TWT Zirkeltraining for Digital Finance – come and see!

On May 31st 2016 we will be holding a series of workshops @ TWT. It is called „Zirkeltraining“ (which means circuit training) and you can move from station to station to learn something fresh from our experts in the fields of strategy, insurance-to-go, omnichannel, and best practices.

I might also be at one of the stations, so feel free to register and tag along 🙂 There is also food and drinks for free!

DIGITAL FINANCE – LÖSUNGSANSÄTZE FÜR BANKEN & VERSICHERUNGEN

TWT Web Experience Lab initiated

At my job @ TWT we are currently developing a new way of checking the performance of our customers website or web application.

This is not a purely technical perspective on the site, but more a 360 degree analysis.

I will be providing more details as we get the first impressions from customer projects. Maybe you want to have your own site checked?

Until then you can find out more in our article (german) at the TWT website:

TWT entwickelt das Web Experience Lab

Stay tuned 🙂

Brain Dump May 2015

Learnings
  • Templates matter
    If a customer has templates that they feel at home with, use them! Sometimes you have to adjust your own way of thinking, but you’ll learn something and the customer will pose less problems. It pays to listen to the real needs of people.
  • Mise-en-place
    Staying in the preparation meme: the mise-en-place from kitchens all over the worlds holds an important metaphor for preparing yourself for the next day or the next todo or the next meeting. Think about everything that you need to have to be successful and make sure that it there. At the right place, at the right time in the right amount… I somehow think about mise-en-place when I prepare everything for the next day: putting the plate for making the kids breakfast, put the spoon next to the dog food, put the clothes for the next day on the cupboard, etc. It always shortens my mornings a lot. Thinking about where to use „mise-en-place“ in other situations.
  • Challenge ideas
    I often make the experience that talking to a colleague with opposing or different views helps me get clear on my own argument. Especially when preparing customer meetings or workshops, it helps tremendously in finding the best solution for the participants. It also help ins preparing for presentations and pitches as you can find out counter arguments before they are expressed in the real situation. If you have found someone who you can openly discuss your ideas with, be glad and treat him well 😉
Quotes
What are the brain dumps?
In the nohype brain dumps I try to clear my mind of all the stuff I experienced in a month. I do that primarily as a journal for myself, but maybe some of this information is also helpful to you. Enjoy.

Brain Dump April 2015

Learnings
  • Think High Level
    As I am an efficiency nut, I often struggle with effectiveness. If I take a step back and think on a higher level about the goals I want to achieve with a certain meeting or todo, it helps me greatly in structuring my thoughts and actions and actually achieve the goals. Ha! Who’d have thunk 😉
  • Focus
    Once you have figured out what you need to achieve high level, you need to focus on the outcomes that you need to achieve those goals. This is relevant for emails, meetings, agendas, phone calls, etc. When I don’t focus, I am pretty useless. So I know what to work on even further
  • Don’t ramble
    Get to the point quickly and convey the most important message. Don’t always try to portray every little minute aspect of the subject.
  • Holidays
    They DO work. I had the pleasure to be with my family in austria in a great wellness hotel. My mum invited us to tag along (all five of us). And I resisted checking work email or opening the laptop (well, most of the time). It greatly reduced my recovery and it was just great to read and sit still and eat well and enjoy the guilty pleasures of a wellness residence. I could concentrate on family and kids and I vow to continue this during the next vacations. I always thought that work email would be too much to handle coming back. But batch processing really helps and a lot of stuff just stopped being important to the senders.
  • Talk, don’t write
    A lot of the time it pays to pick up the phone or walk to a desk. Customers, Colleagues, Partners all profit from the direct contact and we should all use it more in our daily grind.
 
Links
What are the brain dumps?
In the nohype brain dumps I try to clear my mind of all the stuff I experienced in a month. I do that primarily as a journal for myself, but maybe some of this information is also helpful to you. Enjoy.

