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Hugo Messer was a special guest.


Hugo Messer Podcast

[00:00] Yegor: Hello everybody this is shift-m podcast episode number seven. We have a special guest today, Hugo Messer and he’s from somewhere far away from Europe and America and he’s going to present himself right now. But he’s an expert in distributed management. That’s going to be the subject today. Hugo, tell us about yourself.

[00:23] Hugo: Yeah so am I’m Hugo and I’m not from America but from Holland. I live at Bali at the moment so yeah I moved through about a year ago so there might be some background noise because I’m working in a co-working space sometimes big motorcycles and Bali and try rants and any disturbance so you know what it is.

[00:44] Yegor: So how long you were you there, a year?

[00:46] Hugo: Yeah I moved there a little more than a year ago.

[00:52] Yegor: Did you like it there?

[00:54] Hugo: Yeah it’s a good place. If you could see my background then I think you would agree.

[01:00] Yegor: Why did you move? Can you share. I’m actually interested myself personally.

[01:04] Hugo: Yeah there’s a lot of people from all over the world here actually. And I mean I traveled I traveled the earth three years back and I had the idea of moving somewhere else and I lived in India before to set up my office there. I really liked the tropical climate so when I came here I went I looked around for about two weeks and traveled them checked out some schools because I had three kids. And then I thought it would be a good place to live. And it’s kind of a combination of a tropical island but also you have some sort of civilization a lot of Westerners some good good infrastructure good international schools.

[01:45] Yegor: So you’re not coming back.

[01:48] Hugo: But our plan was to stay for one year as an experiment and we already extended it with another year maybe two. So no plans yet to come back.

[02:01] Yegor: That’s great. So. Well the main question now is what do you think as an expert what is the main difference between working remotely and working like in the office. Can you share your experience because you’re teaching right now right how to work remotely.

[02:18] Hugo: Well for the last year I’ve been teaching a lot about agile and scrum and also I mean my main interest is in distributed teams distributed agile. And I think in a way there is not that much difference because you still need to manage people so in that you need to manage teamwork you need to make sure that everybody is aligned and your team creates the output that you’re after the outcomes. If you’re if you’re in the same office it’s a little bit better. It’s easier to align. But nowadays people sit behind a PC so even if you’re in the office you could hide what you’re doing and you don’t you’re not aware of what your colleagues are doing anyway. The only difference is you have your lunch stock you have your coffee talk so it’s easier to stay updated about each other. So I think if you look if you move remote than few things you really need. You need to have discipline because if people work completely alone remotely they might stay in bed or do whatever they want because nobody’s really checking them. I think you need discipline as a team or as a company. I think we need systems to support your collaboration and your communications or you need good tooling you need systems to make sure that everybody stays in line, reports, and make stuff transparent. And you need to you need to make what I always call communication rhythym to make sure that you have regular meetings through video conferencing. I prefer videoconferencing over a chat room but you could also use chat. So what I like especially about scrum is that it facilitates this kind of communication rhythm because you have a built in Sprint plan and you do daily stand up and you do a demo retrospective and these are actually the sort of ceremonies and events that I think really help a remote team align and collaborate.

[04:17] Yegor: So without warrants without all that events it’s going to be impossible or very difficult to manage people remote right.

[04:26] Hugo: Well that’s my own view. I mean when I when I started out 12 years ago to take projects from Holland and outsource to teams in Ukraine I found that a lot of programmers in Ukraine are inclined to do stuff through chat so they prefer not to talk because their English is not that well if they speak. So they prefer to chat and it works but it also brings difficulties especially if you have a larger team and different stakeholders in the in one project. And I think you also lack the human bonding. So you don’t really build connections if you only chat. You do but on another level and I know you are actually a fan of not communicating at all and not wasting time drinking beers and becoming friends and that makes a lot of sense as well to me.

[05:13] Yegor: Ya well I’m really in favor of this discipline things you mentioned and structure and the process. So I kind of agree with that that if there is some structure in place then it will be possible to manage whoever they are and wherever they are in any country, locally. Yeah but what you’re saying more about Agile, Scrum, and standups and all these things which happen in usually teams which are co-located. And I think that says a lot about the collocated of having to face to face communications instead of distributing what you think is still true or it’s something from the past.

[05:53] Hugo: Well you know what the agile manifesto basically says is that it’s better to like face to face communication is more effective. That’s true. I mean in a way I think if you align well in a way it’s true and in a way it’s also not true. I think it is easier if you’re collocated you don’t have to think so much because things go more natural, if you’re a distributor you have to just pay attention to how you’re going to solve that kind of interaction that you have if you’re in the same office. So I think it’s easier. But having said that with the technology that we have nowadays it is also possible to do everything remote. And I also think it depends a bit on the context because if you look at if you’re working in a big bank and everything is co-located then you’ve got thousand people in your country working on similar projects and suddenly you have a team somewhere in India or wherever in the US it’s going to be harder to make the distribution work because you have us versus them you have you know cultural differences so they influence stuff. So it’s I see a lot of stuff because I’m in Bali so I work from co-working spaces frequently and I see a lot of people were part of a distributed team and these startups nowadays they don’t have any offices they never started out with having a group of people in one place. Everybody’s always working remote. And that was the start and I think that’s maybe easier or more effective because people are used to it.

