Stories Connecting Dots with Markus Andrezak

Stories Connecting Dots by Markus Andrezak tries to discover the many different ways businesses navigate in an environment of change. Stories Connecting Dots versucht die unterschiedlichsten Wege zu entdecken, auf denen Unternehmen erfolgreich mit drastischem Wandel umgehen..
RSS Feed Subscribe in Apple Podcasts
Stories Connecting Dots with Markus Andrezak






All Episodes
Now displaying: 2017
Dec 12, 2017

Episode 14: Christopher Avery - The Responsibility Process


This episode is quiet. Quiet and deep. I am happy that Christopher Avery took the time and explained the Responsibility Process to us.

I will let Christopher explain it in the podcast - the topic is complex, deep and sensitive. He's much better in this than I am. I think it is important to try to wrap your head around this model which might change your understanding of responsibility from a model of blame and shame to a model of freedom to choose and to be conscious.

Some quotes from the podcast

"We've been taught that to be a responsible person, you have to give up your impractical ambitions and do something more practical"

"How are you?" is an awkward question for Europeans, we tend to answer. Here is Christopher's reply to the question:

"How are you?"

"I am free, powerful and at choice, thank you!"

"Conscious choices on repetitive behaviour do have effect.

Central ingredients to the Responsibility Process

"Intention, Awareness and Confront!"

Which answers does the responsibility process bring for teams?

"A team to really be called a team is when a group of people rise to the occasion of shared responsibility"

At ca. 1:01 Christopher comes up with a great summary of what responsibility means for teams.

"It's not so much that we divide accountabilities, it is more that we feel aligned and integrated as a unit towards something".

"For us to be successful, we have to actually get past accountability processes and get to the place of real time communication around shared ownership for something bigger than myself."

Work Life Integration

"Work life balance is a metaphor of scarcity. I prefer work life integration, which means that <i can be same person all day long. It means I don't have to put on a suit of armour and switch between roles"

A different programme

As an interesting observation, Christopher is offering a programme which is 100% clear to be free of recipes and all the work needs to be done by you on your own and applied to yourself.

On requesting change

"The next time you get upset at people who won't change, think about the last time you changed yourself".

On commitment on outcome

"The more I have practiced responsibility, the more I focused on the means and let the outcomes go. Because I can not control every outcome. But I can control whether I did my best. Whether I did my best thinking. … I can't control all the outcomes, but I can control what I do towards making an outcome happen."



Oct 27, 2017

Welcome to the first Episode of the second season of Stories Connecting Dots.

Shenzhen Life

Listen to Peter Bihr, telling the tale of Shenzhen, where hardware is software is hardware. And everything is hardware is software is hardware. And where cycle time is close to zero. Shenzhen is a place where you can go and order anything from ideation on your product to a 3D print in industry quality and all of that in days rather than weeks or months.

"The future is already here, it is just not very evenly distributed" - William Gibson, of course, 1999

Listen to Peter help us understand what this means and what the consequences are. And what we can learn from it. As a side aspect, understand the role of WeChat in China and how a future of a platform-that-integrates-everything already exists.


Join us onto this little excursion into one of the futures that are already present. And not just as a Gibson-eqsue Blade-Runner-like-fantasy but in the real world and in cinemascope.

References and background

Peter's written report on Shenzhen: View Source Shenzhen

A flickr album (hey, flickr! - still around!?) on Peter's travels to Shenzhen.

Ben Thompson (of Stratechery fame) writes on the magnitude of integration of WeChat (which is beyond imagination to our culture)

Scotty Allen] on how he "made his own iPhone in China" - just a great idea and video on the fringe of what's possible in tech today. Also great Shenzhen impressions. A must watch.

And of course, Peter Bihr is The Waving Cat for work. Reach out to him. He is just great.

If you want to get more into hardware and the IoT, join [thingscon], the conference that Peter helps to organise and roll out globally.


Thanks for listening to this episode. If you liked, please spread the word and leave a 5 star review on iTunes. If you have complaints and suggestions, please give me a nudge! I love it!


Jul 23, 2017

Peter Bihr - Ethics for the Internet of Things 


I was thinking for a long time on the title of this episode. No one short title would be enough.

Peter Bihr does so many things in so many flavours. If you live in Berlin you would need to live under a rock not to be aware of some of the things that Peter is part of. I am happy to know Peter since years and whenever we meet, we have these great conversations on whatever topic. 

Peter, since ages, is writing about the impact of technology on society. His instincts brought him to the topic of ethics in the Internet of Things.

That lead to getting to know the community around the Internet of Things, which again led to organising the first Thingscon in Berlin. An epic experience in starting a conference, low on budget, high on energy and even the attention of Bruce Sterling. 

During the conversation, you will hear a lot about how Peter sees the world. And as I did not choose Peter by chance, you will hear a lot of things on

  • how to start things off
  • how to open things up for a larger community 
  • how to be inclusive
  • how to have impact as a person or a small boutique
  • how to work in early phases once things are in genesis so that your impact may still be there when things grow to utility

But my favourite sentence remains:

"Sometimes simply not being a dick is good business" 

Regarding not being a dick: Here a major publication by the Thingscon world: 

"Thingscon Report - the state of responsible IoT"

And, yes, Peter also founded a small fashion business with his wife - Zephyr - which is all about clothes you can wear at work and at home in great, high tech fabrics which can take outdoor and sports abuse but don't look awkward at work. 

Many of the things I mentioned read like being general. I am sure that, after listening in, you get an insight on how you can mover the needle and how much you can influence you can have on your environment. How Thingscon was created and became a huge global thing is just one of the examples.


  1. 00:00:00 The Retreat
  2. 00:04.26 Introducing Peter Bihr
  3. 00:10:00 Thingscon emerges
  4. 00:18:17 Getting Things going and opening doors
  5. 00:27:00 Letting the community scale Thingscon 
  6. 00:33:00 Ethics in the Internet of Things
  7. 00:48:00 How a data protection initiative made it to the big corps 

Random Chapter Notes

1 - Introducing Peter Bihr

Peter as the accidental inbound marketing guy - how publishing creates the jobs you want: From writing and expertise to great jobs.

Working on topics you are convinced of, staying true to your own moral compass can simply generate events, opportunities and finally jobs and money. 

"Once you have a stage to offer, it's a more fair deal to ask for someone's time"

2 - Thingscon emerges

Peter had been following the internet of things before the name was there. Out of it emerged the Thingscon - a huge success of a conference and meets all over the world. 

Another thing that emerged out of sheer interest. Listen how.

"We just set it up on a super short time frame. Which is the only way I could ever commit to such a thing. If I thought through the consequences before, I'd never commit".

"(once it's made public) it also gives others a chance to come out of the woods and be part of it. Because: a lot of these things happen in at millions of places at the same time. … "if someone puts a flag in the ground, all these people come out …"

Getting Things going and opening doors

"I thrive on group dynamics and a certain amount oaf ambiguity".

"We try to be inclusive, we focus on diversity"

"I could go to a conference and easily spend a whole day no talking to a single person. But if you're the host, you have a totally different mandate. In my mind, it flips a switch …"

and finally: How to keep the spark alive by putting trust in the community

Letting the community scale Thingscon 

Extending and letting go.

How the ignite model (treat them as adults) contrasts with the Ted X model (tight boundaries) and what emerges from it.

"I enjoy going to conferences and prefer seeing something that totally breaks the mood and that may spectacularly fail in interesting ways rather than seeing a polished rehearsed talk"

Ethics in the Internet of Things

Solutionism of IoT = Solutionism of HTTP ^2

Why early phases are good starting points for entrepreneurs and small boutiques. 

"Political science and economy was explicitly designed after the second World War to be put into societal benefit"

Why working in early stages may even pay off in utility.

"When you join a new team, try to be humble and try to be a zero" Chris Hatfield

How Uber is a net loss to a whole network of parties.

"All of our networks are schewed towards value extraction"

How a data protection initiative made it to the big corps 

"Those small things can have a big impact because one person owns them and takes them to a big company. But also, sometime you won't notice until years later."

"But I think it was potentially dumb luck" 

"Just not being a dick is actually good business"


Photo credits:

Picture of Peter Bihr by Nina Zimmermann on flickr 

Picture of Peter Bihr and Markus Andrezak by Markus Andrezak on the go


Jun 26, 2017

This time my guest is John Cutler. He is the hardest working man in product business. At least he is the hardest and most writing man in product business. since ages he writes, thinks and muses about things he observes and wonders about in what we see as our jobs in product work.

John might actually really be one of the hardest working men in our business. On top of writing on a nearly daily basis, he has a plain normal day job. Well, what’s normal. He is Senior Product Manager for Search and Relevance at Zendesk.

