Christof Stierlen
Tuesday December 22nd, 2009

UnternehmerTUM mid-term presentation

The tension grew on and on – and it was already a bit like waiting for “Father Christmas”.

After a little more than two months, the very enthusiastic students of UnternehmerTUM came to present what they discovered about InterFace.

And I think all InterFace employees who witnessed it were thrilled!

UTUM_HammerThe students showed that they had very well understood the colourful diversity you find at InterFace, but they also understood how the consequence of said diversity is a challenge. Their presentation was a one-hour show that would even have done justice to the theatre.

It is absolutely justifiable to say that some of the “alternative concepts” hammered it home (see picture).

All employees of InterFace can find the midterm presentation  here. Contact me for the password to access both the presentation and additional material.

We look forward to the second half of the project next year, where solutions will be processed and implemented.

(Translated by EG)

Dear folks at InterFace!

Manage&MoreThanks also to your enthusiastic feedback during the questionnaire rounds, we can now present the first results on:

“Creating a brand for the InterFace AG. – How do we see ourselves? How do others see us? What would be desirable?”.

Frau Niederle of U-TUM has kindly invited all interested InterFace employees to come to Garching (on December, 18th, 3.30 p.m. to 6 p.m).

If you intend to go, please send me a short note.

Christof Stierlen

Here is the official invitation by Manage&More:Einladung zu UnternehmerTUM (1026)

(Translated by EG)

Christof Stierlen
Sunday December 6th, 2009

OpenSpace at InterFace I

An experiment …

Open Space Landscape… with excellent results. We had more than 70 participants who were all fascinated. More than 20 topics were discussed. The meeting was an all-round success for “our future at InterFace”.
I presume that most of you agree that this kind of event is the most suitable for people working at InterFace. Everybody can contribute with ideas of his or her own, everybody decides by him- or herself what he or she is interested in and where to get active. Now we are all eager to see which of the ideas will benefit most from the initial momentum.

Many thanks to all who participated and I wish us all lots of fun for our common future activities!

(Translated by EG)

Christof Stierlen
Sunday November 22nd, 2009

Open Space at InterFace

The next InterFace Blue Friday (Dec., 4th, 2009) – we at InterFace meet at regular intervals on certain Fridays – will not be for discussing business fields. For a change, we decided to make it an Open Space event:
mehr »

Christof Stierlen
Thursday October 9th, 2008

(Deutsch) Impressionen aus Kalifornien

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Christof Stierlen
Wednesday October 1st, 2008

Next Steps with TUM

Pünktlich zum 1. Oktober war es soweit: Es fiel der Startschuss für die gemeinsamen Creative Scrum Aushänge – unsere Kooperation mit der TU-München geht damit in die nächste Phase.

Die Aushänge sind mit allen offiziellen Genehmigungen versehen und finden sich im Gebäude der Informatik-Fakultät an einigen exponierten Plätzen. Ganz gezielt geht es darum, interessierte Mitstreiter für das Thema Creative Scrum zu finden. Wir freuen uns auf die ersten Rückmeldungen.

Click on image for full screen view

A short time ago, Roland Dürre came with a pile of books – masses of well-preserved copies of Gerhards Saeltzer’s „Erstaunliche Computerwelt (Amazing Computer World)”.

Roland’s comment: “I am going to buy up all the copies of this book on the market. With this book, we will be able to turn even the very young talents towards computer science”.

I must admit that, on seeing the somewhat yellowed cover page, I found the idea a little absurd. But as the two of us started turning page after page with smiles on our faces, we made some most amazing discoveries. Listed as they sprang to mind, they are:

mehr »

Christof Stierlen
Wednesday September 10th, 2008

Impressions of a Participant – Creative Scrum Workshop

You have already read about day number one of the Creative Scrum Workshops (see: link). Now let me tell you my impressions and experiences of day number two:

After the requirements were clarified (structure), we ran two sprints for designing our flyer. During the first sprint, we were going to build sub-groups and find headwords for every theme. We also wanted to generate the corresponding texts and do the proofreading. The second sprint was for design (layout) and final arrangement.

While the sprint was under way, however, we discovered that there were more tasks that needed to be done, such as weighing the goals and gathering information, before we could think of writing texts. Writing the actual texts, too, turned out to take a lot longer than we had anticipated.

Consequently, the tasks originally assigned to the first sprint were finished during the second sprint, whereas the layout and final text arrangement were postponed to the following week.
What did we learn in the SCRUM workshop?

We learned that SCRUM is an excellent method for working in teams in a structured and efficient way. It can be applied to all kinds of themes. We also saw how important it is for the “product owner” to clearly define what needs to be done if we want a result in the shortest possible time. Having an idea about the required time before you start with the work, too, is absolutely beneficial for all kinds of tasks.

Even though we did not manage to finish our flyers – the drafts of the texts were written! 🙂

I would like to thank Christof Stierlen and Alexander Maisch for supplying the resources and providing us with a goal-oriented introduction. Also many thanks to Florian Forster and Harry Wartig for letting us use the „creative collaboration tools”.