[07:28] Yegor: So why big companies like Google or Facebook they’re not allowing people to work remotely from home. That’s right. I mean there but that’s what I’ve read on the news that big companies huge companies they try to let people work from home and then they stop their initiative. After some few years of experimentation.

[07:46] Hugo: Maybe it’s I don’t know. I mean maybe they do research and they look at they’re very keen on getting the most productivity out of their people and they find other it’s less productive. I don’t know. There’s also a lot of research that shows that it’s actually better for your people creates more happiness than people actually work harder for you. I don’t know maybe it’s some control oriented CEO who came to power at Yahoo and then suddenly changes everything.

[08:12] Yegor: With the industry. Where is the direction we’re heading. More people working from home or bigger offices and more control?

[08:20] Hugo: No I think no no I think no. I mean if I haven’t been in Holland for the last year. But if I look at Holland and what happened in the last five or 10 years the amount of office space that was built before was massive and I think 50 or 60 percent of that is empty because people said it was a recession. So there’s less jobs but people also work from home more. Becomes less necessary to be in the same space. I mean people still want to be I think that people are you want to interact with art as if you’re completely in isolation. That’s not going to work. That’s also why things like this co-work spaces pop up where people still can come together. I mean why would you go to an office if you spent two hours in a traffic jam everyday and just go there because you have to go there. It doesn’t make sense because you don’t you get more work than you stay at home you save the travel and the headache.

[09:12] Yegor: Yeah but you know I’ve heard many times that opinion that when people are somewhere when they’re sitting somewhere in their pajamas in the back yard and you know scratching the head of their dogs and they don’t really work. They just are having fun of course they’re happy as happy because they don’t work. So you still pay them you still send money to their bank accounts but the amount of contributions your projects are getting back is really small. That’s what I’ve heard.

[09:40] Hugo: Yeah that’s what I can also imagine and that’s why you need disciplined people so for some people might not work. And that’s again where you need the assistance you need to measure people much more on outcomes and then be strict in the API that you set and the outcomes they would use because if they sit in the pajamas and play with the dog and they don’t produce anything you either get the guy back to the office or find someone else.

[10:03] Yegor: Or put the structure in place like you’ve just said. Some you know APIs, rules just simply I don’t know.

[10:07] Hugo: Yes but still some people can manage that I think. Not everybody is made for that. Some people need somebody to tell them everyday day you know do this do that and keep them motivated. So you need self-motivation you need discipline.

[10:19] Yegor: Aha so you’re saying that there are two different kinds of people. People who can be self disciplined and can be you know managed by rules. And this other category of people who just need to be babysat in the office and always like needed some not be patronized or I don’t know how to call that. Right? [10:39] Hugo: Well I’m not sure if there’s only two types but if we were talking stereotypes I think this might be true. Ya. This probably grades of it. But yeah and I think people can also recognize that by themselves I mean if you work for a company and you work remote and you find that you are too much distracted and you need your office space and maybe ask for it yourself. Or you make a mix. I mean I think a lot of companies feel that you could work from home for two or three days and then spend the other two days in the office because you want to socialize because it’s pressure or whatever.

[11:12] Yegor: But when you train the team when you when you provide some coaching to the team and you’re training them to work remotely. Do you give them some special knowledge and management or is just just regular management? And that’s that’s enough for both.

[11:29] Hugo: Well if it’s about having a generic distributed team or helping them I have a few tools that I implement in my own company. Like one of them is one page strategic plan. This comes from the scaling up method so it’s basically a one page plan that shows where you’re going as a company in terms of vision mission values and then translates that into three year goals, one year goal so you have an overall strategy plan and that everybody can see your company. And then I have a Google sheet in which you have your top priorities for the quarter so every quarter you do a virtual call or you could maybe do that physically. And you set the goals for your quarters together so that everybody knows okay this is what like the top five priorities that you’re going to set for the quarter together. And then every person also makes a quality plan for himself. And then I have in my own team I use Strehlow and a lot of our tech teams are using G-route or other tools depending on the clients we’re working for. We use Trello to make goals like we basically translate those quarterly goals into tickets that you process on a weekly basis. So these tools help to align a company or to align a team and have clear direction and transparency to show what’s going on. And then this this Trello board is actually the thing that for my team is really crucial. So we look at that on a daily basis so we do our sprint planning on Monday we look at what everybody’s going to plan for this week and every day we look for people who are working on them we help each other to get unstuck. And then on Friday everybody shows that the goal is to move all the tickets for the week to the done column and then check what everybody has done and achieved.