Brain Dump March 2015

Learnings
  • Keep it short!
    I sometimes try to cover too much and give too much information. I should really try to make my requests succinct and on point so that a decision can be taken swiftly. Especially in my day job as a team leader this is very important as a delay in decision making will almost always carry through the whole „chain of command“ and too much information sometimes makes decisions nearly impossible.
  • Always be skeptical!
    When we were younger, my friend Oli and I were publishing a Fanzine called „United Kids“ (yes, it was paper). On the back of one of the issues we put a quote by Andrew Jackson: „One man with courage makes a majority“. Turns out that it is doubtful he ever said it. http://articles.latimes.com/2007/jan/26/opinion/oe-feller26. This shows to me (again) that we need to check sources and be skeptical about all „truths“ that are out there, be it on the internet or in whatever media that is. And it reminded me of a saying that my history teacher always propagated: „the winner rewrites history“. It might turn out that there are more truths and perspectives out there and that there might be less „real facts“ than we suspect.
  • Use your existing tools!
    I have started to use my existing tools more intensely and stopped trying out every new fad that’s around. I re-evaluated what I wanted to do and accomplish and then tried really hard to only use the tools that I already possess. So far it works out quite well. It takes complexity away, it rids me of taking new decisions all the time and it turns out that the tools are really good 😉 You can find some of them in the Links section.
 
Links
  • Alfred2 including Powerpack. Really makes a difference in the daily use of my macbook. – http://www.alfredapp.com/
  • Things for action items and todo lists. I find it more straightforward than the checklists in Evernote. With the new iOS integration it has gotten even more useful. – https://culturedcode.com/things/
  • Evernote for references and planning. I keep my goals in there and have specific notebooks for various concerns. I also share one notebook with the family. – http://evernote.com/
  • Google Docs for longer documents and stuff I need to share with people who don’t have Evernote. – https://www.google.com/intl/en/docs/about/
  • Google Calendar for work and for family infos. This is in addition to our paper planner we have in the kitchen. – https://www.google.com/calendar/about/
 
Quotes
What are the brain dumps?
In the nohype brain dumps I try to clear my mind of all the stuff I experienced in a month. I do that primarily as a journal for myself, but maybe some of this information is also helpful to you. Enjoy.

Fascinating Read: The Current State of Machine Intelligence

I read an interesting article on medium about the Current State of Machine Intelligence. Even if I am a mere mortal developer who dabbles in web application development I can appreciate the intricate thoughts and the deep work that has to go into designing „machine intelligence“.

It is fascinating to see how many companies there are and what advancements have already taken place. Add to  that my rekindled enjoyment of „cyberspace“ novels by William Gibson, the subject felt natural to my current interest.

I doubt that I will ever grasp the complex nature of artificial or machine intelligence, but I will definitely try to keep up to date with what these companies are doing. And who will be bought up by „the big boys“ like Google, Facebook and Amazon.

Maybe I should take some courses and quadruple my income 😉

„Hacking debt“ – never stop tinkering

John D. Cook wrote an interesting brain teaser about „hacking debt“. Not to be mistaken for „technical debt“. He means that as a programmer you should make room for tinkering, learning and fiddling with new technology.

I fully agree with this notion and try to find ways in which we can integrate that into the daily or weekly routines. Any best practices that you know of (and no, please no 20% google time stuff…)?

http://www.johndcook.com/blog/2013/04/24/hacking-debt/

Preparing for the scrum certification PSM I

A few people have asked me what I did to prepare for my scrum PSM I certification. So I thought I’d share it with all of you at once.

First of all my employer TWT paid for a certification course from Itemis for my colleague Matthias and I. This was a two day course especially designed to prepare you for the PSM I certification.

To prepare for the course I read through the scrum guide. I also bought the book scrum – kurz und gut. I had read about 80% of the book before going into the course.

For a change of perspective I also read a book about being a product owner. This was very helpful in deciding how to prioritize the learning subjects. There was a lot of stuff I simply didn’t need for the certification. But it is helpful to understand the different perspectives in a scrum team.

After taking the preparation course we had 14 days to take the online certification test. To take the test Matthias and I studied all of our notes from the course and reread the scrum books.

I think the combination of the preparation course and the books on the subject were very critical for the success of our certification. We gained a lot of insight into the exam questions from the course and we gained a deeper understanding from reading wide about the subject.

So there you have it. Go on and get yourself certified as well.

Image via Flickr