Welcome Carlotta!

Carlotta Maria Groganz

Our daughter Carlotta Maria Groganz was born last week, Thursday, November 29th.

I am so in love with her and already feel like I know her my whole life. She will surely teach me to be a good father 🙂

@Carlotta: One day you will be able to read this, so let me thank you for being with us – you make us so happy!

Flying Garage

Yet, no proof of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, but I have photographic evidence that the Flying Garage exists:

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Yes, and the flying truck also exists:

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Actually, the wonder did not happen unexpectedly, we ordered and paid for it. We also had the entrance to our house paved:

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Now we can easily access and leave our house with the pram, which is still silently waiting in the corner of our corridor for the baby to arrive within the next days … let the real wonder begin!

My Home is My Office

Since roughly 5 years I work remotely, from my home office. I did so self-employed as well as employed, being a programmer, consultant, pre-sales, marketing guy and in management positions. I was engaged, now being married, rich and poor, rented a flat and now own a house. Work was pleasant, nerve-wracking, boring, amazing.

Monty and Zak formulated a set of principles and rules for running a Free Software/Open Source business. One rule they proclaim is:

The Employee works in distributed company and may work from anywhere.

In fact, while employed, I was often the only one working remotely from home – quite opposite to Monty’s MySQL, where most people work remotely. Hence, I could clearly see what’s different between me working from home and my colleagues sitting together in an office building.

I realized that it is necessary to visit office(s) regularly, to avoid being cut off from group dynamics and being left without influence. While the company is on track, being there once per month sufficed. The more strategic decisions needed to be made, the more often I showed up on the spot, because nothing beats face-to-face meetings in times of change.

The more people work remotely, the more a company needs to be disciplined and discuss important issues at a given time, either via conf calls or in meetings on the spot, because you cannot easily gather colleagues in one room. It needs discipline to avoid the pitfall of “out of site, out of mind”. A corporate culture not being used to colleagues working remotely quickly “forgets” about colleagues working at home.

The big advantage of working remotely is that you can avoid the traps of group dynamics. To put it bluntly: Put a bunch of people in one room and they will make each other believe what they want to believe. This can end in fatal business decisions. It is good for software companies to have some insiders working from outside, because they can much clearer see what’s going wrong.

Then again, if something goes wrong badly, you cannot change a company’s course from your home office, you’ll need to gather people in face-to-face meetings to build trust, fight for the cause, commit to new goals.

Once, when starting in a new company which was not used to remote work, I had my boss call me several days in a row at 9:00 to see whether I really started work just like the others did. Managers not used to virtual teams, only believe what they see and unfortunately relapse to patriarch surveillance measures of early industrial times instead of trust-based relationships between knowledge workers.

In fact, working at home requires you to be a lot more disciplined and result-oriented and also to be more conscious about your work rhythm and that of your colleagues. At home, you cannot trick your boss into believing that you work simply by staring into a computer monitor.

Goodbye Mindquarry! What Will Be Next?

Although I feel sad that Mindquarry did not work out the way it was meant to be, I am also excited about some great opportunities which came up lately.

First of all, I’d like to thank all my former colleagues at Mindquarry who proved once more that they are real sports especially during the rough times that lay behind us. You can tell their commitment and proudness from the fact that they kept working on the now available Mindquarry 1.2beta release until the last day of the company’s existence.

I very much welcome that the three Mindquarry founders now help Day Software to add collaborative tools to their Enterprise Content Management System. This is an extremely smart move by Day, because each one of the founders are superb developers with an entrepreneurial attitude. Plus, the founders already gained a lot of experience and insights in the collaboration market space – something of high value for Day’s business, because it accelerates time-to-market.

So, what will I be doing? In fact, I am yet undecided whether I will enter employment again or start my own business with a very good friend of mine. Either way, I plan to continue working in the domain of Open Source marketing, be it as part of a firm’s management or as a consultant.

Up-to-now, I have four job opportunities, most of them would also be interested in working with me as an external consultant. What do you think would be the best choice?

Open Sourcing Your Life

I often skip Dave Pollard’s blog entries, because they are rather long pieces of text. Yet, Dave’s latest posting struck me:

Our traditional education system teaches learned helplessness, and does not teach us how to make a living for ourselves. It perfectly feeds the industrial business-political-economic system, which wants an excess of cheap, frightened, obedient, dependent labour.

That’s basically how I felt at school and (a bit less though) at university. I dropped out of university, because at that point I had learned what I wanted to learn and it did not make any sense to me to invest two more years just to hold a piece of paper in my hands.

In the same blog entry, Dave writes:

Get a bunch of us together, bunches of bunches of us together, to start imagining how this virtuous cycle could work, perhaps using Open Source, telling stories of this Natural Economy as if it already existed.

Right, Open Source is also a way of living, a way of supporting what Dave calls “Natural Economy”. That’s why I only work for Open Source companies. I would die like a flower not getting enough sun and water in a proprietary company – which reminds me of IBM Distinguished Engineer Gunter Dueck, who believes that human beings should be treated like flowers with some of us loving the sunny deserts with little rain and others enjoying the shadows of a rain forest.