[13:26] Yegor: So it’s ticket-based basicaly. So the management is ticket based. Some people complain about that. I’ve heard many times people saying that we’re not you know monkeys closing tickets here. We are more creative creatures we want freedom we want to work not in the borders. Tickets are assigned to us. There’s way more area for creativity for us and when there are tickets coming in and we’re just locked in the statistics in these tickets we have to do what the ticket says. Then it’s kind of demotivate us and prevents us from being creative.

[14:04] Hugo: Right.

[14:05] Yegor: Is it right?

[00:00] Hugo: Well no. I mean if you look at if you look at what scrum says you make you have a product and so you as a boss maybe are the product only or are you another boss managing people you’re not assigning stuff but you have your product back walk. So you create all the other stories sort of think that you want to have process during a week or during a sprint. And then people can actually self-select tickets that they want to work on right? Or they could even in my team - I mean it depends on if you’re a tech team. The case that I just described with priorities is more general team. So my team is more marketing salespeople. So but if you have a tech team it’s all about building a certain product. And then those people can actually take the tickets that need to be built into their sprint for that specific sprint right? Or that specific week or to two weeks. So maybe it’s more I don’t know maybe they think what I heard you say is you assigned the tickets and maybe that’s what gets the resistance. That’s what agile says as well. You don’t like you don’t have the project manager assigning work to people with people self commit to what they’re going to do.

[15:08] Yegor: Ah so there is a list of tickets like a backlog and then the team is sitting together and saying and I’m saying I’m going to take ticket number five and ticket number seven. Ya?

[15:16] Hugo: Yeah. Exactly. Well it could be individual could be as a team. So you do you do your sprint planning on Monday morning for example and as a team you sit together for two three hours you discuss what all the tickets are about to create understanding and then you estimate that. And then as a team you say as okay these are the tickets that we can commit to in this week or we’re going to do. So you don’t have a boss assigning anything. They do their own work.

[15:41] Yegor: Uhu, and they need to understand the priorities right? They need to know what’s important and what’s less important.

[15:46] Hugo: Ya, so you as a product owner you could put as number one on the top of your board. That’s the most important thing and on the bottom is the least important.

[15:56] Yegor: Well in this case if people will pick up the tickets they like they will usually select the work which is more comfortable for them to do.

[16:06] Hugo: Well it’s a discussion right? You need you as a product owner. You need to get something done. You represent the business interests so you need to make sure that you discuss with the team that this thing has to be done you can’t just leave it on the backlog.

[16:21] Yegor: No but in my question is different in my situation. What I’m doing is that I’m usually trying to assign work to people randomly so in order to prevent creating so-called experts and people who know more than somebody else in the specific domain area. Because they’re all in my opinion that will create so-called experts or domain knowledge experts which know way more in some in some territory and then that territory will be locked by these people that will not be able to you know to move or to will rely on that people way too much.

[16:53] Hugo: Ya.

[16:54] Yegor: So that sounds logical to me and that’s what I’m doing so. But you’re saying that it’s the job of the team to say what they’re going to do or it’s the responsibility of the individuals for who has to decide what they are going to do.

[17:07] Hugo: Yes exactly. Well that’s what Agile is about it’s about self organization and self management because in the in the case you describe you know what also might happen is that one guy could actually do that work in five minutes whereas the guy you assigned it to take five hours. Yeah. And you wouldn’t know that. But if you have a team of smart guys and they discuss regularly they know about it. And I think it also depends you know in your case I think the programmers are or they’re not really a team right. You have individual guys processing certain tasks but they don’t really work on as a team co-located or as a tight team. They might not even know each other.

[17:45] Yegor: But in your case that’s that’s my point. In the case of remote teams that’s exactly the situation like that so people don’t know each other. Or it’s not.

[17:52] Hugo: Well it depends. So itt depends on the setup because again those start ups that I mentioned you have a lot of people that work like for example automatic or at home or the guys who work at wordpress. I think everybody works remote. So they have 250, 300 people and they all work from home. But in a lot of cases with existing enterprises you have co-located teams. So even though all of the team is in India they’re going to be co-located and this is still one one. Yeah exactly and they are co-located. So it’s still a remote team but they work together. And I think that’s actually more the rule than the exception. Most teams are co-located but scattered around the globe.

[18:31] Yegor: And that’s exactly my question. What I’m really interested to see the difference between just moving abroad and sitting somewhere but still being member of the same team having the same meetings having the same procedures and basically doing the same stuff which which I was doing in the office and versus another set up where you were actually going remote and then we’d just start managing those differently. So both management does something different from leaving remote. I think. Or you don’t see the difference.