Asked how he gets all of this done, he says he needs it. He says, he accepts mediocrity in his writing to get anything done. That’s close to the things Denise said in the last podcast.

What I really love about what John writes is his (in the best sense of the word) pragmatic and un-ideological view. I see this in many people who still have a day job. Not being connected to and being reliant on consulting and methods and marketing sometimes helps bring things to the point.

Not only does John write a lot, he writes good stuff as well. A couple of months ago he wrote a blog post on feature factories, places where we don’t feel the impact of what we are doing. Listen to how that came about and how we take that topic to more interesting insights on how innovation in product might soon occur in unexpected places.

And now, please join our chat! Have fun!


  1. 0:00:00 Why and how John writes such a lot
  2. 00:08:58 Context and tensions in the product world
  3. 00:11:44 How the most common sense things can be useless in a different context
  4. 00:18:15 The common thread in John's writing and viewpoints
  5. 00:21:52 Tangible vs. digital products
  6. 00:26:50 The huge story of the feature factory and what we learned from it


Chapter Notes

00:00:00 Why and how John writes such a lot

"I am a pattern matcher .. I go through my pattern library"

"The first thing I had to do was to accept I wouldn't get it right every time"

"It starts with an emotion in lots of cases"

"I like to ask why! when I was in school, I was part of a performance and my costume was a question mark on the top of my head."

00:08:58 Context and tensions in the product world

"I think as product professionals one of our core skills is understanding the fitness landscape."

"When I think of hiring, the no. 1 thing I look for is 'does the person display a strong ability for sense making and understands systems thinking and how things are fitting together'?."

"You know, systems thinking can be a bit of a curse, too … there's the 'why-askers' and there's the 'shut-up-and get-this-shit-done-people' and you need this balance between those things."

00:11:44 How the most common sense things can be useless in a different context

"When we put up a large portfolio board, all the frontline engineers immediately loved it, as they could see what's coming down the line. When the first executives saw it, they resisted, they actually wanted it to be taken down."

"You have to be yourself. Because if you're trying to not be yourself - unless you're really good at that - you gonna be less than yourself."

00:18:15 The common thread in John's writing and viewpoints

"I like all the crazy diverse engineers that I work with, the UX folks I work with, I like the hackers, I like the problem solvers, I like the designers. And if there's one theme - I guess I have a point of view - I think we make better products that way."

"It was actually a satire on how people can act like they let their team participate while they're not. Like: tell your team that you build an MVP to iterate on it and then don't iterate on it. And you'll steal their soul. Or take credit all the time without mentioning the team. Or: organise a hackney for one day so that everybody feels great for one day and then get back to work."

00:21:52 Tangible vs. digital products

"It's a service ecology. And when I say that I like that, because I think products may be like touch points. But if you think about it, I think that this might bring back the idea of craftsmanship. The idea of being people again and again. … And I think that many designers … there is something beautiful about delivering the thing … and I value this idea. But what I also love is to see this thing evolve."

"And often designers and other people see agile development as a curse. They think that this is antithetical to delivering a wonderful experience. And meanwhile I see it as an amazing opportunity. The problem is not to reduce the complexity in your product, not to make it a Frankenproduct. But it doesn't need to be that way."

00:26:50 The huge story of the Feature Factory

"No everybody wants to take the adventure the same way"

"I think we do junior product people and people working in this a little bit of a disservice by training them on the highly transactional type of work in exclusion of some of the systems thinking stuff."

"A feature factory is an environment is optimised for output. -and which is optimised for output over understanding if those things work."

"It is optimised for output but on a human level you're not sensing the impact, you're only sensing the cost."

"An interesting problem is rapid growth. Let's say the problem you're trying to solve requires 160 people to work on your particular problem. … If you want to copy Spotify, what you should copy is to get Agile coaches in. … What I love about Spotify is that they say they are bad at big projects."

"We've moved past custom and genesis type efforts. We're in the product/commodity era. And so the innovation might come in other dimensions to do that. And, again, it always comes at a cost.


Oops, the ending sounds like more and it seems we have to explore a little bit more at some time on how different stages of genesis, custom, product and commodity require different vectors of innovation. So, let's see and hope that there will be more on this in the future!

This chat really was a fun experience and incredibly easy to edit. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. And I hope this also made you a little bit hungry for more!

And I also hope that - if you didn't know John before - what I meant with pragmatic and un-ideological. But I also see these statements as so so including and inviting.

If you enjoyed this episode as much as I did, please recommend us, send us feedback on any of the channels we are available and give us that review on iTunes and whatever helps us to reach out! I hope you listen again in a couple of weeks, when it's time for episode 12!

Jun 6, 2017

Episode 10 Denise Jacobs

This episode is on doing your best work and how creativity supports that. Really!

My guest today is Denise Jacobs.

Denise has her roots in Project Management and Software Development. Denise’ first book was a bestseller on CSS and she made a speaking career out that profession. But then, something happened, she got bored and was looking for a new challenge.

Denise decided to become a public speaker and a „real“ book author on the topic of creativity. Until then, Denise spent years in teaching creativity techniques and exercises as well as giving keynotes on the topic. She discovered that there is an enemy to creativity in all of us: The inner critic.

Following that insight, she focused on that topic and now, in June 2017, after years of research and practise, her new book will be published: „Banish your inner critic - Silence the Voice of Self-Doubt to unleash Creativity and do your best Work“

What I found extraordinary in this book is that it is not about some tree hugging might work fantasies, but that it is grounded in brain research and psychology. A book full of stories, exercises (creative doses and insights that will help you do your best work.

Show Notes

0:00 Intro and the book will be published

9:09: „The matter of the fact is that nobody is going to be able to say what you have to say. … Nobody in the world has your experience, … your knowledge, your combination of experience and knowledge. … You are a unique confluence and expression of life. Past, present and future: Say it. Say what you gotta say!“

13:15 „It’s better for something to be done and exist and to be something that you can put in front of people and take on a life of its own than to have something that is always in the state of you trying to make it perfect.“

14:00 On the value of early feedback on imperfect work

„I got to a point where I would share drafts that were like 55% with my editor, which was something I was extremely uncomfortable with. I didn’t even know you could do that“. „In many ways it was like a validation of my ideas. … It also helped me to see which parts were irrelevant and which parts were relevant.“

22:56 Turning fear into curiosity to be more creative

„Maybe there is a way that you can reframe it (feeling unprotected, feeling exposed) so that it’s more like curiosity.“

„I still think that if you can take it to a place where you’re doing something and you’re not attached to the outcome, you’re more curious about how you can make it better … and it’s more like a discovery process than a testimony of who you are or your skills and capabilities.“

25:30 Creativity as a vehicle

„Creativity is really just the vehicle, but the outcome is getting to that place where you really feel empowered in you work and other areas.“

„It’s about how to become a better contributor, a better collaborator and a better leader.“

31:00 Researched foundations of the book

„I don’t say you should practice mindfulness because mindfulness is a good idea. Mindfulness is a good idea, because all these studies have shown that mindfulness treats conditions like depression, it treats conditions like compulsive obsessive disorder and it actually helps people rewire their brains …“

38:20 „I need more. I needed to know why this works. I knew this works. But I needed to go deeper. I needed to know why.“

43:00 Ideas revealing themselves & Creative Doses

„Good ideas fade into view“ -Steven Johnson, author of „Where good ideas come from“

On the importance of repetition of creative doses (creativity exercises): „Those thought patterns that for the inner critic, you have though them over and over and over again. And to change them, you have to practice.“

„The point of this book is for people to work better“

„And the porter interesting thing is that (in business) people try to act like business relationships and personal relationships are completely different“.

„And I’m like: You are talking about people and you are talking about thoughts and you are talking about emotions and you are talking about people interacting. I don’t care what the context is. This is about people and relationships. Period.“

1:04:50 Becoming Denise Johnson

„Actually, it wasn’t ok!“

„And then I read „The Artists Way“ and that lead me to making soap. and then a coworker came and bought a bar of soap from me and I thought „I guess I’m selling soap“. And then people started asking me „how do you make soap?“ … and so I had a group of five people over at may house to show them how to make soap. and I did that a couple of times and I thought „What about when I teach 20 people how to make soap?“

„And after that (first soap workshop) I felt like 3 feet off the ground. It was THE BEST THREE HOURS!“

Getting there: Going through the experience of self doubt for years … and then a night of flow! „It was the first time I didn’t think this isn’t good enough. … It was the first time I just did it. …. and this was when I was thinking: it was because I didn’t have these thoughts that I was in this flow! And that was when I had the realisation that I want to help other people feeling like this.“


Denise Jacobs
The book: „Banish Your Inner Critic

Steven Johnson
His book „Where good ideas come from

May 14, 2017

I am incredibly happy and proud to have Jan Chipchase as the guest of this show! I have followed Jan’s work and steps since years and years.