Manuela Weber for the TEG team
(translated by EG)

Christof Stierlen
Monday August 25th, 2008

Creativity Support for SCRUM Teams

The words creativity and software development are not very often uttered in the same sentence. For decades, the “engineer’s” perspective on software development has prevailed, following the motto: programming software is like building a house. First you need exact plans, which are then “implemented” by the craftsmen, and finally the proud owner gets the building of his dreams in all its beauty and splendour. In this model, a creative adaptation by the craftsman, probably even one that is not in accordance with the plans, is not desired.

In practice, however, we have seen that the development of (non-trivial) software systems according to the underlying, strictly sequential “waterfall model” is all too often unsatisfactory. This negative experience is not the only reason why eventually a new concept was created, the “agile manifest”. It is nothing short of a change of paradigm: software development is now an empirical, dynamic process highly influenced by the individual parties concerned.

In SCRUM, the focus on individual persons is evident, as you can see if you look at the emphasis on team work (with all members having equal rights). The “protective role” of the SCRUM master, the impediment log, the daily SCRUM meeting and the fixed review phases are also facettes aiming at the appreciation of all team members and the creation of space for them. It is precisely this space that offers the best possible basis for creativity and innovation which otherwise would have had little chance against detail-loving project plans and work-sharing processes.

Following this concept, the IF-/TEG-/TUM Creative-Scrum-Workshop from August, 8th to 9th wanted to find out where and to what extent the creativity of the team can be actively promoted during the SCRUM project process. To this end, the participants were provided with access to idea stream platform ( Idea stream is an application enabling teams to execute creativity techniques via a browser collaboratively (in real-time). The techniques range from “classical” brainstorming and the morphological cube to idea evaluation techniques. There was no rule according to which the participants had to use a certain application. Instead, they were allowed to choose at their own liberty.

The workshop showed that using a creativity support tool in a SCRUM process can make sense at several stages:

– In sprint planning: for dividing the backlog entries into tasks and for weighing various implementing approaches against each other.
– Probably also for cost evaluation (planning poker – but that was not conventionally dealt with in the workshop).
– When looking at it in retrospect: for collecting, organizing and archiving feedback. A participant might feel more comfortable with anonymous brainstorming than with “classical” brainstorming.

– Case-to-case application, probably in ad-hoc groups for processing tasks: participants also made use of the creativity support while working on their tasks. This happened spontaneously and self-organized in ad-hoc groups with different, also changing groups of participants. The idea evaluation function, in particular, was a much-loved instrument in the group.

During a subsequent poll, all participants agreed that using different creativity techniques had a positive impact on the result. The shared, simultaneous work on ideas also received positive support by most of the participants. However, the extra effort required for creativity technique support put a damper on our enthusiasm – although we were aware of the fact that this was mostly due to technical problems during our first workshop day.

The workshop also showed that even a mostly self-organized group needs an experienced moderator in order to work efficiently. Nor will it be possible to replace the moderator in the near future by some computer application or other. Nevertheless, creativity support software can considerably lower the moderation cost by providing structural guidance and information.

Florian Forster, TU München.

Christof Stierlen
Tuesday August 19th, 2008

Creative Scrum Teams – Pilot Workshop (August, 2008)

08/08/08, 08:08 a.m. – the combination of time and date reads like something people consider appropriate for a wedding ceremony.

We, too, start into a new world. Together with Munich Technical University and TEG – the entrepreneurial group – we at InterFace prepared a workshop in order to find out how the agile approach SCRUM can be supported by using Creative Collaboration Tools.

After having thought a lot about it during the planning stage (see post 1 and post2), we are now at it. The intention  is clearly defined:

Creative Scrum = Creativity Tools + Scrum Method

All participants arrive on time at InterFace in Unterhaching on the seminar corridor for the general welcome and introductions. First and foremost, Alexander Maisch, a scrum master of InterFace AG, gives us an expert introduction to the basics and principles of SCRUM. He describes the roles of product owner, team and scrum master and illustrates them with examples.

Then, Florian Forster of TU München introduces the idea stream platform as it is developed and applied for testing a creative collaboration tool.

After the lunch break, we apply the theory in practice. Laptops are taken out of their cases and ideas quickly start flowing onto the electronic platform. Sorting and evaluating the ideas, too, happens faster and faster as we get more practice.

Typical questions are asked and answered: who are the stakeholders in the chosen practical project? What are their interests and goals? How can we structure these goals and reach them together?

As time goes by, all parties concerned collect valuable experience. Very practical problems, too, are solved: admittedly, a number of participants in the two-digit range is initially too much for the WLAN system. And it is also true that the moderator is extremely important in every phase, regardless, or perhaps sometimes even because of, the extremely high motivation of all participants.

Yet, by the day’s end, we have managed to finish the first scrum sprint. The main obstacles have been removed and first results found.
Consequently, we start the second day enthusiastically. After the next two scrum sprints, all parties concerned agree: we have reached a good result with what the practical problem was. Scrum as a method of tackling problems helped us a lot, and the creative collaboration tools were truly beneficial.

Every one of us was very impressed by the nice atmosphere, the work-support tools and the results. Our common conclusion was: more workshops of this kind will be beneficial for all parties concerned. We will continue to work on the idea.

(Translated by EG)