[19:07] Hugo: So I think there is a difference and from which perspective you look at it and just thinking there was one guy here in Bali who works for an Internet Agency in Holland and he’s he moved there for I think a year ago and he’s the only programmer working remote. So he used to work in the same office with the same guys then he worked he moved and started working remote. So that’s the situation where one guy goes from most and the rest is still co-located. I think from the manager perspective you will need to change stuff like he needs to make sure that those guys are aligned.

[19:45] Yegor: So we need to somehow change the rules of work right? Not just move not just start working from home. Because that’s a very typical story and think that’s the cause of the of the problem and these big companies they just allow people to work from home without changing the system without changing the management principles and that people have to start working from home being of the same team expecting the same things from the management. Doing exactly the same and it doesn’t work because because now they’re remote you know.

[20:11] Hugo: Now I think that’s maybe a. I mean you have a lot of that’s like the existing guy who. And the example I gave was a tech guy. But if you work in a bank and you’re a bank clerk and you suddenly start working from home I think that has a lot of implications. And management also needs to change but if you’re if you work for an I.T. department and they start they set up a remote team in India. I think that’s another set up because in that case you do need to everybody be aware. We need to change our system we can move us to the cloud. We need to change the way we communicate because we’re not in the same room in the same country. And then I think the other spectrum is this sort of starts completely remote from day one and hires only people remotely. Maybe that the case that you described. Whereas some people start working remote from their home but not everybody is the hardest one. Might be, I don’t know for me it’s always worked. I never thought about it actually as I worked. I don’t know better than just working remotely. In the initial years I started building a team in Holland actually because I was still thinking very traditionally. So I did. I did and I worked for some companies before that but since I closed that office I actually never looked back because it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. You also waste a lot of time if you work in the same office.

[21:39] Yegor: A lot of time what do you mean? Wasting for what.

[21:42] Hugo: I mean you just chit chat talking people come to disturb you. You sit alone at home you work. I work way more productive.

[21:50] Yegor: Yeah well people love that. You just said that people we are social creatures we like to talk with each other right. So some people complain about that just saying like I don’t want to sit home I don’t want to I don’t want to be alone I don’t want to be isolated. I want to be in the team in the group I want to communicate And then they just say no give me the office. I’ve heard that I’ve met that problem so I’ve had to deal with people and we like co-located. And then I started to move them starting. I started to tell them like go home work from home I’m going to close the office and a few of them about 50 percent of them complained they said no I’m not going to work from home. It’s just not comfortable for me I want still to be in the office even though there is no management. You know the management is gone the management is remote but still I want to sit here because I like this coffee machine I like to come somewhere every day. I don’t want to be at home because there are like three kids and a wife and everything. All that stuff.

[22:43] Hugo: Right. Yeah but I think you could also make a sort of mix-right? You could work three days from home two days in the office. Plus for me since I I’ve been working so much remote I actually get my interaction with people do by doing Skype calls. You get used to that somehow. It’s not the same as meeting physically but still it’s a good a good substitute I think.

[23:04] Yegor: And how much how much of this communication do you have like your the teams you’re coaching usually have like remote communications let’s say Skype calls how many times a day they call each other.

[23:15] Yegor: Well I think it depends a little bit. For myself I try to reduce it as much as possible so with my own team because I have a few people in Jakarta right now and a few people in India we do daily. We just do daily Actually we just started up, it takes 15 minutes a day. So on Monday we have the Sprint planning which takes about 45 minutes and every day we do 15 minutes of a flight. It’s about 30 or 45 minutes to discuss the week. But again that’s a non-tech team. I think a tech team needs to be online more so you know I think our our technology teams and our Indian office. It depends per client but they will do all those ceremonies where the Sprint planning takes usually two three hours and then they do it daily but in between if they have questions they’ll also go with the client. And some of the teams even have a direct line all day. So we really like last year I experimented with this kubee. You have been doing stuff with that as well I think the American device so you have a kubee in your office sitting with the team so that the product owner in Sweden if he works with the Indian team he’s always kind of part of the team sitting together. So I’ve got a question I could just turn to a kubee and ask him. Or you can do it on the video conferencing.

[24:36] Yegor: And you think that’s a good good to feature. Good tool.

[24:04] Hugo: Yeah because it makes a barrier to ask questions less. Sure you need interaction because if a programmer doesn’t know what to do he’ll probably need to ask someone. Otherwise he’s going to make buggy software built completely something else. So I think that that interaction needs to have a low threshold. Now you can also use tools like slacke of course slack or whatsapp what’s so there’s more to that.

[25:05] Yegor: So if I’m a developer or a programmer then I am I should in a properly organized distributed team I should expect this conference call like eight hours a day or I should expect 15 15 minutes a day like we just said. So what do you think is the right strategy?