Then, he was first the Executive Creative Director of Global Insights at frog and then Principal Scientist at Nokia. For me, it all started when I wanted to get deeper into understanding how I can learn about the clients that use my products. When guessing wasn’t enough and guessing how to get closer also wasn’t enough. I sucked up all the writing and presentations by Jan, that I could find in the Internet. For years, I (we!) had to guess how he is doing things and were impressed by his decisiveness and his uncompromised search for exploring the boundaries of what he (we) knows and how he approaches extending that knowledge through experiences.

He pushed the boundaries of field research and goes to where the potential clients of his clients are: From the streets of Tokyo to the highlands of the Hindu Kush or small towns in Zimbabwe. He does that with what he calls Pop Up studios.

Now, finally, after 6 years of work he has funded his next book - The Field Study Handbook - on kickstarter. And he has done this with huge success but much more with lots of experiments - again - and the most interesting kickstarter rewards, like a walk on The Hindu Kush with him or a three day mountain retreat.

Also, beyond owning, managing and driving his innovation and research consultancy, Studio D, he „discovered“ his own luggage brand - driven from the requirements of his road work. This company - SDRTraveller - now also, has transformed from an - as he says - expensive hobby or side line project - to a business.

Please enter with me, the world of Jan Chipchase, and learn how he helps companies discover what to do next, drive their organizational wisdom and how he makes all this his reality - in places ranging from San Francisco, Tokyo and Berlin to Tajikistan and Afghanistan.


  • 00:00:26 Intro - Those Projects
  • 00:11:04 Organizational Wisdom - How to figure out what to do next
  • 00:19:14 The Art & Science of those projects
  • 00:28:17 What can we learn from remote experiences on the edges
  • 00:32:17 Many ways of doing research - from light to intense
  • 00:36:59 Finding people for those projects
  • 00:40:01 Creating a luggage brand: SDR Traveller
  • 00:45:30 The Field Study Handbook

Chapter Notes

00:00:26 Intro - Those Projects

„(Our clients) normally have a lot of data at hands that reveals what people are doing and how people are doing. And what we provide is the Why.“

„I personally want to push myself and part of that is taking me into places that I am less comfortable“

„Something I learned a while ago: If you are the first person to go into a place and start to ask questions, you can have a disproportionate impact, because the learning curve is really steep. I love to be in that environment where I know little and have to get a lot done.“

00:11:04 Organizational Wisdom - How to figure out what to do next

The cone of possibility - the sense of where an organization is now and what it thinks is possible in the future.

Work on the fringe of the cone of possibility: „Turning a hunch into data into information into knowledge into insight - and that’s typically what that first phase of a project is.“

„A really great project will turn that insight into organizational wisdom“.

„Sometimes the highest accolade for such an early phase of a project is that people say that it’s common sense.“

„And then, of course, common sense changes over time“

„What we as a studio do, is make them understand (the things) they can not measure.“

00:19:14 The Art & Science of those projects

„How do you structure projects so that every one from the CEO down to the intern know they will come away from a project knowing they experienced something they won’t experience again in their life?“

„And everyone who was in it will become an advocate …“

„The science is understanding how humans absorb information and energy levels and all these other things. And the art of it is when to step away from process and let things play out.“

00:28:17 What can we learn from remote experiences on the edges

The example of understanding money transactions on mobile devices in Zimbabwe.

00:32:17 Many ways of doing research - from light to. intense

„There are many different ways to figure out what to do next.“ „Everyone who sells a process without trying to figure out what the client wants is an idiot, frankly - or is a traditional consultancy.“

00:36:59 Finding people for those projects

„Two people flying in, hire a local team of 10 in three cities, then bouncing between these local teams - that’s a fairly typical setup."

„In my experience, I only need one local I trust to build up a local team.“

„I would hope that pretty much every person we’ve hired over the years, we could go back to and they’d be comfortable continuing to work with us.“

00:40:01 Creating a luggage brand: SDR Traveller

"The trigger for it was: I was on a trip to Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. And the piece of luggage I had, which is their really nice ArcTeryx bag: Two people died to steal it and every single boarder crossing I went through they searched it inside out. And I said: OK, I ant a piece of luggage that people ignore and does the job.“

„Ultimately I created an absolutely minimal Duffle called the D3. … It is designed to be ignored, fundamentally. … when people see it, we want them to dismiss it.“

„We started the brand three years ago, and then last year ago it transformed from an expensive hobby into a business.“

„We have a bunch of products that are quirky, wonderfully quirky.“

The story of the money bags: „We built the product based on a real need, and then we brought the product out there and it’s really interesting to see the people who buy that stuff. … it’s what you would imagine and then times 10 in terms of diversity of use cases and places.“

00:45:30 The Field Study Handbook

„With this projected, I decided I want it to take as long as took. I thought it would take two years. The whole project, what it took was six years. … it was for three years, every single day between one and eight hours.“

„And then, 2 years ago, I decided that I want to design the book.“

„This project was not about hitting a deadline. It was about taking as long as it took to get the job done. And recognizing that I will probably never be able to do another project like this again and recognizing that I should probably enjoy the moment.“

"And then Dan said I should consider kickstarter. And then two weeks before we did the kickstarter, we said, maybe should launch a kickstarter.“

„Two weeks before we hadn’t anything in place. … we created a bunch of rewards. I woke up, I think, at two am. I set the reward total two 22.000. We thought that would be right goal to aim for. I have to say, I never thought I will get the money to pay the book off. And that’s not ultimately the motivation. Then at 6am we pressed the button and started the kickstarter. Went away and had a coffee. Came back and 4 hours later we hit the goal.“

„The reason to work with kickstarter is really to learn how kickstarter works.“

„(The motivation to put artifacts out there) is really driven by the motivation to attract interesting conversations. Because interesting conversations lead to projects. And this projects then affect ten of thousands or millions of people.“

„(One of the rewards) is to sign up to a borderland expedition, which is to Tadjikistan. And if you’re maybe a little bit more on the edge, a reward is a short walk in the Hindu Kush. So: come with me to Afghanistan.“

„When someone clicks on that button that says „I pledge 10.000 Dollars“, really, they are committing to something that is far greater than merely a trip. And I’ve been through it myself and I understand the psychology of it. That process is in itself a thing that will shape who you are.“

Links to people, things and places mentioned Jan’s activities


Presentations & Articles by Jan

Now, with this being sad, if it is still before May 27 2017, I urge you to visit the kickstarter page of The Field Study handbook and see which reward you want to choose rather than if you want to choose any. Participate while it works. If you listen to this podcast later than that, I am sure there will somehow be a way to obtain the book. An epic like this deserves it.

In any case, take a look at the luggage by SDR Traveller and whatever might have triggered your interest. Also, the homepage of Studio D and Jan have great inspiring content, well written and enriched with awesome fotos, giving a great impression of what is possible.

If you liked this episode, please don’t forget to share my podcast, send me feedback or give me that five star review on iTunes!

If you are new to this podcast, have a look at the older episodes. There are some gems amongst them.

Thanks for your interest and hear you soon! Markus

May 7, 2017

Episode 8: Stefan Roock und Henning Wolf / it-agile und die Geschichte von Agil in Deutschland


Episode 8 ist für mich eine ganz besondere und sehr persönliche Folge. Und das hat mit den Gästen zu tun. Ich habe die Folge mit Stefan Roock und Henning Wolf in den wunderbaren Büros Ihrer weithin bekannten Firma it-agile am Hamburger Hafen aufgenommen. it-agile ist für mich die Firma für agile Kultur, Methoden, Techniken und Transitionen.

Mit den beiden und ihrer Firma verbindet mich unglaublich viel: wir sind Kollegen, Partner und Freunde. Wir arbeiten zusammen, wir geben hie und da gemeinsam Trainings. Stefan und Henning haben aber als meine ehemaligen Coaches in der Transition von einen unglaublichen Einfluß auf mich, meine Arbeit und meine Leben gehabt, der bis heute wirkt. Stefan hat mich - ein kleines Beispiel - zu meinen ersten Vorträgen überredet.

Diese Folge ist vor allem ein entspanntes Gespräch über die Zeit von 1995 bis heute und über das was im agilen Umfeld so passiert ist. Es hat sich natürlich angeboten, mit den beiden die so lange in diesem Geschäft sind, einen Rundumschlag und Überblick über das anzugehen was in der gesamten Szene und Bewegung in all den Jahren passiert ist.

