Friday, 28 October 2016

Yulian Tonkin - personal development untour (24, 25 OCT)

“You either grow, or die”

It was cool. The stuff to share/remember/do…

Day 1: self-development
  • Use your body to study better. Use your voice when you read
  • Jump/move/stretch yourself to get energized and engaged
  • Emotions are controlled by movement
  • Surprise yourself
  • Be like a child/learn like a child/move like a child – let the curiosity create new experience
  • Change the container – move people around. Change/remove comfort zone

Find and achieve your mission / vision / goal
You have 99 days to try and achieve it. 3 days to find it. 3 days to organize it (strategy). 90 days – action / action / action. 3 days to analyze the experience and adjust. Commit yourself entirely.
  • Step 1: Clarity – find what your mission / vision / goal is – 3 days
  • Step 2: Strategy (saves time – compress years to days) – 3 days
  • Step 3: Action – 90 days
  • Step 4: Analysis - 3 days

Use your brain properly
  • Ask high quality questions – the skill to control your inner voice
  • We attract people possessing the same inner dialogue
  • The quality of the questions we ask our brain determines the quality of our life

  • Find somebody who achieved your dream well and investigate
  • Incorporate what you like from them
  • Who do you want to look like?
  • Who do you envy?
  • Who do you admire?
  • You see only stuff/qualities familiar to you
  • Your qualities are your basic characteristics – determine what you inclinations are
  • Your skills will achieve your dreams
  • You need to master your skills

Day 2: money
  • Think of money as soldiers
  • The soldiers (money) obey entirely and fulfil our desires
  • The soldiers (money) never sleep, never eat, don’t even exist
  • Accumulate soldiers (money) by saving at least 10% of your income

When one encounters Container / Environment, the possible actions are
  1. To change it
  2. To use it as advantage
  3. To ignore it
  4. To do nothing, but just complain how bad it is
  • Invest in only what you understand
  • Minimize the risk
  • Never bankrupt – divide your wealth and always have reserve
  • Use the other half of your soldiers to grow – invest wisely (property, land, loans)

Celebrate life – it is too short

“Nobody learns more than the person on the stage”

Video channel (in Bulgarian): Yuli Tonkin Youtube
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Friday, 20 May 2016

Startups, Entrepreneurship … and Agile

Last Wednesday I had the pleasure to be part of the Startup Founder 101 event ‘Meet Experienced Startup Founders’, and the two major speakers Viktor Bilyanski (Founder and CTO of Scalefocus) and Hristo Neychev (Founder & CEO, Tryad Games), shared their experience in entrepreneurship and startups.

Going over my notes here is some assorted key wisdom:

The reality is brutal - 95% of all new business initiatives fail to survive and die in less than 2 years

The most important for each startup:
  • Discover, believe in and communicate your VISION
  • Find an amazing CO-FOUNDER (really difficult)
  • MOTIVATION – keep going when you are rejected, and rejected you will be… a lot
  • Find your first CLIENT/INVESTOR

Starting up a new business is like staring a new project – it has a beginning and an end. And the time slot is really tight. You can always go back to the corporate business if it doesn't work out.

When you fail, you still acquire experience and memories. The successful entrepreneur started approx 10 startups throughout entire life.

What’s really great about startups is that you move with your own speed, you only have to convince your co-founder and then it’s a matter of minutes to work on new idea.

To find a great co-founder look for somebody close, somebody you know for years. Somebody serious, motivated and admirable. Most of the startups die due to co-founders divorce and/or team disrupts. And high pressure is going to increase the chances any of those happening… and high pressure there will be.

Fundraising is difficult and at the same time it is important for every startup to get money as quickly as possible. Somebody investing in your business is good not only because it validates your idea/vision, but also because the clock starts ticking and your startup must start delivering. You all become more disciplined… and discipline you will need.

Your prototype, your product, your numbers worth more than the raw idea in your pitch. The investors will invest in your team and the execution not your idea. They want to see a successful team – members to have successful tracking records.