[25:19] Hugo: It depends on the team. It depends on the people you work with because I think for some teams it’s useful to have that line open and that that often comes from a product owner and not from a or a project manager and that’s from the programmers. Or you can actually Skype chat or your whatsapp chat open and agreed that if the question I’ll get an answer fast enough and otherwise I’ll get it in the meeting. But I think I mean if you follow scrum then one of the key things is to make sure that your spend planning on the first day of your sprint you get enough clarification so everybody knows what to do. So amount of interaction during a sprint this less.

[25:57] Yegor: So basically these chats these video calls. They are required to help us share information.

[26:06] Hugo: Yeah.

[26:07] Yegor: And like really documentation is not enough for that like you know documenting the code or writing some specifications or I don’t know having some Wiki pages or QA pages. No?

[26:19] Hugo: I mean I think I think in your case it works if it works it works. I never believe that it is only one single way to do something. What happens if you do it like I mean the traditional waterfall model of buiilding software that you make all your specifications upfront. Right so if you describe if you do what you’ve just said you probably have to do more description. So as a project manager or client or product only you spend more time making those documents you spend time documenting stuff and then it’s only your brain producing the requirements and that’s probably a lot of flaws in that process. It raises a lot of questions from the programming team and that’s why I really believe in this ritual where you discuss all the user stories so as only you don’t like those specifications but you describe them on a high level and then in the discussion people create clarity as ideas on the architecture. They add the functionality to the user stories. It’s more of a group brain activity. But still I think your way can also work if you know exactly what you want. You can specify that stuff or you can just send it to the developers. Then if that works it works.

[27:29] Yegor: Because I thought that programmers are usually people who like to think logically and core in most cases introversial and they don’t really enjoy like being open and like you just said most people don’t even like video calls or they prefer to stay in chats. Yes. So it sounds like they would prefer to work with the documentation a written format instead of calling somebody or answering questions or asking questions. Sounds like me as a programmer sounds more convenient way to share information.

[28:00] Hugo: Yeah but again it depends on the setup so if we take an example where a client is in the US and your team is in Ukraine if the team is co-located and they have for example a product owner in the US and then the proxy product with a strong monster and a whole team working on the sprints and those guys Ukraine are inclined to talk to each other so they can as a team do the Sprint planning and clarify stuff. So it depends again on the construct. But if you give him a choice do you want to speak to the American client and discuss in a two hour video call all the requirements for a sprint they probably prefer not doing that.

[28:38] Yegor: Ya exactly. I would also say no because you know there’s this product people business people they speak the same different language. It’s just as difficult to communicate with them. I mean I’m a programmer I speak Java and these these guys are speaking completely something else. So you know how far you.

[28:54] Hugo: I know how it works and I also think there’s a flip side to this because I think a lot of programmers they don’t interact with any businesspeople with the users and they just want to make codes which is not always good because you want to create stuff which is valuable to the users not necessarily fancy coats fancy functionality. So I think actually that that gap can be closed between business and the IT side by more communication.

[29:18] Yegor: And do you think the tools that we have right now in the market are sufficient for for communications that we may need in the remote team in the future. Like you just said we have whatsapp we have Skype we have Trebble. Do you think we’re missing we’re still missing something or that’s enough for the next it’s like 20 years 50 years.

[29:42] Hugo: You know that’s tough. Tough stuff. I mean new tools come up and then I’m usually not an early adopter but something comes up and then people try it and they like slack comes up out of nowhere and suddenly everybody starts using. And so I think that right now I wouldn’t be able to mention that this is what we lack. I mean Skype could be a lot better. That’s the problem. Since Microsoft took over it crashes all the time. Yeah but otherwise I think if you have that kind of like we’re using right now. But they are maybe tomorrow’s something you will find that we need. But I didn’t know about it but I think right now we have enough like all the cloud tools you know basically if you have your your video conferencing and you’ve got Google Drive with Doc sheets etc. and a trial board in my case and you’re good.

[30:27] Yegor: well let’s say want one of the things I would like to have. That’s just the tool I’m missing. Is there some kind of when I ask a question for example in a video call and then somebody answers me that question then I want to record that video and I want to have an ability somehow to search through this video and to find the places where that particular questions were asked and the answers for it because I don’t know I don’t know how it works in the big teams. They probably record their video video sessions but maybe not but if they do record that’s I think it’s a problem to search through hours of recording and find where exactly that guy told us what to do in that specific store.

[31:11] Hugo: Yeah right. OK that sounds like a good tool to have, you should make it.

[31:12] Yegor: Well that’s that’s the one thing I kind of I feel that the market is missing now maybe maybe something like that YouTube has now been YouTube you can kind of search for the video but it’s still like a very mature future I think. So they just started right. All right. Me it sounds like a lot of information when people are like supposed to work so this video calls and calls. You have to keep all the information in your head. That’s what I feel. So you have to remember all you need.