Um das ganze ein wenig zu strukturieren gehen wir anhand von Büchern und Ereignissen zumindest grob chronologisch vor. Ein paar Muster habe ich erkannt und werde sie am Ende noch einmal zusammenfassen. In dem Gespräch streifen wir alle möglichen Themen angefangen von keinem Prozess, über Extreme Programming (oder was daraus gemacht haben), Scrum, Kanban, DevOPs, Kultur und Leadership, Transitionen und Skalierung. Es kommen die Möglichsten und Unmöglichsten Anekdoten zu Erfahrungen, erfolgen und Misserfolgen auf.

Ich will jetzt gar nicht zu viel vorwegnehmen! Viel Spaß mit dieser Folge und dem gesammelten wissen von Stefan Roock und Henning Wolf.


  1. 00:02:38 - Jahre 1995 bis 2000
  2. 00:29:52 - Jahre 2001 bis 2005
  3. 00:47:38 - 2005 Ops und Produkte spielen eine Rolle, Disziplinen spalten sich ab?
  4. 00:52:04 - 2008 Transition bei beginnt, wir drei lernen uns kennen, lustige Anfänge
  5. 01:08:28 2009 Kanban, David Anderson, Don Reinertsen
  6. 01:21:58 2009+: Fokus auf Produkt: Luke Hohmann, Roman Pichler, Lean Startup
  7. 01:31:53 2011 Continuous Delivery, DevOps
  8. 01:36:48 2011 bis heute Skalierung; SAFe, Less und Anderes
  9. 01:49:34 Ausblick: Wie geht es weiter mit agil?


00:02:38 Jahre 1995 bis 2000

Erstes Scrumpaper Das Wort agil gibt es noch nicht Viele machen noch Rational Unified Process oder andere schwere Prozesse, nur ein paar arbeiten anders. Alls war „wir coden". 1999 „Extreme Programming explained" erscheint

00:29:52 Jahre 2001 bis 2005

2001 XP Buch Roock und Wolf

Schwaber Beedle „Software Development with Scrum"

Schwaber „Agile Project Management with Scrum"

Erste XP Konferenz, Sardinien, Italien - Gepäck geht verloren, man sitzt nass in den Konferenzräumen auf Sardinien Erste XP Days Deutschland

00:47:38 Jahre 2005 bis 2007 Ops/Produkte spielen eine Rolle, Disziplinen spalten sich ab?  

„Man kann doch nicht erwarten, dass die Leute in 2-3 Wochen etwas erreichen wofür 12, 15 Jahre gebraucht haben"

00:52:04 - 2008 Transition beginnt, wir drei lernen uns kennen, lustige Anfänge

Eine Menge unreifes Scrum.

„… wir haben uns in Projekten belohnt mit Storypoint, z. Bsp für Bugfixing. Mein Gott, hatten wir Velocity."

„Rezepte": Es war klar, dass man das macht, es gibt interne, die Feuer fangen mit denen man arbeiten kann. Es war klar, wer die anderen sind, mit denen man reden muss. Der Kunde hat nicht die Idee, dass die Coaches da sind und die Probleme lösen.

Muster: „Transitionen sind dann erfolgreich, wenn sich interne Mitarbeiter in das Thema Einfräsen. Schwierig wird es immer, wenn sich solche Mitarbeiter nicht finden. Die Energie, die dazu notwendige ist, kann nicht dauerhaft von aussen zugeführt werden."

Change Modelle hatten wir noch nicht. „Wir sind da einfach reingestolpert. Ich habe mit allen möglichen Leuten geredet um mich abzustimmen. Ich habe ich ständig mit dem CTO häufig abgestimmt und fokussiert. Wäre das Warum nicht klar gewesen, hätte das wahrscheinlich nicht geklappt und ich wäre frustriert gewesen und mir wäre nicht klar gewesen warum das nicht klappt."


01:08:28 2009 Kanban, David Anderson, Don Reinertsen

Auf welchen Umwegen it-agile Kanban entdeckt und für sich entwickelt. Ein Stahlwerk spielt eine Rolle und ein großes Versehen.

Dissonanzen zwischen Scrum und Kanban. „So wie Scrum ein verweichlichtes XP zu sein schien, schien Kanban ein verweichlichtes Scrum zu sein."

Erste Kanbanschulung mit David Anderson in Deutschland.

Diskussionen mit der Scrum-Community: Ist der Schutz noch da,

Kanban vs. Scrum Tree Hugging

Kanban als Möglichkeit mit Operations umzugehen.

Arne Roock wird Mr. Kanban Germany und schreibt unglaublich viel, organisiert die erste LKCE Konferenz.


01:21:58 2009+: Fokus auf Produkt: Luke Hohmann, Roman Pichler, Lean Startup

Lean Startup March bei it-agile intern.

Feststellung: „Wir sind einem Missverständnis aufgesessen, dem viele aufgesessen sind, die damals das Eric Ries Buch gelesen haben. Wir haben das Gefühl gehabt, wir müssten unheimlich viel quantitativ validieren."

„Wir haben Adwords Kampagnen geschaltet und dann hat da keiner uraufgedrückt. Und dann weisst Du nicht was los ist. Gibt’s das Bedürfnis nicht? Ist Deine Lösung doof? Oder hast Du nur falsche Keywords benutzt? Wie lange muss man denn warten? Ist es schlimm wenn nach 24 Stunden noch keiner raufgedrückt hat? Sollen wir noch warten? … Was wir am Ende den gemerkt haben war, dass quantitative Auswertung viel zu früh ist und wir auf qualitative Auswertung umsteigen müssten."

01:31:53 2011 Continuous Delivery, DevOPs

01:36:48 2011 bis heute Skalierung; SAFe, Less und Anderes

Grund: Die Umgebungen in denen agil angewendet wird werden komplexer, große Teams und Teams von Teams arbeiten zusammen.

„Das größte Mistverständnis ist: Viele skalieren an der falschen Stelle. Wie kann ich 150 Leute binnen 2 Monaten agil kriegen? Aber das wann dann bekommen ist wahrscheinlich doch etwas mechanisch. … eine Tücke an diesem Skalieren ist, dass die Leute es ist so schnell wollen."

„In dem was wir gemacht haben sind ja auch eine Menge Techniken eingesetzt worden, die heute in SAFe drin sind. Aber sie sind eben nur da eingesetzt werden wo sie notwendig waren und nur so lange wie sie notwendig waren."

„Und das ist auch eine Geschichte davon, dass Du dienen Softwareentwicklungsprozess selber besitzen musst."

„Im Komplexen kommt man nicht drumrum dass man selber denken muss. Es gibt zwar Hilfestellungen, aber die eigentliche Arbeit muss man selber machen."

„Die einzelnen Entwicklungsschritte in den Firmen sind nicht nachzuvollziehen, wenn man die Geschichte der vorangehenden Schritte nicht kennt."

Skalieren Firmen an den richtigen Stellen? Sollten Banken eventuell alles auf den Kopf stellen und bei den Cobol-Systemen anfangen zu agilisieren?

01:49:34 Ausblick: Wie geht es weiter mit agil?

Alle Großkonzerne werden einsteigen. Management und Leadership wird eine größere Rolle bekommen und auch die Theorie darüber wie Transitionen funktionieren. Scrum geht dahin zurück wo es herkommt: Zur Hardware-Entwicklung. Es gibt eine zweite Welle der Agilisierung für die Bestandteile der Unternehmen, die nicht software-Entwicklung ist. Die kleinen Startups in Berlin als Feigenblatt werden nicht für immer für die großen Konzerne funktionieren. Wahrscheinlich muss man doch an die verkrusteten Strukturen ran.

Wrap Up: Ein paar Muster

Ein paar Dinge, die bei mir hängen geblieben sind und die vielleicht auch nur erzählt werden können um klar zu machen, wie zufällig vieles im Moment wirkt und wie klar es im Nachhinein dann doch sein kann. Und auch wie stark das mit den Erwartungen an einen eventuell industrialisierteren Beratungsprozess kontrastiert, wie es sie heute vielleicht oft gibt.:

  • In vieles snd wir einfach hineingestolpert und haben vieles einfach probiert.
  • An vielem sind wir im ersten Anlauf gescheitert und haben es erst im Laufe der Zeit herausgefunden
  • Im Nachhinein war alles klar und einfach.
  • „Transitionen" klappen besser wenn
    • der Grund klar ist
    • commitment zur Transition klar ist und nicht in Frage gestellt werden kann
    • auch wenn das „Wie“ noch nicht klar sein kann
    • sich interne Mitarbeiter finden, die für das Theme wirklich brennen und die Freiheiten haben das Notwendige zu machen. Dazu gehört es auch, immer wieder Unbequemes anzusprechen und zu diskutieren. sonst ist Verbessern nicht möglich.
  • Nichts klappt schnell, Eile im Umbau ist kontraproduktiv
  • Man muss den (Software-Entwicklungs-)Prozess selber besitzen. man muss selber nachdenken und die Arbeit machen.
  • Man wendet nur die wenigen Mittel an, die man gerade braucht und nur so lange man sie braucht.