You pitch on vision or numbers and it is much better to pitch on numbers. The successful pitch would outline two major points:
  • The TEAM - who are you; how successful are the team members so far; what is the endurance and the sustainability of the team
  • TRACTION – how many users/clients do you have; what is the trend; clients profile and sustainability

Angel investors will invest in 1 out of 40 startups presented to them. Venture capitalists will invest in 1 out of 400. If you have rich friends/mentors try them first.

Coming up with an idea you might follow a process like:
  • Set FRAME/ VISION/ the window of opportunity / the market
  • And then use standard creative process, e.g. 'brainstorming'
  • VALIDATE your ideas fast – use paper; Excel and simple tools to prototype fast

Persistently look for feedback – involve users/clients and improve, discard and innovate.

Most of the startups aim for online business because it is easier to scale online.

The biggest challenge is to define and develop your MVP. It needs to be good enough for your market but at the same time it needs to be built quickly to be validated. Be careful in B2B – you cannot afford to show not-polished product.

Do not hesitate to interview people about your product and expected price, but the only validation for the price happen when real purchases are made.

If your startup product is some sort of a service, keep in mind service offering companies do not scale well and depend on their founder too much. Try growing from service to product business.


So far so good… but where is the Agile part?
Everywhere… I have always admired startups as they are the truest possible embodiment and validation of the Agile philosophy. Deliver sooner than later, empower teams, embrace the change and be lightning-fast in adapting, continuously improve and deliver, eliminate waste, collaborate well, promote innovation and bow to enthusiasm – all the major principles are followed relentlessly – and it is pure joy to watch and/or be part of.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Auto innovations in 2015 + EU/US statistics

as presented during the recent retrospective:

Tesla Model X (~80 000$)
  • 0 emissions
  • 500km travel
  • 5stars safety in each category
  • Free charge
  • Expensive
  • Longtime recharge
  • Not enough recharge stations
  • (38 000$ for the model S in 2017 foreseen)

Tesla Model X infotainment
  • 17-inch LCD touchscreen
  • The NVIDIA Tegra system on a chip (SoC) integrates eight specialized processors, including a multi-core ARM CPU, a GPU, and dedicated audio, video and image processors. Nvidia claimed that it consumes 2% of the energy of a typical CPU.
  • Uses Linux - Ubuntu

2016 Toyota Mirai (58 000$)
  • Hydrogen – emits only water
  • Only in California
  • 500km travel
  • Refuel in 5min
  • Free fuel for 3 years (15 000$)
  • Tax reductions
  • Expensive
  • Few hydrogen fuel stations

Google driverless car ~ expected in 2020
  • Laser range finder
  • Front camera
  • Radar sensors
  • Ultrasonic sensors (wheels)
  • Software to combine data
  • Looking for auto partners to produce the vehicles and mass production
  • Legislation is an issue

Porsche Mission E ~ expected in 2020 (cluster instrument)
  • OLED technology 
  • Eye tracking system cluster instrument
  • Charging by simply parking over coil embedded tile – 15mins

AUDI TT 2016 (cluster instrument)
  • Display resolution 1440x540px at 60fps  
  • Tegra 3 NVIDIA CPU


In the end, the top auto models sold in EU and USA in 2015

Cars sold in EU
Make & Model
Volkswagen Golf
Ford Fiesta
Renault Clio
Volkswagen Polo
Opel / Vauxhall Corsa
Ford Focus
Cars sold in USA
Ford F-Series
Chevrolet Silverado
Ram P/U
Toyota Camry
Toyota Corolla
Honda Accord

Proudly most of the automotive manufacturers presented in the charts are clients of Continental AG and the teams I work with deliver the software for the cluster instruments.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Scrum good practices and hints #01

Continental Timisoara

Recently I’ve participated in the Continental’s CDS department strategic workshop for 2016. The topic of Agile & Scrum development has been heavily discussed, and I am providing some of the points as a reminder of the good Scrum practices.

