growing and so the ability to make contact with people through things like social media. Facebook was a young company backthen in 2010. I don’t have know how many years it’s been going but having a community on Facebook made it much easier to coordinate people and bring them together so there were many things happening in parallel.. We just made it the perfect storm or the right time.
Can you talk about what lunar logic is? You mentioned it is services business for foreign companies. Two things one can you just give a few numbers about lunar logic as you build it up to before handed delivery because you no longer running it and also by only describing how you find your customers by browsing through the job ads of American the positions vacant American jobs sites and for how you find customers is something that should be interesting to every entrepreneur and also what sort of business it was when you handed it over.
Yes absolutely it was. I got the news, the bad news on a Friday I got an email. I only been in poland for about six months at this point I had hired I think we had maybe eight or nine people and their job was doing whatever the American head office told them to do so I had a pretty cushy start-up I had a guaranteed customer I was sent over here with enough money in my pocket to set up the business and a guaranteed floor work.
Which is incredibly dangerous. If you have one customer don’t think that’s cushy. Feel like a guy who gots your life supports switch in his hand.
And he flip the switch on Friday, a spring Friday I got an email and the wording of the email is very important it was we’ve just lost our biggest account which is another illustration of how dangerous it is to have to rely too much on one client and so we’re going to have to close down. He didn’t say we’re going to close down the office. He said we’re going to have to stop sending work to Krakow. Please shut down the business before you run out of money. Which gave me an option. He didn’t say shut down the business he said shut it down before you run out of money. I remember going home in a bit of the panic and taking a walk with my wife pushing my son who was then only a few months old.
Great time to hear that news.
And thinking well you know there aren’t any really good children’s clothing distributors in poland I think I would really enjoy retail maybe I’ll start up a children’s clothing store and import stuff from America. That was my idea. But first I’ll take a crack at keeping things together and so what I had was a couple of Java developers, a couple of testers. But what I one thing that I had was very very interesting I didn’t even realise quite how interesting it was is I had a few PHP programmers keep in mind this is spring 2005. For any Ruby on Rails people out there you’ll be able to put into some context and one of them was a java developer who she told me she just wanted to do something interesting. She wanted t do something new, something interesting and so we took one of our internal projects and I suggested trying to do it using this new framework that was going on in the open source community called rails. Instead of using PHP she use Ruby on Rails to build an internal time tracking system and the PHP programmers in the company were looking over her shoulder and getting kind of jealous at the syntax, the cleanliness and the ease of creating a basic application using Rails and this was back in the days of rails 0.8 so it was a good six months before Ruby on Rails was released as stable. So I had in this company that I had to shut down before we run out of money with about six weeks worth of money left in the bank. Three of the only experienced Ruby on Rails programmers in the world who didn’t work for David Hanumarhancy. I started looking for clients and I was looking for two things. Mostly looking for anything that these people would do. So I was looking for job, I was looking for PHPs, looking for web development but I was also putting out a few feelers about Ruby on Rails and one of them stuck in a rather monumental way for us. There were some there were a few people working for the United Nations Media Lab in Tokyo who were really excited about Ruby on Rails and it started playing with it themselves and they were looking for a company that could do offshore Ruby on Rails development six months before rails was even declared to be stable. So they were kind of out there too and we found each other because they couldn’t find anybody else talking about this outside of the 37 signals so just as it has it so happened our very first client and the only one would be able to put into our portfolio was one of the best-known brands in the world the United Nations. What are the other striking things about that a lot of people get really nervous about doing creative agile work with large institutions and the United Nations was one of those difficult contracts that I ever negotiated it it ended up being a one and a half page contract and a half page contract instead of my usual one-page contracts and it was done in an entirely agile manner with no fixed costs no fixed price even though it was a huge multinational organization with with loads of bureaucracy on the one side and a Polish supplier on the other side both of which are supposed to be impossible to do with with anything but an express contract in an agile way. And just by agreeing to common goals and putting the necessary trust mechanisms in place we were able to do the job with a one and a half page contract which is one of the things I’m still rather proud of. That’s how we got started and once we had one possibly the first commercial Ruby on Rails project outside of 37 signals in the world under our belts the work for Ruby on Rails just started flooding in.