Ein paar Links aus der Episode

it-agile, die Firma -

Stefan Roock auf twitter, Bücher von Stefan bei amazon

Henning Wolf auf twitter, Autorenseite bei amazon

„XP explained" von Kent Beck

Ken Schwaber bei Wikipedia

Kanban" von David Anderson, deutsche Ausgabe -

The Lean Startup" von Eric Ries -

Continuous Delivery" von Jez Humble -

Blog von Arne Roock, Stefan’s Bruder und deutscher Kanban Pionier -

LKCE Konferenz

Apr 16, 2017

Episode 7 - Jeff Patton - User Story Maps and the discovery of great products

Another one of the greats. I follow his work since years, I integrate lots of what he does in my work. Everyone knowing me or having had a training with me, knows what he does with Story Maps. But having come up with Story Maps and having written the first book around is „this little thing“ to Jeff Patton.

Jeff is really deep into product work and he has lots of thoughts to offer on Agile and especially on everything around stories and story thinking. And one of the reasons he knows all about that is because he was already there when it happened. He was in the same building with Kent Beck when Extreme Programming happened and Stories came up. He was coached by Rob Mee of Pivotal Tracker fame.

So, this is not just a deep dive on stories and the Story Mapping technique that emerged form it but also some oral history on how and where it all started to happen.

Nowadays, Jeff more and more dives into the discovery phase and at the end of the podcast we will hear lots about this and where this might clash with Agile or how it is taught in most cases.

But what is so relaxing is that we really don’t talk much process. And I think the reason is that product is much less process than it is orthogonal to process and it is about thinking of quality, what quality means to whom, for whom we’re building things and having empathy for them.

Speaking of empathy: Enjoy a nice conversation with a humble, humorous and relaxed Jeff Patton!


  1. 0:02:04 (User) Stories - the base of all
  2. 0:13:19 Documents are like vacation stories
  3. 0:31:43 Story Maps - what it is, how i emerged
  4. 0:43:10 How to teach Story Maps
  5. 0:55:34 Struggling with the backlog as a prioritised list
  6. 0:57:54 Products we like: A BMW 335 convertible, Netflix and Spotify, an EV 320 Microphone and a Sonos speaker
  7. 1:04:34 Why have (Agile) things gotta be so complicated?
  8. 1:11:44 Is software harder than software and: First off, no process is going to help you

Chapter Notes

2:04 (User) Stories - the base of it all

Going down memory lane, meeting lots of now famous people, e.g. Kent Beck

"People have gotten User Stories wrong from the beginning"

"When I first heard the term "Stories" I thought it was stupid - what we’re doing is important stuff. Stories  … that sounds like fantasy or fiction … it doesn’t sound serious at all"

"What Kent meant with stories was really stories. We should be talking with each other and telling stories about the products"

"The goal is building shared understanding"

"What we are talking about isn’t what to build. What we’re talking about with each other is: who’s using this product and why and what benefit they get. and understanding that we can then talk about together about what to build."

"Where things go horribly wrong is when people use stories and try to do what they used to do."

"So, people try to use stories as an alternative to other specification algorithms, when that’s not what they were meant to be"

How stories are not precise and complete

8:22 Comparing stories and UML The promise with UML was that you had to learn UML and then you had to talk to someone who knew UML. Stories fix all this.

"Stories fix all kind of crappy documentation. Because know we have humans to talk to to explain things"

"I keep telling people that if you’re using stories, you have to change your process" 

"The problem stories don’t solve is the way you specify. … If you’re using stories, you still have to figure out ways to specify."

"I think people write documents because they don’t like to talk to each other."

11:15 Documents are like vacation photos

 „The minute you write stories and hand them over without having a conversation, that’s the moment when things start to go wrong.“

17:14 How Kent Beck never called "stories" "user stories"

Rumors and misconceptions on stories and sizes and templates 

How somehow people and many Scrum Master are spreading the rumor of „we have to use (User) Stories all the way  

"The way Agile works is we build little things, and we work in short cycles. … But the problem is that when we build a product that is supposed to go to the market and create value it is not something we build in days."

"Those things we can build in a few days hardly have value and it becomes hard to tell a story about those things"

"I learned these things around 2000 and we called them stories and not user stories, and we didn’t use the term epic and you know, the user story template - we certainly didn’t use that."

23:14 How the founder of Pivotal Tracker, Rob Mee, was Jeff’s XP coach, refused using the template in his tool and now it does anyway: "I’m never gonna put that stupid template inside of Tracker … well, it’s in there now. And I’m sure not because Rob thinks it’s a good idea."

"But the template falls apart super easy. … The conversations we need to have are far more sophisticated than that."

"As a user I want just dumbs down all the rich conversations we need to have …"

The three (or five?) C’s of stories

Ron Jeffries 3 C’s: Card Conversation, Confirmation

"The conversation is not about the acceptance criteria but about Who, What and Why! … It’s meant to be a bit of a back and forth."

"What I see people doing these days is: Card -> Conformation"

Documents are contracts and with stories "we finally recognise that documents are never gonna be good enough, they’re never gonna be precise enough and what matters is understanding and the only way we get it is by talking to each other."

"Shared documents aren’t shared understanding" and that will make a lot of people uncomfortable.

31:43 Story Maps - what it is, how it emerged

A solution for breaking big things down that take weeks and weeks to build into little things we can build in days.

The metaphor of rocks that when you break them, remain rocks … just: little rocks. Just like big stories (no matter if you call them epics or not) that when you break them down just remain … stories.

"Story mapping is the thing that I used to do to get from a big idea to break it down into small parts." How story maps emerged from the technique called "User Task Model" over "Span Plan" (influenced by the Poppendiecks) to Story Maps (which name came up in a discussion with Alistair Cockbourn).

How Jeff wanted to write a huge book on everything outside of Agile, but then Story Maps took off and then the small book on story Maps got bigger and bigger.

A next book is planned. Jeff is not afraid, and still has lots to say. It’ll be easy. Ha!

Jeff’s book has three forewords. It reflects the mantra of product work, being credited to Marty Cagan, that it’s all about the intersection between valuable, usable and feasible. The three forewords represent that by having representatives from UX - Alan Cooper, development - Martin Fowler and finally product itself - Marty Cagan. That trinity is called a Core Team and is still widely used.

43:10 How to teach Story Maps

Two good ways:

  1. Simply mapping something live and lead discussions, conversations.
  2. Mapping a morning from waking up to getting to work, then let a group mix the individual morning stories and change it, because some strange event happened, like: Getting up too late.

These are ways that lets people focus on writing down activities rather than things or functionalities. Also, it makes obvious that different people behave differently. Further it teaches how to slice and cut things away, e.g. because there is less time than usual. some things can not be sliced out (morning hygiene) but need to be thinned out.

Maps are useful for still seeing the whole while we flesh out the small things.

"We need details when we go into the next sprint, but we still need to be able to see the whole. Because it’s the whole that has value. That’s the real value of a map."

An application in a workshop: Planning the first release of a wine shop.

55:34 Struggling with the backlog as a prioritised list

"There’s a lot of things I disagree with on how Agile gets taught and used and abused. One of the things I struggle with is the way it is taught that a backlog needs to be a prioritised list."

"If you think of a new product … it would be completely impossible to understand what it is … based on a prioritised list of features."

"It is so valuable to see the whole. And you don’t get that in a flat backlog."

"When you talk about parts of a thing, you normally need all of them."

57:54 Products we like: A BMW 335 convertible, Netflix and Spotify, an EV 320 Microphone and a Sonos speaker

Trying to find out why we like them.

For starters, the BMW is super impractible for where Jeff lives, as they have lots of snow. He still loves it.

Netflix now works for Jeff as a traveler, because downloads are possible.

"Why we encourage people to talk about why they like a product is because why you like a product has a lot to do with who you are."

"The toughest choices are not what features your product has, the toughest choice is who your product is for and the really hard choice is who your product is not for."

"If people really love a product, I always ask: "What did you use before?"."

"When you’re using a good product, you can sorta smell the thought and care that went into creating the product."

"That’s what I really worry about when we talk all about Agile and breaking things into little pieces … that we lose sight of who its for and that we lose sight of all the little things that matter so much … and start working about acceptance criteria."

1:04:34 Why have (Agile) things gotta be so complicated?

While teaching discovery (e.g. in 5 day immersion workshops), Jeff realises that people no longer know, see and have empathy with their clients, users, etc.

"We have to come with a lot of process junk and waste to help us manage what we’re doing when a little bit of empathy and understanding of who you’re building for goes a long way."