Formulate sprint goal
It is difficult to do so, when the sprint backlog is full of non-related stories. Nevertheless combining stories into epics and themes and committing to them into one sprint brings value. Not only the stakeholders have clear message what could be expected after the iteration, the team also feel focused and united under the same goal.

Prepare the review on the planning
During the sprint planning - acceptance criteria need to be present for all the user stories and it should be clearly communicated what would be demoed over the sprint review in the end. The topic is again - visibility and transparency – what could the stakeholders and the product owner expect in the end?

Grooming preparations
It is inevitable that some teammates are busy and do not have time to look at the product backlog before the grooming session. The situation has to be avoided. Everybody should come prepared and at least should have rough idea of the stories that are to be groomed.

Limit the task granularity to a maximum of 1-2 days
It is a good practice and the reminder came from the Romanian colleagues. Just putting a generic ‘development’ task and estimating it to 60 hours (10 days) doesn’t help with the transparency, right?

Write comments to the user story in JIRA regularly 
Usually the comments in the tracking system come in the end when the story is completed. This practice does not really help the product owner during the sprint when information about the progress is needed.

Exchange teammates to share good practices
This one has been discussed for quite some time. It happens that team members of one team work together with team members of other team for some days but it’s not really a regular practice. And as there are different products, it is challenging to change teams understanding new expertise has to be acquired.

Do not skip the ceremonies
The Scrum ceremonies should not be skipped. And it is not because a guru, trainer or the scrummaster say so, but because they are valuable. Skipping ceremonies indicate teams do not see the value of them and is there should be a reminded session why/how the ceremonies help all of us.

Keep the physical board updated
I am a big fan of the physical Scrum board. Although JIRA/Trello/Asana/Rally/Orange are commonly used somehow the magic disappears online and the vibe is much different when there is a physical Scrum board. Both physical and online boards should be updated daily, either in the end of each day or during the daily standup in the morning.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

The coaching (improvement) circle model

‘What a beautiful day’ I remember Gerard O’Donovan saying about the last cloudy and rainy Sunday in Sofia. And the day was beautiful indeed, mainly due to the very well prepared and delivered coaching training by the Noble Manhattan experts.

Gerard presented a coaching model I would call ‘improvement circle’. It is useful to coaches, leaders, managers and individuals and supports improvement of a specific task or activity. The ‘improvement circle’ works by identifying issue or task to be improved, then describe the best possible performance, retrospect the good and not-so-good when it was executed before, and consider details to change in the future. Only one list of paper divided into 6 boxes is needed to do it and it takes roughly about 30 mins.

Box 1 :: I ask the person to think about a specific task, issue or problem he/she would like to work on.

Box 2 :: should describe the best possible performance of the specific task or the resolution of the problem. The questions to ask there are
  • Picture and describe what the good execution of the task is?
  • If somebody looks at you – what would they see when you perform well?
  • What are the elements you would do well?
  • Write down a couple of adjectives to describe your performance?
  • The last question is more of a checkpoint ‘Is what you described your best possible performance?’, and if not, go over the questions again.

Box 3 :: looks into the past to find out what worked well. Good questions are
  • What worked well and what supported your last good performance?
  • What specific elements you were really happy about?

Box 4 :: focus on potential elements to improve. The questions to ask are
  • What did you do, that you could have done better?
  • Was there anything you did or said that you would really want to do in a different way?

Box 5 :: is about lessons learned and focus on the present
  • What did you learn so far?
  • What is the meaning of the lessons for you?

Box 6 :: is all about actions in the future. You may ask
  • Looking at what you have written so far – what would you do to improve your performance?
  • What would you like to do differently in the future?
  • And the last question is another checkpoint ‘If you act on your findings, do you believe you would improve next time?’, and if the answer is negative then the boxes 3,4,5 and 6 have to be rethought.
Have tried the model a couple of times and it works well, especially for simple tasks or issues without dependencies. The crucial part is that as per usual coaching session the coach should not provide any answers or ideas, it's up to the coachee to define the issue, think about improvements and commit to actions. The more complex scenarios require commitment and actions from the other participants too and definitely would propose we try with the teams over the next retrospective sessions.