[31:38] Hugo: I mean I mean you need to make it right routine to see if there’s a scrum master in the team can facilitate you know documenting the stuff that’s discussed so you can make sure you open your channel and then use a story that you’re discussing. You started making notes or your screenshots or maybe your audio fragments or whatever.

[31:57] Yegor: Aha so we’re using this video calls just to fetch information on that we have to remember to put it back into writing.

[32:03] Hugo: Well that’s what I would do in my teams like document everything if I put my sprint planning in that meeting and some some new idea pops up or new task I immediately create a trial scribe it so that I’m sure nothing is lost.

[32:21] Yegor: Well isn’t it redundant in this case. First of all we need to talk for half an hour and then we need to spend another half an hour to write it down. Maybe it’s just enough to write. No? What do you think?

[32:29] Hugo: Maybe it is maybe that is. As I said I mean am I in my own experience when I start out with this stuff I did everything written and I had so many headaches because the thing with it depends on the context. Again I think if you in my I had clients in Holland and I was an intermediary. And then I had to brief my teams in Ukraine what they needed to do. So I talked to the client I get requirements from them. I need to try on try and understand what they really need. So to have these requirements documents and we go at stuff based on that foxhunt and I send that to the Ukraine guys they have to start analyzing the brain processes text right. I see text I see screenshots and I need to start understanding what these guys are actually triggered. Like what what do they want. And then I start asking questions so you get a whole chain of communication that leads to a lot of misunderstanding. Because if I talk to the client and I put them the wrong way and then I phrased it in the wrong way and send it to Ukraine and they don’t understand it. And then they they may ask me or they may not ask me. You have so many things that go wrong and prevent miscommunication. Try to make contracts right? So you have your big requirements document. You try to sign off everything so that you’re protected because the client doesn’t want to pay for extra work. But but anyway any project that you’ll do that way comes up with extra work with discussions about what was extra what was not or if the project fails completely. So you try to do all this communication upfront and I think it’s better to do less communication less documentation upfront. You know go with the flow a bit more and try to figure out what to build along the way. Not make all those contracts upfront.

[34:09] Yegor: Oh yeah that’s true I agree. And do you think we will need managers in the future in general maybe with this more you know interactive communications and more properly written documentations and more tools. We’re going to have in the future on the market maybe just the position of a manager is becoming less and less important. Or no.

[34:31] Hugo: I do think so because the role of the manager comes from you know a few centuries ago we saw the factories people figured out you have people who make pins in a factory you know make a small part. And then I need a manager to coordinate all that work to make sure that I make the right part of the next guy integrated etc.. So I think these manager positions were created in that era. And then we keep we kept doing that. And right now if you look at I.T. you have a bunch of very smart people not making pins but high high end codes and they can actually manage themselves. They don’t need somebody to tell them what to do they need a manager to manage people. So I think that’s where this Agile methodologies also come from. It’s more about self management so in my own team in India for example in my office we somehow in the last two years we created some layers of hierarchy. And right now we’re trying to kill all of that again so we have a CEO and a COO and all the teams report directly to the COO. So there’s nobody in between. And actually the real the real boss in the whole case is the client whom the team works.So I think I think you know in the future the more smart people get the more autonomous people get the more they can manage themselves as teams instead of having a manager or a boss telling them what to do.

[35:53] Yegor: And what is going to happen to big corporations like Oracle like Google where there are so many levels of hierarchies.

[35:59] Hugo: It’s going to change. I think. You need hierarchy to a certain extent because you know you do need people who are making budgets and tech finance. But you don’t you don’t necessarily need a project manager. You don’t necessarily need a PMO office who is going to say OK this is this is a team that’s assigned to you or this guy has a certain capability. Right. You can you can you can skip a lot of layers if you try to stimulate more autonomy and responsibility for people who really do to work. If you trust them to do the work well. Because as humans we’re just trying to push the envelope to somebody higher up all the time because the manager is there. So I think there’s a lot of redundancy there.

[36:47] Yegor: So we’ll have more for programmers more managers in the future.

[36:48] Hugo: Well I’m not sure about programmers. Yeah exactly. That’s a that’s that’s what it’s about right in the end it’s about delivering the outcomes if you need it if you need somebody to facilitate for that then you know let’s let’s have that, in the end it’s the guys on the ground who produce the work, not the manager.

[37:08] Yegor: But still the managers are way way better paid than programmers and people who are doing actually the work. So they’re like elite elite group of people in the business managers then the highest heights.

[37:19] Hugo: Yeah that’s what makes it hard. Ya the people the people in those positions are the ones who have to change this hierarchy. But they have the least interest in it that’s the problem. So it will take some time.