"In a lot of contexts it’s not easy to get to the customers. And to what you say, even if we could get to them, we don’t want to. It’s not comfortable talking to those people - and it’s unnerving sometimes."

1:11:44 Is software harder than software and: First off, no process is going to help you

When Apple had a problem with a new carrier, it was normal for a developer to linger around at the carrier. "At Apple it was not not unusual, no one was asking: why aren’t you at your desk? Why aren’t you writing code? It was absolutely rational to do that."

At a different spot:

Q: "If you think of Apple, on a range from 1 to 10 where would you put the quality they ship at Apple?"

A: "I’d put it at 9."

Q: "Where would you put what you ship here?"

A: "About a six."

Q: "If you were at Apple and you would ship a six, what do you think would happen to you? You ship 6 here all the time."

A: "We celebrate that we ship all the time."

Conclusion: "Something has to change around here that is not process"

"Everything is becoming more blurred all the time."

"The hardware isn’t even the hardware. It’s the software that’s changing it."

"More and more you buy a piece of hardware and it’s not like it’s in the box and the partnership with the manufacturer is done. There’s an ownership lifecycle that supports it."

"I was at a conference in Australia and the speaker right before was a designer at Lego. and he came up with that idea that they came up with that perfect Lego model that was really testing well but it was too expensive to build. And he said „you know how it is when the perfect solution is too expensive to build and we have to figure out something different.“ And the audience was quiet and the audience was „no, I don’t know what you’re talking about."

"I see so many people in the software world arguing for what’s best and not for what’s feasible and not understanding that it’s not about best …"

We have to learn again to prototype.

"And at times a prototype is more expensive than the real thing."

"What’s interesting is that Agile Development has gotten totally effed up when it comes to this prototyping thing. There is all this emphasis on potentially shippable software, there is this emphasis on software being built and tested, but look: we’ve lost our ability to use code to build rough stuff to see if we’re building the right thing."

"More and more I talk about learning velocity vs. building velocity."

"If you’re trying to learn something the most expensive way is to build production quality software."

"Building the wrong thing at high quality is waste."

„If there is gonna be a contemporary agile way of building things t’s gonna be this mix of product thinking and customer centric thinking and Agile thinking and I’ll be honest: It’ll break the Agile Manifesto."

Great final words

"What makes a product better is not more stuff, it’s good stuff."


Mar 26, 2017

What have the following things got in common? Weasels, the San Jose public budgeting process, bootstrapping, disposable software, games and mods of games, figure skating, and a Nike sprinter show falling apart after reaching the 100m line? Well, it’s Luke Hohmann they have in common.

I learned an awful lot from Luke. Years and years ago I attended one of his Innovation Games trainings and while I really really liked it, it took me years to realise what I really learned. For me, personally, this was the event that finally made me decide to leave the developing world towards the product or business side of the world. This event moved a switch in my head.

But what I really realised years later was that I really groked games, game design and above all, I had learned how to facilitate. Luke is so deep into „designing“ his games that never is it by chance if Luke stands, sits, is in the middle of the room, or in a corner or if he even tears apart some game thing that hangs on the wall. Even designing the simple name tags in the beginning of a class is transformed into a designed game, when Luke does it.

But Luke got carried away by the games he found. He bootstrapped an enterprise software company that produced a platform for playing a serious games framework at massive scale. Several thousand payers do not bother him. Scaling world wide also does not bother him. No problem seems to be deep for him to tackle. And this then led Luke to extend his activities to facilitating public budgeting rounds, which he started in San Jose. Also, he applies his framework to education. Who knows what’s next?

This interview really is a rollercoaster all over the place and also contains really personal stories on why Luke chose the path he chose and what led him. You can see from the show notes how far and deep we went. I’d really urge you to listen to the end. The interview gets even better as longer as we sat together. I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did and you learn much as I learned!


  1. 0:03:00 What are Serious Games, Innovation Games?
  2. 0:23:30 Applying Innovation Games
  3. 0:48:24 Scaling Innovation Games in several dimensions & Luke, The Entrepreneur
  4. 0:59:04 Personal Choices & the power of collaboration in wicked problems
  5. 1:32:22 Concepts - self application of games, disposable software, extrinsic vs. intrinsic quality, strategy frameworks as the next tipping point

Chapter Notes

0:03:00 Chapter one: What are Serious Games, Innovation Games?

What are Serious Games?

„You play a serious game not for pleasure but to have a business outcome. Innovation games are a collection of different games as we have different business problems to solve. A game has four components: (1) It has a goal, something you want to achieve. (2) It has a set of resources and rules and interactions, (3) it has a space or a field of play (4) a way to keep score Why Luke calls games frameworks nowadays.

10:52 The role of fun (or not) in Serious Games; Facilitating Games; (Designing) Games as a way to give permission

17:15 Details matter: A pencil without an eraser „If you want me to engage in the act of design, then don’t give me a pencil without an eraser.

18:20 Explaining the „Speed Boat“ game as an example, how it can be applied (e.g. as a technique for team retrospectives or identifying improvement potential in products. Games have the potential to de-personalize feedback and critique and thus make feedback more acceptable and actionable

0:23:30 Chapter 2: Applying Innovation Games

23:30 Scrum as a game and changing the rules of a game; Modding games is great and the goal; When you learn innovation games, you learn modding them

28:23 Modding Monopoly as an example why modding makes sense 31:18 Innovation games as a way to discover why and intent and why you don’t send bug reports to Richard Stallmann

34:12 Scaling organisations w/ Innovation games „It’s not the picture on the wall that drives behaviour, but it’s the picture in the head that drives behaviour. That means: You gotta change the picture in the head before you change the picture on the wall.“

35:42 Using the „Buy a feature“ game to discuss portfolios „Any performing executive team will always have more ideas than it is able to fund. So the question becomes „how to pick?“. So McKinsey has the following rules and you want to listen to McKinsey and not Agilists. McKinsey says: pass one - do ROI. Get rid of the projects that are not attractive for ROI - that’s easy. But you still gonna have too many. The second pass: Look at the passion and interests of the team. Now, how do we get to the passion and the interest of this team? Well, we have this game!“

39:28 Explaining great experiences is hard: „Reading about riding a bike is not riding a bike“

41:58 - An example of shrinking a portfolio of 38 projects to 6 „There is no way a human being can keep and compare 45 things in his head. I will do better then I put them on the board“

0:48:24 Chapter 3: Scaling Innovation Games in several dimensions & Luke, The Entrepreneur 

48:24 Scaling games to gigantic size: (1) Scaling for magnitude of the problem. From market research to internal use to use in agile organisations (2) Scaling the number of participants: From few in person to several thousand online (3) Scaling in industry, e.g. the Austrian Chamber of Commerce (Wirtschaftskammer Österreich) „Really, is my Scaling Agile book that I’m supposed to follow really more than 400 pages?“ „You’re reading these books on Agile and they’re anything but. It’s like I’m reading the top ten books on Agile and they outweigh me“

55:16 Entrepreneurship - building an enterprise software company without venture capital funding, Adventures of bootstrapping.

0:59:04 Chapter 4: Personal Choices & the power of collaboration in wicked problems

59:04 Getting personal - choices in life: Figure skating as first exercise in latching onto something without compromise. The way of the weasel. Latching onto something and sticking to it. Not chasing the easy way, but the only way possible. „So, yeah, I thought: I’m gonna live like a weasel for a rest of my life“

65:01 The power of collaboration - „I really do believe - and it’s not just Luke, it’s also my team and people like you in our network - we really do believe that collaborating teams are the best hope we have for solving the problems we face“ „Teams are everywhere, Teams are the foundation of our work in the future“ A list of books (links below): Team of Teams Team Genius The Silo Effect Exponential Organisations The Connected Company

1:06:51 Extending games to public matters, like funding and budgeting decisions for the public: Every Voice engaged foundation 1:11:16 Games in education, on the example of middle school 1:15:16 Not the easiest way to live, but the most satisfying. The Weasel way again. More examples by Luke and Henry Rollins

1:20:56 The importance of the support of others and support in success

1:25:33 „And So I’ve stopped talking to VCs“ and what Luke still learned from VCs

1:32:22 Chapter 5: Concepts - self application of games, disposable software, extrinsic vs. intrinsic quality, strategy frameworks as the next tipping point 

1:32:00 Self applying the cure to the Luke’s company so that everyone knows the experience to the companies’ benefit.

1:36:45 Disposable Software 1:39:02 Release quality, intrinsic quality, extrinsic quality

1:39:45 „They improved quality so much that they lost all innovation.“ „You know, the guy who built Flappy Bird, I don’t know if he had green bar automated tests. Did he have an automated production pipeline? CI/CD? No, I doubt it. He was just a kid having some fun. And he built an incredibly high extrinsic quality App. Now, I don’t know about the level of intrinsic quality … and the point is: It doesn’t matter.

