Seeing through the religious fog

Warning this post can be interpreted as somewhat disturbing and/or offensive but this is not at all my intention, I’m just trying to be honest. So answer these simple questions before you continue reading:

Do you hate prejudice? Are you mature enough to look beyond others prejudice? If not you should stop reading now!

This year has been a fantastic travel year for me and my family, in February we visited Rome in April we visited Athens and as usual we went to Cyprus in August. These we’re all great vacations and they we’re all inside our family’s comfort zone.

SO to step outside of our safe and cozy comfort zone me and my wife Katrin booked a vacation to Egypt. For some of you readers out there Egypt will certainly not sound especially strange or outside of any comfort zone but for us this was the very first time in a Muslim country.

Instantly I made the connection as Egypt = Muslim country instead of Egypt = fantastic country with many cultural treasures. Why is that? I believe that as a westerner (and especially after 9/11) we’re constantly bombarded with a fog of information in the form of religion that makes us focus on the religious fog and not on the content. So when our family packed our bags we didn’t realize that we had also packed some prejudices like “You will most certainly get sick from the food served”.

Boy, I’m ashamed to say that my prejudices were all very wrong! And I must say that without any doubt our week in Egypt was by far one of the most memorable and best holidays ever, and nobody got sick from the great Egyptian food. Egyptian people are very friendly, open, loving, great business people and warm if you open up to them that is.

Unfortunately we saw some tourists that weren’t friendly or open for the cultural differences and they lost a great experience.

So why write this post you might say? Well I’m seeing a lot of the same religious fog in the software industry. Microsoft, Google, Apple all stand for cultural differences and religious fogs that make people in the industry claim that some solution is better then the other because of the company behind the software. I really beg to differ, there is good software, open software, friendly software and there is very bad software, hostile software exactly like people. There are good, open and friendly people in Egypt as in Sweden and there most certainly are bad people as well.

Don’t make things about religion or culture, look at content instead, I’m sure I will. As a former Microsoftee I’m carrying a lot of cultural luggage so from now on I will start to look into other continuous integration solutions like CruiseControl and Hudson, source control solutions like Subversion, Mercurial and Git and so on…what will you do to step outside your software comfort zone?

Finally I would really like to thank some people that really turned our vacation to pure magic (I will protect your names but I think you know who you are):

  • The best waiter in the world that served us the most romantic dinner right by the sea! Words can´t explain how much we appreciate your work, dedication and honesty!
  • The all-inclusive guy that served our children free drinks during the last days, Tjingeling!
  • The owner of the Tattoo/Jewelry shop with the very serious face. What a necklace and you remind me of a really dear friend from Canada.
  • The tattooist that made our Henna tattoos. The tattoos are awesome and please don’t offer the tattooist 10 LE for their work that embarrassing as a fellow country man to hear.
  • The guy who’s about to get married and couldn’t sleep. Many good luck whishes from me and my whole family.
  • The guy who made us vases with colorful sand.
  • “Sponge Bob”- our snorkeling guide that pushed me to all sorts of crazy things and fetched a 3m long moray from the bottom of the sea, RESPECT!moray

And I would like to thank this great software for enabling me to create this post:

  • Windows 7 that I’m running on my PC.
  • Windows Live Writer, the awesome tool I use to create blog posts.
  • WordPress, the blog platform that my blog runs on.
  • MySQL, the database that my blog platform runs on.
  • PHP, the language my blog platform uses.

Hugo

Leaving Microsoft–Entering Avega Group

Today is my last day as a Senior Consultant at Microsoft Consulting Services and tomorrow is my first day as an Avega Coach at Avega Group.

My time as an Avega Coach is divided between my regular (often coaching) assignments with customers and Avega Group and Elevate.

As usual my passion is mentoring other developers and teams of developers to become better software craftsmen so that they can deliver higher business value to people and organizations throughout the world.

And with that said here is a collection of ways to reach me:

E-post: Hugo.Haggmark@avegagroup.se

Blogg: http://www.hugohaggmark.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/hugohaggmark

Facebook: http://sv-se.facebook.com/hugo.haggmark

LinkedIn: http://se.linkedin.com/in/hugohaggmark

Xbox Gamer Tag: MadLazyDragon

Cheers!

Hugo Häggmark

Proud father gets inspired

This post will be of a more personal nature so I hope you enjoy my ramblings. My oldest son William just recently moved from a public school to a private school here in Vallentuna called Vittra and there are a couple of reasons why he did this:

Differences for the students

  • You are allowed to work as long and as deep on a subject as you want. For instance William is brilliant at math (a skill he most likely have inherited from my wonderful “math magician” wife Katrin) so at Vittra he is able to solve harder math challenges.
  • You have to take charge and plan your work much in the same way as in the real “adult life”, I remember Williams joy after his first day at school when he told me –Dad at Vittra we never have homework”.
  • Every student in 5th grade gets a brand new Apple computer.

Differences for the parents

  • Happier children that can excel in interesting subjects
  • Happier children that think they won’t have any homework Skrattar
  • Instant feedback with results from tests, cases and attendance in a really nice looking web portal.
  • The opportunity to try a new Apple computer

So yesterday William, Katrin and myself had our first Individual Development Plan meeting with Williams “ansvars pedagog” or “responsible educationalist” you might say. The meeting went very good and the “responsible educationalist” was really impressive in the way that she focused on how to challenge Williams strengths and strengthen Williams weaknesses much in the same way we as adults are used to in our jobs.

Vittra has the following philosophy surrounding teaching, learning and personal development:

The following table attempts to translate the words into English:

Swedish word:

English word:

Personlig utveckling Personal development
Kunskapsutveckling Knowledge development
Lära att lära Learn how to learn
Personligt ansvar Personal responsibility
Olikhet Difference
Tydlighet Clearness

Vittras take on learning is that you can’t develop your knowledge without strengthening your personal development and the way you learn. And one of their key values Difference is one that I really embrace through the antiracist “Vi Gillar Olika” campaign here in Sweden.

Back to the meeting where we together with the “responsible educationalist” tried to create at least 1 goal and at least 1 action for all 3 focus areas Personal development, Knowledge development and Learn how to learn. This meeting inspired me to write this blog post and to create this Individual Development Plan for myself:

Focus area:

Goal:

Action:

Personal development Become a great Coach Learn from people and real situations and study other great coaches. Challenge myself to take on difficult challenges.
Knowledge development Learn more about Lean and Kanban Attend seminars, shadow Lean/Kanban coaches, listen to podcasts or watch interesting videos.
Learn how to learn Learn a new way of learning Try different approaches when learning like learning from videos and podcasts. Try new tools like tools for mind mapping.

There you go, my very own Individual Development Plan inspired from my son.

What’s your IDP?

Hugo