OK and there was something about looking for clients by perusing job at this. When you think about it is very simple idea but quite often business is a simple ideas that made a difference and I think is worth sharing.
the three ways in which we found most of our clients early on and I used to look for people who are hiring web developers because I figured these are people who need web developers and there is a rather small number of people when you think about the billions of people on Earth the number of them that hire web developers is really small and there’s a lot of overlap I should say that the people who offshore web development into a subset of that community so what I would do is approach them in a helpful way I’d say you know that you’re looking to hire somebody on site but if you would like to have more flexibility and the benefits of at least offshoring if not all the work that you doing some of the work as it gives you the flexibility to expand and contract because any development project is going to have. A greater need in the early stages when you’re building application initially especially when you’re a web startup you need a good sized team to get the application out there and built and then you need to focus more on marketing in growth and so you don’t necessarily need the same number of programmers. And programmers are expensive. So I have a core team on site and then use a more experienced company to help get the core team up to speed and then once you once you build initial project you can refocus your costs on marketing and reduce your team size without any without having to lay people off if you work with us and that resonated with enough startups to get us enough work. The other way that I was looking for new work was by being helpful. The New York tech meetup community was one of the the rapidly growing communities. The meet up was focused in New York and meet up itself started the meet the New York tech Meetup. And so I went to New York as I had a couple of clients there that attended in New York tech meetup meeting physically and joined the mailing list. I would strongly caution against just trolling these kind of mailing lists looking for work but by meeting them through people who are already members and then concentrating most of my efforts on the list at being helpful I was looking for people. Not people who are looking for programmers offering to to do work for them but looking for people with questions that I could answer and just generally being helpful constructive member of that community I got a lot of work as well.
I think being helpful as a business strategy is a good idea being helpful as a characteristically human being is a good idea. Being helpful it is is not just good for the person who hoping but she is good for the person being helpful because at the end of the day you feel more satisfied with what you did with your life and if you want help I don’t see any downside of being helpful and it’s very nice to hear of a situation where that public spirit in this turns into Dolars or Zlotys whatever kind of currency you count your wellbeing.
The best sales tactics and the best marketing tactics or to give something valuable that you should charge for free which you were doing and you can now automate a lot of this online which is what I do and then people say wow. The free stuff, free advice, the free help is this good and what’s the paid stuff like and that’s a great strategy. The key is giving without expecting in return and then things start to come back but if you’re given a manipulative way like right away I need something back I think that’s that’s when people’s sense that and run away. So you obviously did it the right way.
If Krakow all our listeners community people being weirdly helpful than blame Paul Klipp.
It’s a great strategy. I mean everyone’s mother I’m sure has been the like this the whole life in a very helpful without asking for anything in return. That’s just a great life strategy. But applied to business and specific way. Paul you were I think you’re very well known for a lot of things you know the Ruby Rails on Rails movement here in Cracow which Base and a lot of other companies came. Poland or Krakow specifically became known for that programming language expertise. But the other one is agile. So talk about agile, that movement your role in it and how you’ve seen that grow and you can also talk about the ACE conference and explain that to the people who might be wondering what that is.
Sure well I have I mentioned earlier that I jumped into project management with both feet and started from a very traditional approach to project management and initially it was very satisfying for example I would talk to the programmers at the Lunar Logi in The States and ask them about what they were doing and how that worked, what needed to be done in order to achieve their goals and compare that with the client’s goals and then map out the critical path and get estimates and all the parts and put them all in Gantt charts. When I started putting these huge Gantt chart all of my walls people started saying uuu and aaa, this looks like structure this looks like like like clarity and so initialy it was very satisfying but after a while I started to discover that after that it did that initial clarity is very much an illusion. The best thing to do with the paper that estimates are written on is not to read it and believe that. It’s more useful in the smallest room in the smalles room in the house. The way that we were building software was fundamentally flawed success that was based on 4 pizza and and 8 pot of coffee all nighter is the day before the release in such is not sustainable and they’re part of my job and I think the fair part of a lot of a project managers jobs becomes explaining why deadlines are missed and explaining why budgets are exceeded and such just because we take this thing which is a very constructive and creative act which requires a great deal of collaboration and we we break it into pieces and assigned areas of responsibility when indeed it’s very much a team sport and nobody can take whole take complete responsibility for the outcome without high degree of collaboration and I kind of missed it. When Kentbex first book on XP came out I read it I didn’t entirely understand it wasn’t until the scrum movement started that agile became understandable simple enough for me to wrap my head around. All I knew was that I didn’t like my job as it had been previously I did like did not like the job of hanging over people’s shoulders and asking them what they were going to be done. Of asking people to estimate things that couldn’t be estimated and then demanding that they tell me why they were wrong. Of making excuses or accepting blame when things didn’t go right and playing a kind of intermediary between technical people and clients because one of the things I learned as a non-technical person working closely with technical people is that the fundamentals of the creative process of creating software can be understood by a non-technical person and technical people are perfectly capable of communicating and interacting with other humans. There’s two to fax fly in the face of traditional assumptions that that technical people are are antisocial geeks who can’t speak English and that what they do is completely incomprehensible to the non-technical mind since I had learned that this was possible. Scrum was basicly very different idea which is that we’re all in this together is mostly a learning experience and the best way to do that is to learn together and share responsibility throughout the process based on trust and transparency and communication and to me what it meant is that I’m not solely responsible for being the intermediary between these two fundamental aspects of the project. The clients and the the development team and that it doesn’t have to be about promises and blame it can be about collaborative created activities. When I had the opportunity to do any things anyway that I wanted to when I was running my own company we started immediately implementing scrum by the book. Poorly at first. But over a period of many years we learned to do it very well.