1:42:28 Why the ideal Sprinter shoe should fall apart after exactly 100m

1:46:28 Strategy frameworks on the tipping point: The Ansoff Matrix - an early approach on strategy „As we move from physical labor to knowledge work - and we continue to move down knowledge work - these (strategy & problem solving) frameworks are the next tipping point and it’s really fundamental“

Links and Notes

Books and resources by Luke Hohmann

Organizations andPeople mentioned and more resources

Books mentioned

People mentioned 



Mar 5, 2017

Dave Gray - Liminal Thinking

To be honest, doing this podcast is the treat of all treats I am giving away to myself. Already in the small, tiny history of this podcast – this has been an opportunity for me to connect and re-connect to all these people who’s ideas and work are so important to me, mean a lot to me and really changed the way I think and work. And now, for this episode, I’ll talk to Dave, Dave Gray.

And there’s a funny story that connects me with Dave and I mean that literally. Years ago, I already read - and applied - Dave’s earliest book Gamestorming. And to an even wider degree I sucked in his book „The Connected Company“ - which I think is one of the most brilliant descriptions of the change that companies will have to face when they want to keep up in the … I don’t know how to call it … maybe, digital era. But really, while I loved these books, I did not know at all who Dave is.

One day, though, Jabe Bloom, now working with Praxis Flow, introduced me to Dave and suggested we’d have to talk. At the time, Dave was interviewing people for his new book. And so we met on Skype and talked. At the end, I asked Dave what the book will be all about and Dave said, he wouldn’t yet know.

And then, roughly mid last year, his new book came out and it stunned me: The book is called “Liminal Thinking”.

And from my perspective it is the distilled and abstracted learning of all these interviews that Dave took. Rather than explaining how people and companies have to change, what this book explains is how each one of us has to change and work on himself to have an impact on our environments. At least if we want to be happy at work, keep people happy at work, want to have the right direction of impact or … just want to be happy.

While being not the thickest of books, it is a read that I would recommend to take in small steps and really enjoy - and also take all the challenging exercises.

Dave is a guy of many facets. At the core, it seems to me, he is driven by finding ways to influence the world of work to be a better place. Since early on he was driven by looking for tools that help people to get a better understanding of what is going o around him.

Since being a kid he is working on visualization of context and he treated this as an art form. Along the way, he discovered games as a meaningful form of understanding.

In 1993, he founded XPlane, a company that helps companies to understand and, well explane, you guess it, mainly by ways of visualizing.


00:00:00 Intro

00:03:08 What Is Liminal Thinking

Punk & Rap & R&B; Thresholds; Transitions

00:08:28 Changing yourself to impact your environment rather than changing others

The dog story - The way you look at the situation influences the outcome; „We underestimate how much our beliefs about another individual tend to create the behavior we expect“

00:19:23 How Dave’s latest book „Liminal Thinking“ was conceived and written

It started as a missing book on Agile and become something different. The process of extending and abstracting the message (by extending the research)

00:30.13 The structure of „Liminal Thinking“ and why it works

00:34:32 How things that are good for you don’t always feel good

on the example of „Liminal Thinking“ being on the brink of nearly not being written at one time and the catharsis of re-re-revising the book again and again.

00:41:13 How Dave Gray discovered and developed the art form of visualization

and how that helps him and even drives and carries his own company.

“What we can draw is always ahead of what we can make. We have to be able to draw it before we can make it. Not everything that can be drawn can be created or done. But: If it can’t be drawn it can definitely not be done.“

„To me that (visualization) is my art.“

„The polite way to say NO is „sorry, I don’t understand that“

0:48:30 How visualization can help communication and overcome the effects of the telephone game in companies

and thus align companies over strategy and other concepts. The journey to visualize is even more important than the effect of having the visualization. Visualization helps communicate and come up with the right questions.


If you liked this issue, please make sure you give this podcast a five star rating or any other form of appreciation. Also, I am always happy for any comments sent to me on any of the available channels. Thanks for listening in and I hope to have you as my guest again for my next show.

Good bye!

Feb 13, 2017

In der vierten Episode bin ich zu Gast vor Ort bei [sipgate] in Düsseldorf und habe sie dort in Ihren Räumen in Düsseldorf aufgenommen.

sipgate macht Telefonie für zu Hause, unterwegs und das Büro. Und das macht es nicht irgendwie. Sondern sipgate macht alles selber. sipgate ist also eine kleine Telekom, aber eben vollkommen anders.

Das Interview führt von der ursprünglichen Geschäftsidee - Vorwahlnummern für Auslandstelefonate im Internet anzeigen - bis zur heutigen Ausbaustufe: Telefonie in allen Stufen selber bauen und anbieten. Dabei wird - hoffentlich auch bei Euch zu Hause - deutlich wie ein Unternehmen wächst und durch welche Stufen es geht. Von der Gründung im Studentenwohnheim, über das Schlafen im Büro und auch einmal nur noch 7000 Euro auf dem Konto bis zum heutigen, ausgebauten Produkt.

Wir beschäftigen uns natürlich auch damit, was eine Firma ausserhalb des Produkts machen muss und wie sie dem Markt gegenüber immer aufgeschlossen bleiben kann. Vor allem: wie schafft es sipgate in diesem Markt innovationsfähig zu bleiben?

Nebenbei hören wir auch, was eine Küche, ein Restaurant, [ein Buch] und [die Veranstaltungsreihe LeanDus] damit zu tun haben.

sipgate ist eine Firma von feinen Menschen gemacht und das führt direkten Weges dazu, dass es eine ganz Feine Firma ist. Im Gespräch hören wir aber, dass auch das nicht selbstverständlich, sondern eine ganze Menge Arbeit.

Wie gesagt, es gibt keine Abkürzungen!


0:00:00 Intro Aufbrüche

0:02:02 Genesis - Selbstanwendung, Daten eintippen, 19 Raucher und ein Nichtraucher

0:13:02 Einbruch und Neuerfindung - 7.000 EUR, Ein Schwenk / Pivot in 3 Monaten, Hyperspeed, all hands on deck

0:18:35 Radikales DiY

0:24:32 Regulierung, na und? - „Um Regulierung haben wir uns damals nicht so gekümmert.“ ; „Wir haben damals tatsächlich die Grundgebühr abgeschafft“

0:27:28 Aller Anfang ist … improvisiert

0:29:44 Fertig? Nö! Stabilisierung

0:34:22 Wandel und Kultur - nach einem Blick in ein schwarzes Loch

0:39:26 Richtung geben - Rollen ändern sich

0:44:00 Kommunikation überall Vorne bleiben

0:46:52 Gestalten bis der Arzt kommt - nach innen und außen

0:50:26 Das Restaurant - der Hub, ein Ferrari, unerwartete Effekte

0:58:10 24 Work Hacks - das Buch

1:01:22 Marketing und Sales - the sipgate way

1:11:14 Lean DUS - embrace

1:15:53 Ein toller Abschied

Die Geschichte von sipgate ist spannend und ich hoffe, Ihr konntet das so lebendig miterleben wie ich. Es ist schon beeindruckend, wie direkt und aus dem Leben die Phasen von sipgate waren und wie intensiv das alles gelebt werden musste.

Und das ist wohl auch der Unterschied zu einem Innovationsansatz „by the book“. Der Unterschied ist „skin in the game“.

„Skin in the game“ hat bei sipgate dazu geführt, dass sie genau die Firma gebaut haben, die sie bauen mussten, weil sie eben damit leben und glücklich werden müssen.

„Skin in the game“ hat auch zu unglaublicher Identifikation mit dem Service und Produkt geführt und in der folge zum Übernachten im Büro wenn es sein muss.

„Skin in the game“ sorgte auch dafür, dass eine Erneuerung des Geschäftsmodells (und der Technik) in Monaten erfolgte.

Und „Skin in the game“ sorgt bis heute dafür, dass man sich der Notwendigkeit zur Erneuerung ständig bewusst ist - und handeln muss.

Auch bei sipgate wird wieder deutlich, wie die handelnden Personen die Kultur definieren. Weil sie müssen. Die Gründer definieren automatisch, im Vorbeigehen die Kultur und im Nachhinein wird deutlich, welche Weichen sie gestellt haben um dorthin zu gelangen. Dadurch ist sipgate unverwechselbar sipgate und die Art und Weise wie geführt wird drückt sich in allem aus.

