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On the values of systemticks

March 21, 2019, written by Sebastian K├Ânig, sebastian.koenig@systemticks.de

Prologue

We are still in the early childhood of our joint undertaking systemticks. So many things need to be set up.

One habit we like to establish is a two day off-site meeting, once a month. Given the fact that we don’t share an office, the term off-site is a curious choice. Still it is valid, as we meet at a location that is neither one’s office address. We do talk every day via Skype, but real life face time, we think, is crucial for maintaining team spirit.

For the past two such events, we chose to set an ambitious agenda. We had a lot to discuss. Finance, technical decisions, risk management, all of which are important factors of our company’s success.

In the end, though, results stood behind our expectations. We felt the pressure of needing to achieve something but also missed the time of talking freely.

So we needed to change that.

Continuous Improvement

Originally, we thought, there are these many threads when running a company and each of them needs to be addressed regularly. Hence, why not use the time when we are not drowned in projects for concentrating on all of these? We reserve a slot for every topic and tick them off one after the other.

For some time, that worked …​ but around coffee break in the afternoon, you could read our faces. There was no mental room left for constructively drafting a strategy for our website or discussing the future architecture of EB solys.

Last time was different. We only set one main point on the agenda. We took the time to freely discuss our ideas and structure them on the go. This worked a lot better. In the end, we still left out a few points that we wanted to discuss, but the amount of tangible results outweighed the amount of touched topics.

Communication

During these workshops, it is very important to give room to everyones experience and viewing angle. So is intervening when a discussion is leaving track with no return in sight.

We are three founders with very similar and very different backgrounds at the same time. Similar in terms of social situation, logistical challenges or technical domain. Different in experience, approach to problems, focus areas and of course personality. This can be a powerful mix but can obviously also lead to collisions every now and then.

But always, there is one point, that unites us.

Desire to Improve Software Projects

We want to improve the way, large scale software projects are executed.

We specialize in distributed trace analysis, because we think this is an often neglected area and because it matches our technical skill set. We don’t do this just for fun. Although it is very satisfying to prepare some trace data and craft an analysis script with the result of actually finding an issue. However, if it was not for the purpose of giving the project teams more insight into their systems - more system understanding - to build better quality products, we would miss out on a very important aspect.

We don’t just like to sell more "stuff" - we want to bring you forward. This will always be a learning path for you and us as well.

Reflection

Coming back to our off-site meeting. This time was about how to create a bigger audience for our company and our services. Most call it marketing.

We do have customer projects and we feel, we had a good start business-wise. Still, we are struggling to get our message across. Maybe, the message is not clear enough, maybe, it needs more time preparing and having conversations.

Our current strategy is to tell our view of the story piece by piece in this blog, on Twitter and in speaking engagements.

We hope to get more ears listening, more eyes reading and finally more conversations started. In the end, we hope for sustainable business for us but only if we make your projects and products better.

Epilogue

Within our mainly technical blog series, we also like to tell the story of systemticks. The ideas behind our company, the challenges we face and the developments we go through. In the end, we are human beings and things will not always work like machines. In software development, I feel, we often like to handle everything using tools, even if they are management tools. This can give structure and speed up progress, but often problems are solved by simple listening, thinking and talking.