Success that was based on 4 pizza and 8 pot of coffee all nighters the day before a release is not sustainable. A fair part of my job…becomes explaining why deadlines are missed and budgets are exceeded.”
There may be some listeners who don’t know what Scrum is. We have all kinds of people listening, this may be the first episode. Could you in a couple of sentences describe scrum ?
Scrum was one of the first approaches to agile software development which was clear and simple to understand and implement and fundamentally it says that software is built by a team and that everybody involved in the software development process is a member of the team and so rather than having a lot of roles it has very few. Everybody involved in the software developement process is either a product owner which means one person who is responsible for representing all future users and the business needs. So that there are numerous people putting different demands on thesoftware development team. A scrum master is a specialist in understanding how scrum is supposted to work to act as sort of a coach and a mentor. And the team and that all of these people talk together on a regular basis. Specifically they talk every single day in what’s called a stand-up meeting in which everybody else who’s a few questions about what they’ve been doing, what they plan to do so that everybody is always on the same page and that everyone plans together and that everyone shares and successes at the end of each release and that rather than trying to plan a huge project all upfront its built-in small iterative time box. Time box means that you commit in advance that over a period of one week over a period of two weeks to over a period of 30 days the team is going to focus only on completing a subset of work. Now I’ve since founded there are better ways for many teams to work then scrum which is one of the reasons why I started a company that builds a product for doing things in other ways Kanbanery supports a combined approach which does away with the fixed time iterations and is more focused on how to maximize. How you flow values through the system and how you maximize the clarity of information to everybody who has an interest in it but this is where I got started. Agile to me means a different way of looking at building products by recognizing that any kind of a new product development is a creative act done by a group of people who have to collaborate and trust each other and communicate throughout the entire process.
I picked up one thing I remember when Paul was first explaining to me he said that every day there’s a meeting and during the meeting people say what they did yesterday what they’re going to do today and the role of the project manager is to deal and what’s getting my way. Any barriers and the role of the project manager is to just deal with the barriers. It’s just that I am a great fan of daily planning and a great fan of a very very simple concepts to make people productive innovation. This was fascinating for me and canba is the basis of the Japanese manufacturing miracle. Toyota, the famous for being the company that led canba. I don’t know if it’s actually true but it’s famous for it. Toyota do their best. I think 400 or 500 percent more productive than the american car company who invented it. Henry Ford is an American so the japanese imported american ideas, revolutionized them and now the rest of the world works to a Japanese standard. ‘m very interesting your ideas about what Krakow is going. On where technology is going but let Sam ask that question is his way.
Well, Paul again as a as a new member of the community. Relatively I’ve been here 16 months now and a historian by training which is another completely worthless degree right if you’re in the tech field as I like to point out. Some of the best technologists I mean Steve Jobs famously dropped out of college and just audited calligraphy and art classes in history and all kinds of the things that interest him. I think that was a great point that you brought up and one of the things that really strikes me about Krakow and one o the points i’ve made about this is of course the programmers are great here but I’m more interested in the musicians, the composers, the artist, the writers, the videographers.Where do you see the entire community here going ? Where we strong, what part still need to be developed ? You were at the beginning of this great movement that’s kind of emerging in Krakow in Poland more broadly so what do you see in general going forward the future of this ?