[37:32] Yegor: So it sounds like it sounds like for that people like you just said but like you said about big companies that’s why every mode is not working for them because maybe there is some manager who doesn’t want that. Maybe that’s why. Sure. Yeah. That’s why working remotely is such are difficult thing to adopt for big companies because the entire layer of management is kind of against that because the more freedom these people get whereas the less power the managers get.

[37:58] Hugo: Yeah exactly. Yes. So that’s step. Exactly. Well that’s that’s what happens actually in the case of I just described in my Indian office when we had let some people go because of this because there is a desire for status was too big. And if you say I’m going to cut out a layer of hierarchy and you’re role is going to change they are not happy they can’t accept that. They have to leave.

[38:18] Yegor: But maybe that’s just the nature of us people. It’s just the nature of US people you know some people like to work and some people like to you know to manage other people there.

[38:29] Hugo: But who likes to be managed?

[38:31] Yegor: Nobody That’s right. But there are so many people who don’t like to work. They just like to be you know a big manager just to dominate over somebody and just get a lot of money from them. And we can’t just we can’t just destroy it. I mean you can’t just get rid of them because they exist.

[38:48] Hugo: Right. So you can train them to change their mindset right. Instead of being this kind of status oriented guy who wants to control people you can become more of a facilitator or a mentor and your ego can still be fat with that. Because if you transfer your wisdom to somebody else you can still have your position but that doesn’t mean you need this higherarchy. I think I mean the more people become servant leaders to help others to become better at what they’re doing. The less I think that you know you don’t necessarily need hierarchy in that case.

[39:21] Yegor: and you’re saying that there’s like you’ve you’ve seen that problem like actual problem with people who you tried to transform and they said no we still want the status.

[39:31] Hugo: Yes. Yes.

[39:33] Yegor: And you fired them.

[39:38] Hugo: Yeah.

[39:39] Yegor: Or you managed to transform them.

[39:41] Hugo: No no in this case a few months back we had to let one person go on the HR side. She felt like you had to go in a higher position and that’s exactly where we didn’t want her to go.

[39:51] Yegor: But do you believe that it’s possible to transform people to like you said to mentor them to train them to coach them to be different or just some people will say no no we want to be.

[40:02] Hugo: Yeah I mean some people say no and it depends on the age. I think that we will see that especially in the IT industry because it’s all about self-management. People that come to other positions later on they’re used to a different way of working. Because they’re used to work self-organized teams so they know OK we don’t really need those leaders were more like- a scrum master for example as a servant leader. He’s a facilitator he’s not a project manager. And the more discussed infected in companies you see that in big enterprises also they start adopting agility and all these concepts that we have in the I.T. side. They start spreading through the company and they start working in scrum teams. Without this mean there’s no position manager and scrum at all. You have a you have a product owner and a scrum master you don’t have a manager.

[40:53] Yegor: So there’s nobody who’s telling people what to do.

[40:55] Hugo: No, exactly. But you can still have your hierarcy because the scrum team has great APIs and they need to report to somebody but inside the team you don’t have any hierarchy. They’re all equal. Yeah. I mean in theory a product owner might still behave like he’s the boss. But he’s not supposed to.

[41:20] Yegor: All sounds interesting. And you see this this in work. So is that the gist of it just the dream or desire to have or you’ve seen the teams working like that without the bosses without anybody controlling people without anybody telling them what to do just as a self-organized.

[41:35] Hugo: So again one of the one of the things that happened in my own Indian office a half year or something I I had a lot of complaints about why people were complaining to me about you know management and direction and even the office facilities etc.. So I got a bit fed up with that and what I did. I put up a board and I said you know with all those sticking with their complaints of sticky notes I said let’s make a board with all the complaints that you have. So I made a scrum board for that and then I asked some people who wants to volunteer to slide tackling those issues those problems or the complaints that people have. And somehow after I left India and came back to Bali, some volunteers came up came up and they started. They started their own rich-improvement plan as they call it and they took all those things and saw the changing it so there were no managers involved and they started fixing their own problems. I think that’s an example of how a self-organized team can actually even fix operational or managerial problems without having without needing the managers.

[42:45] Yegor: And you think the scrum and agile are going to stay on the market because of the technologies and methodologies which we like not going to - we don’t need to change them and improve or because they’re kind of old or we need something new for us now.

[43:00] Hugo: I mean for me agile is more it’s a more like culture or mindset so I think that that’s here to stay and people will start spreading and people start thinking in different ways about organizing work and scrum is very popular at the moment and everything has a curve. So probably scrum is going to be replaced by something else in the next five or 10 years. I don’t know it’s probably at the top now because it gets it’s very popular.

[43:25] Yegor: And if it’s going to be replaced then you know by what or.