Genauso beeindruckend ist aber, dass man dieses Geschäftsmodell nur „entdecken“ konnte. Stück für Stück. Würde man heute hingehen und versuchen dieses Geschäftsmodell am Reißbrett entwerfen würde man scheitern oder seiner eigenen Arbeit nicht trauen. Den Telekommunikationsmarkt hacken wäre als Investitionsmodell kaum möglich oder glaubwürdig in einer Präsentation. Um das zu schaffen muss von Grund auf Pioniere werden.

Ich bedanke mich für Eure Aufmerksamkeit. Ich würde mich freuen, wenn Ihr Bewertungen und Kommentare hinterlasst oder über irgendeinen Kanal an mich schickt! Und genau so freue mich auf die nächste Folge in ein paar Wochen, die wieder ganz anders wird Bis dahin, Markus

Jan 27, 2017

Michael Foley, author of the bestseller „The Age of absurdity - why modern life makes it hard to be happy“ is the guest of this episode. The book is a celebration of insight from the most diverse philosophers, and an examination of the states we’d like to achieve and desperately are missing to hit. All his books center round deep insights around everyday life. Michael lives in London and since 2007 has completely devoted to writing.

In one of his latest books, he goes into depth with Henri Bergson, a french philosopher, who lived from 1859 to 1941, son to a Polish jewish composer and an Irish jewish mother. At the time he was one of the most influential thinkers and kind of pre-dated quantum physics, chaos theory amongst other topics n science. He also won the nobel price.

One of Bergsons many contributions was process theory. In a nutshell, process theory says that everything is in constant movement, there are no finite end states, everything is connected. While this may sound trivial, the consequences are overwhelming. With this model, Bergson lay the model for models that ended up being discovered by science only decades later. Statements of Quantum Theory, Emergence and Chaos Theory and lots more are such examples.

So, embrace yourself for an entertaining deep dive into what the process view is, how Bergson sees Emergence and chaos theory, what bottom up and top down thinking and approaches bring to us and how tension helps us to innovate and much much more.

Make sure, you also have a look at Michael Foley's books: „The Age of absurdity - why modern life makes it hard to be happy“ "Life Lessons from Bergson" and many more ...

What really keeps me thinking after this episode are two things:

1) How parallel and connected Michael Foley's world of thinking is connected to mine, although coming from totally different angles and professions.

2) How it is possible that a nobel price winner like Henri Bergson is so unknown today, after laying such broad foundations for philosophy, literature, science and much more. Incredible!

Chapters are:

  1. Intro
  2. Chapter One: Henri Bergson, his process theory and what it means for modern life, (non)determinism
  3. Chapter Two: Emergence and Chaos Theory: Is emergence crawling or also big bumps? Emergence and it’s meaning for agile. Emergence and innovation. The meaning of randomness and serendipity in innovation.
  4. Chapter Three: Bottom up vs top down: properties of approaches and combining them via feedback loops to create great systems
  5. Chapter Four: Tension is good for innovation; Tension and facilitation and much more
  6. Chapter Five: Process thinking and fun & comedy; petrification; Paying attention a means against getting petrified; Urge for the next thing, FOMO, Silo and specialisation as features of top down thinking.

Some statements from the interview:

Chapter one

Henri Bergson, his process theory and what it means for modern life, (non)determinism

"The first mistake is to think there is some final way of doing things, that can be quantified and written down“

"It is a different way of looking at things, which doesn’t accept any finality“

"Linear logic is a good way to develop technology but not helpful in understanding human situations and human systems“

Chapter two

Emergence and Chaos Theory: Is emergence crawling or also big bumps? Emergence and it’s meaning for agile. Emergence and innovation. The meaning of randomness and serendipity in innovation.

"We accidentally developed consciousness, which is our great blessing and our great curse.“

"We only recently understood the principle behind it (emergence), which is the feedback loop and the feedback loop is one of the most important concepts ever discovered in the 20th century“

"And the beauty of it is: it’s so simple“

"Everything goes round in a circle, there is no linear cause and effect“

"Life is the constant creation of the absolutely new, the unpredictable, the unrepeatable“

"Success and failure are emergent feature, I think. … What people like to think is that they control success and failure: when people succeed they think it’s due to their own effort. When they fail, they put it down to bad luck or fate or someone else’s fault.“

"The genius idea is to suddenly connect two things that haven’t been connected.“

Chapter three

Bottom up vs. top down: properties of approaches and combining them via feedback loops to create great systems

"It is a general tension, there is good things and bad thing about both“

"Basically everything started bottom up, through evolution“

"The internet is a great example for it (the interaction of bottom up and top down) "Bottom up is creative, imaginative, energetic … but it has no direction“

"Top down is very good for discipline and control and direction, but it has no energy or imagination - it tends to become fixed“

"Populism is the bottom asserting its energy“

"A mistake of bottom up is to think that anything new must be better“

"Flattery is the most important management tool“

"The bad news, again, is that people think flattery is easy … it is an art“ "Flattery is jut a tool, it doesn’t mean people are good or bad.“

Chapter four  

Tension is good for innovation; Tension and facilitation and much more

"Tension is what’s happening between top down and bottom up, for example“

"I think tension can be a creative force, providing the people can hold the tension in balance without trying to suppress the other parties.“

"... (if out of balance that can lead) to a violent relationship. so what you want is harmonious tension. Hard to achieve, though“

"Justice and merci, the demands of the individual / the demands of others, there is no answer to these things. They are tensions. they can be creative tensions if we hold them together and understand them and try not to let the one dominate the other too much. The trick is to hold them in tension“

Chapter five

Process thinking and fun & comedy; petrification; Paying attention a means against getting petrified; Urge for the next thing, FOMO, Silo and specialisation as features of top down thinking.

"Of course, it’s difficult. But then, everything is difficult. Life is meant to be difficult.“

"Philosophy is just about learning“ A

re products meant to make things easy? Easy vs. experience.

"… there is that tendency today that experience is about doing something new, going somewhere new, finding new people. We see this constantly in relationships too. People constantly want new people rather than understanding the value in the people they are actually with. So it’s a problem of potential. The world is obsessed with potential.“

"Q: Living in the moment is something we need to practice?

Michael: Yes, but I really got to hate that phrase because it has become such a cliché. We also have to stop using the word mindfulness. … I agree with the principle, totally. But it’s become a cliché.“

"Comedy could become the new mindfulness.“

"My theory is that play is the new fashionable thing, play is the new mindfulness.“

"The paradox is: you can detach in order to engage more“

"The essence of excellence is to make it seem effortless“

"I am working on a book that combines everything, that’ what I want to do. Not just philosophy, but fiction and poetry. … What I want to do is pull them all together in one strange book. … and it’ll never be published because my agent hates it.“

Jan 8, 2017

This episode is held in English language. My guest is Jeff Sussna, founder and principal of ingineering.IT. He mainly works in the world of operations and is a well known speaker all over the world in the area of DevOps. Surprisingly, he approaches this field with the tools of Service Design, Cybernetics and Promise Theory.

Using these ways of thinking, he also wrote a great book, „Designing Delivery“, in which describes the role and challenges of companies in the new world where brands and product development are dialogues.

In this conversation, we discuss the following topics:

- Services as a fundamental model of coping with a modern, complex world, in which companies need relationships and conversations with their clients.
- The role of Design Thinking and Service Design
- How Cybernetics can help us understand and decide in situations of complexity and uncertainty
- How the model of Promise Theory helps us deal with systems that sometimes fail or are incomplete and how this again helps us to live with the unavoidable circumstance of failure
- Thinking broad and embracing ambiguity and dealing with that through balance
- Discussions on mindfulness

Beyond all, what I really learned and appreciated in this interview was Jeff's ability to break down complex thoughts in easy to understand small steps, taking nothing as granted. Kind of like a good maths teacher.


 0:00:00 - Introduction

0:01:19 - When, how and why did Dev and Ops separated?

0:08:06 - Nostalgie of full stack dev and how we are facing bigger tasks because of the INternet’s success

0:14:01 - Jeff is not on the wrong end of the value chain with his topics, the whole company should embrace them

0:22:25 - Let’s have positiv impact on people, outside and inside of the company 

0:28:05 - Is „the family“ and „relationship“ a good metaphor for how we should work?

0:32:58 - Announcement of winners of Give Aways from Episode 1

0:34:27 - Jeff’s Book „Designing Delivery“ and the concept of services, Jobs To Be Done, are physical products easier than digital products?

0:47:09 - Design Thinking and Service Design 

0:55:27 - Cybernetics

1:01:04 - Portfolio and Feedbackloops as a Cybernetic Systems

1:02:13 - Promise Theory, embracing failure in computer and human systems, incompleteness of systems (also in maths)

1.11:16 - On thinking beyond, going broad and the power of serendipity

1:14:28 - Amiguity and Balance

1:15:11 - On mindfulness, your reaction defines the outcome, there are no shortcuts