It’s really difficult for me to say because I saw a lot of change over the time that I’ve been here not nearly as long as Richard has been here but I remember the frustrations that were associated with even getting small groups of entrepreneurs to trust each other and share in the early days. These days all of those people with whom I used to work with the first attempts to get open coffee going and with the IT Small Business Alliance are all very successful and when I go to tech events now I’m seeing a much younger age of people who have a completely different mindset, a completely different approach to collaboration to work who see their futures differently than we did and so I think that even just a the ten or twenty year age gap between me and the people who first started trying to build an entrepreneurial community here and the people who are actually going to be building the entrepreneurial community – the future is so striking.It’s difficult for me to even get my mind around let alone predict. One of the big challenges. The second big challenge that we had after just collaborating and sharing and learning from each other and such was initially that there was one there is a lack of money for one there weren’t a lot of investors and investment opportunities for startups in Krakow and that’s changing we’ve got foreign funds taking an interest in what’s happening here we’ve got a number of other investment vehicles are now available to polish based startups. The other is that one of the biggest problems that Poland used to have in terms of technology start-ups is that even during the recession’s that plagued the last decade Poland was a consistently growing economy going was the only consistently growing economy in Europe and it’s a country of 40 million people which means if you’re starting a startup in Estonia you have to target a global audience because Estonia is not big enough to get rich off as a startup whereas in Poland you could target of Polish audience and build a rather large and successful comfortable company serving only the the needs of Polish internet users and that used to be the biggest problem we face but now when I’m talking to young entrepreneurs it’s very rare to see startups whose web sites are in polish that are thinking predominantly of dominating the Polish market. There also used to be a lot of people who were thinking about well let’s look at what’s working so what is working abroad and see if we can replicate that in Poland and so you had these knockoffs of fereign ideas. Let’s make a Polish version of ebay, lets make a Polish version of Facebook, let’s make a Polish version of classmates.com what have you. Now I’m seeing people thinking about innovative ideas that the world needs that they can contribute to create it so it’s a whole different group people thinking completely differently then me and my friends 10 years ago were thinking and I think the sky’s the limit for them.
And I think that’s true everywhere and the great thing is now, just a my previous interview was with the head of Campus Warsaw. the Google Campus Warsaw was talking about how well the community’s doing there and it’s actually is good for Krakow for Warsaw to boom. There isn’t this historic rivalry thank goodness has begun to melt away as people realize that you know if your neighbor makes a fortune, some of that will reach you. What about technology trends which ones are the big ones for you and obviously everyone thinks about mobile. There are buzzwords like the Internet of Things which quite often the buzzwords don’t identify what individuals think is the most important. What technology trends you think are the most important for project Project Kazimierz listeners for the next five to ten years ?And you’re allowed to be wrong.
I’m not guaranteed to be wrong I think and this is really just a personal opinion that we are going to see the death of the app that the end to the specialist product that will fix everything and that the technologies that are going to be shaping the future are going to be technologies that are more intuitive that are build more into people’s existing lives that replace multiple solutions or allow people to more naturally live their lives as opposed to the next coolthing.The next cool things are still popping up You see people get really excited over a pitch. I would like to say that that we finally cracked the social media thing we can stop now. It is not going to go away entirely but I think perhaps one of my hopes is the growth of design ethnography and lean UX and lean startup is getting innovators more in touch with the real needs and feelings and experiences of the people who they depend on to grow their businesses. So that we end up with a whole generation of more integrated intuitive technologies that don’t require as much icons on our phones and products scruded to our walls in such.
Very interesting I mean I’ve noticed the way technology is changing people like the way people socialize, the way people interact, the way what people do for fun.Its fundamentaly if you look at a bunch of teenagers or even adults or even older adutls at the city around the Ipads, sitting around the phone. Sharing experiences in a way that sharing is experiences that couldn’t be shared fifteen years ago because the thing that’s on the screen. I think the possibly the biggest change may be in people, rather than in tech. The technology is going to race away but it’s very hard to anticipate what people are going to want to need. If the people who want to meet the changing so I think there’s a kind of interaction between people and technology which is quite unpredictable but I’m tend to be optimistic that these people get better and technology. They gonna foster that technology to what people really want. And it’s just what people really want it good for them.
Paul thank you very much for joining us I think we we’ve definitely got a lot for people to think about and the impact the TEDx had on Krakow’s ecosystem. How to take a really bad situation like death of Lunar Logic and Oregan. Rest in peace and make it into a global very successful technology company in Poland. Starting the agile movement here in Poland and also some future ideas and technology also your work in project management. Making that easier and better for the world with Kanbanery.Thank you very much for this. That’ve been very helpful to listen it. I know that everyone is definitely going get a lot out of it. Again thank you Project Kazimierz listener for joining us for another episode we have some great ones coming out in the near future so please go ahead and listen to the short break we have after this the conclusion of the show and we look forward to seeing you on the next episode.
Yes indeed if you liked the show please leave us review and iTunes if you hate it just send us an email. Thank you very much indeed.