[43:31] Hugo: If you look at the statistics that scrum was kind of new were two years back and I think right now 89 percent of I read research a few days back from scrum Alliance 89 percent of the teams are using scrum. Forty five percent of the teams are using common. Few years back there was a lot less so common is picking up. And there’s a few other methodology that I see popping up. Some of them might become more popular.

[43:58] Yegor: But we’re not going to get back to waterfall.

[44:00] Hugo: No I don’t think that’s. No I don’t think so. I think self-organize teams is what what’s going to spread more.

[44:10] Yegor: And we’re going to be removed more and more despite the fact that big companies with huge hierarchies they don’t like that.

[44:17] Hugo: Well maybe I mean maybe some companies will stay completely localized forever I don’t know.

[44:23] Yegor: But it’s a problem for programmers because look if you if you talk to like any any individual or any programmer who is motivated to grow then that person will tell you that they don’t want to work in a big company like Facebook or I don’t know Amazon, because its more interesting because the projects are bigger because because because for many reasons the more money is there but at the same time that companies don’t allow people to work remotely and blah blah blah. So that’s why programmers have to go to small start ups and then work from home. But it’s not enough money there is not enough creativity. The projects are small. That’s kind of a question you know where to go to go remote and be free or.

[44:58] Hugo: But I think the number of freelances has also increased substantially in the last few years. A lot of people can go freelance and they get higher rates and they don’t need to work all the time full time and they can go from project to project.

[45:11] Yegor: Yeah but still it might be as a freelancer like in Silicon Valley if you ask anybody who are you there’s the answer’s going to be I’m a freelancer. It’s kind of a you know it’s an indicator that the programmer is not really a professional because professional programmers they work for Google they work for Amazon. A freelancer is kind of your kind of out of the market you’re doing something you know more serious people can not do. Don’t want to do. That’s nice. That’s what I heard from what I know from Silicon Valley. So I don’t know about the rest of the world though. Maybe in like countries like Russia or India. Being a freelancer is actually an advantage because in that case you get more money but in America I look at the islands and.

[45:49] Hugo: I think in Ukrainian’s really popular a lot of people go the massive amount of freelancers I heard there’s more than a million right now out of a population of 70 million. But in India you know – in Holland I don’t know about Ukraine. I think in the program of population there’s a lot of freelancers as well. Or you creating a distinction between freelancer and employee is not that big. In India for example it’s not popular at all because it’s a it’s driven a lot of people want status or if I tell my family I’m a freelancer it’s not really ok it’s better to say I work for Infosys.

[46:27] Yegor: Exactly exactly the same in America. If you’re a freelancer and means that you don’t have the salary means you’re at risk all the time.

[46:33] Hugo: Yes. So maybe it depends on the country as well.

[46:38] Yegor: So it’s going to change or still the big companies will dominate the market and will have to be employees.

[46:44] Hugo: I think those big companies will keep dominating because even if they have more freelancers hired on their staff there is still you know they’re the big companies the big giants and they and they control a lot of people. I think that will not disappear very soon. I have too much power now. And Facebook wasn’t wasn’t big ten years ago and now they’re considered a big company. They’ll keep buying other companies and.

[47:11] Yegor: Absolutely they keep growing their office. They have a huge campus in Silicon Valley. People are just there in the parking lot of like size of a few football fields.

[47:20] Hugo: And probably people also like working there like going there because of course they all have a life. That’s right. So maybe it’s not for everyone.

[47:30] Yegor: So that’s a summary of our discussion. It’s not for everyone so remote working is not for everyone.

[47:35] Hugo: Let’s agree on that. I’m still looking at my beautiful Bali view. So I still believe it’s great but if you say if you prefer sitting in a cubicle and spending time in traffic jams I can imagine

[47:45] Yegor: Let’s say tomorrow Google or Facebook offer you a job with a well-paid job in their campus but you have to be there full time. What would you say?

[47:51] Hugo: I would never do that because I’m an entrepreneur but I can imagine that for some people it’s attractive.

[47:59] Yegor: Uhu. OK.

[48:00] Hugo: But I would not even know I would not you would not even think would anyone. No no no no.

[48:06] Yegor: It’s a big seller. It’s a good company and a stable future.

[48:12] Hugo: Yeah. But still no. I prefer freedom. I’m doing my own stuff.

[48:16] Yegor: Sounds good. That’s what I like to hear. OK. I think we’re just I had all my questions. Thanks for coming.

[48:24] Hugo: Yeah thanks for having me.

[48:27] Yegor: Enjoy Bali

[48:30] Hugo: I will.

[48:30] Yegor: I’m a little bit envious actually I want to be there too.

[48:34] Hugo: Well you work remotely right so you can just come.

[48:35] Yegor: Ya I’ll visit you that that’s for sure.

[48:38] Hugo: Sounds like a good plan.

[48:40] Yegor: All right. Thanks. See you. Bye bye

[48:45] Hugo: Bye bye.

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