5 Easy Questions for Luke Hohmann

On this blog I have published interviews with Steve McConnell, Johanna Rothman, Alistair Cockburn, Scott Berkun, Mary Poppendieck, Grady Booch and several others. Everytime I ask the same five questions, and everytime I am pleasantly surprised by the answers I get.

Luke Hohmann is the author of Beyond Software Architecture: Creating and Sustaining Winning Solutions, listed at #55 on the Top 100 Best Software Engineering Books, Ever. Luke is the Founder & CEO at Enthiosys Inc., and he's a committed coach, working with individuals and organizations to achieve greater levels of performance. You find Luke at: www.enthiosys.com.

These are the five questions I asked Luke, and the answers that he gave me…

1. What has been the toughest challenge in your past?

I think there are two kinds of challenges – discrete and continuous. Discrete challenges are those obstacles that, once identified, we can either overcome or fail trying. Success in these challenges gives us reason to celebrate; failure gives us an opportunity to try again or choose a different obstacle. I’ve overcome and have failed at a variety of discrete challenges.

Continuous challenges are those that are always with us because they are a part of our life. Maintaining a work-life balance. Finding time to stay fit. Managing the time I want to spend with my wife and children and weighing it against the seemingly endless demands of my business (including answering these kinds of questions!). Success in these challenges just means that we’re managing to find the right “balance” in complex equation whose variables may be unknown and whose outcomes are uncertain. Failure in these kinds of challenges can be pretty catastrophic.

I find the continuous challenges the most challenging.

2. What is the main source of inspiration for what you do?

My clients. We love helping them solve their problems and realize their goals.

3. What activity should be on every manager's daily list?

The following activities should be on everyone’s daily list, regardless of organizational role or title.

Work really hard.

Work so hard that you leave work exhausted. Every day.

Work so hard that if you were running a marathon you’d puke as you crossed the finish line, with a big smile on your face because you knew that gave everything that you could and that you truly, genuinely, and thoroughly realized the best that you could be.

Ignore people who tell you “Don’t burn the candle at both ends.” They mean well, but, when I hear that kind of advice I can’t help but wonder if this person have ever truly enjoyed being consumed by their work. Listen, instead, to that voice inside you that when you find your passion begs of you to cut the candle in half and burn all four ends.

Pull an all-nighter every now and then.

Give in to the greatness that’s inside you and your team.

And when you get to whatever you call home, leave work at work, because you know you gave it your all, and give in to that same focus and intensity with your family.

4. What can we learn from you in the near future?

You’re going to see me and my team, along with our customers and millions of others, continue to push the envelope on how Innovation Games® can transform your life. Originally designed for small groups of people collaborating in the same place at the same time, we’re pushing the envelope in such areas as:

  • Scalability: We’ve now played games with more than 500 people in the same place at the same time. It was an amazing experience. You’re going to see more in-person exploration of large-scale collaborative play.
  • Joint Game Design: We’ve typically worked with one client to help them solve their problems. However, the complexities of the modern world of software means that many solutions must successfully co-exist in the same environment. Our first joint game design will involve NetApp and SAP. We’re preparing for a few others.
  • Online Games: We’re creating online versions of many of our games. Our first online game is Buy a Feature online, with others soon to follow. In the process, we’re exploring new kinds of interaction models, creating new forms of market research, and perplexing some very clever mathematicians who are finding traditional approaches to understanding collaboration inadequate to explain the data we’re seeing.
  • Online Gaming Platform: We’re going to be creating a platform for collaborative gaming, and we’ll be inviting others to help us change the world by putting their games on this common platform. We have some ideas for the services for this platform, which we’re sure will change and improve over time through experience.
  • New Games: We continue to explore new games and new interaction models that enable people to solve tough problems.

One of the greatest outcomes that has come from putting our games online has been learning how people use our games to solve problems that we never thought of solving. The creativity that our customers are showing in the games is really quite remarkable. I can’t wait to find and share these with the world.

5. What is more interesting than software development?

My wife. I love talking with her and getting her perspective on life.

My kids. I have four of them, and each of them is special.

The “people” issues of software development (which was the topic of my first book, Journey of the Software Professional).

And while there are a LOT of things I find interesting other than software development, I must admit that I continue to find the technical aspects of software development wonderful and fascinating.  At present my job doesn’t allow me to “get my hands dirty” with actual code – something I miss, and something that one day I hope to be able to do again.

Well, these are the answers given by Luke Hohmann. I hope you liked them!

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