5 Easy Questions for Myself

On this blog I have published 15 interviews with leading software development authors & thinkers, including Ron JeffriesMike Cohn, Scott Rosenberg, Grady Booch, Mary Poppendieck, Steve McConnell, and Scott Berkun. Next year (meaning in just a few days) I will start a new series of interviews. This means that the "5 Easy Questions" series will hereby come to an end.

Someone (sorry, don't remember who) suggested that I should answer the same questions myself as well. What a great idea! Tormenting myself with my own 5 easy questions seems like a very appropriate way to finish this great series.

So… these are the five questions I asked myself, and the answers that I gave me…

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

That's an easy question indeed… I had to learn how to deal with how people think about me.

When I was growing up I noticed I was, in many ways, different from most other people. Others were socializing, while I preferred to be alone. Others were consuming (movies, TV, going out) while I had a greater desire to produce things (drawings, code, writings). And guys were checking out girls, while I was checking out them. There were times I was so lonely, I honestly thought I was too weird, and that nobody in the world would ever like me.

It took me years to learn that I can change how people think about me by changing my own mindset and behavior. By being open, relaxed, funny and interested, I noticed that people were able to like me, despite (or even because of) my weirdness.

These days I think that being weird and unconventional can even be an asset. Just think of it: the most expensive coffee in the world is made from cat shit. And the shit I post on this blog, produced from my distorted mind, is (according to some) becoming more and more valuable.

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

Science and me. Science, because the whole world is our playground, and the sciences explain to me how the world works. Me, because reality, facts and theories can only have meaning and value when they are perceived by a (subjective) mind. And the only mind I am able to work with is my own. Therefore, the way my mind filters, organizes, transforms and uses the information it gets from reality, is my own source of inspiration.

If you think that's weird, see question 1. (There might be a chance you like me now.)

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

I'm still in the middle of trying to figure this out. There are probably lots of things to put on that daily list. But the one I'm struggling with right now is always trying to answer the question: "What will I gain when I spend my time on this?" I'm talking about setting priorities, time management, return on investment, etc.

If I could copy myself ten times then I'm sure each of my copies would be just as busy as I am now. I want to achieve as much as possible, while preventing any unpaid overtime. I think you can only do that if you're asking yourself that same question (virtually) every minute of the day.

Which makes me wonder… why the hell am I doing my own interview now? What will I gain from this? Hopefully I find that out while finishing this thing…

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

Well, I'm still trying to write a book. (And I will tell you more about that later.) But the main theme of the book and my blog is how managers can learn to manage software development.

I wrote earlier that I hope to find out what the laws of software development are. I think Agile, Scrum, XP, Lean, CMMI and all those other methods, frameworks, and models are simply different viewpoints. But you cannot describe software development from just one viewpoint. Just like there's not one scientific discipline capable of describing the whole world. I'm trying to look further into this matter, and I hope to write a lot of interesting blog posts about it. (And if not, then at the least I hope to have entertained you.)

5. What is more interesting than software development?

To me the whole is often more interesting than just one part. The whole of the world is more interesting than just one country. The overlaps and intersections of all sciences are more interesting than the details of just one. And (to me) the difficulties of managing a software development organization are more interesting than the troubles of one single project.

That's why I often try to look further than others, and expand things to cover just about everything. It's also why, when people come to me with their tough little problems, I usually end up talking about beehives, phase transitions, selfish genes, and evolutionary stable strategies. (And then they give up and just solve their problems by themselves.)

Well, this concludes the 5 Easy Questions series. I hope you liked it!

Afterword: I finally know why doing my own interview was valuable to me. I understand myself a little better now.

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