Project manager or Scrum Master? Should Yesenin live today and should he be in my old All Stars, maybe he’d say: Who am I, what am I, I am just a dreamer… of project management?
But since he’s not and since we don’t want to dream and think more than we should, I’m gonna tell you a story of the Certified Agile Scrum Masters course. CEO and Co-Founder of Agile Humans, Jasmina Nikolic, taught us some new stuff and it’s safe to say that she resolved some doubts that we probably had.
Let’s start from the beginning – What is Scrum?
By definition, Scrum is a framework which helps people, teams and organizations to generate added value through adapting to complex problems.
To put it simply – Scrum is an agile way of thinking, a system of principles and values, which are suited for fast paced changes and the environment a modern enterprise does business in. It comes down to the responsibility of an individual, really, but since it’s a tool for teams, all of them combined count for a compact team, with all the synergy involved.
Foundation of the methodology is based on 12 principles of Scrum. You can find and analyze them here, but if you want to dissect it, the Scrum manifesto could be read through four points.
- Individuals and interactions are beyond processes and tools
- Working software is beyond comprehensive, thorough documentation
- Buyers’ cooperation is beyond contract negotiations
- An answer to instant changes is beyond any plan
What does it all mean? If you ask someone who is in this business for a long time and maybe old-fashioned, they will tell you that these four points are a “mission impossible” and they can never be true.
Main issue with “traditional” management teachings is that they never got to the bottom of the importance of changes, especially those that happen out of the blue, during the process itself. And that is the core belief of Scrum methodology.
Let’s talk about Scrum values
At this point you understand that the sole individual, his characteristics and roles and what he/she contributes to the team is of most importance.That’s because all of those values are then transferred to the team.
Scrum makes an individual special, but as a member of the team. To put that into perspective, we have to talk about key values of every part of small Scrum team:
- Openness – all of the team members and other parties must be open regarding work processes and all the challenges during the project
- Respect – all of the team members respect independent thinking and abilities of the people working they work with
- Commitment – everybody must be committed to the to the goals of the Scrum team
- Focus – everybody must be committed to the processes of the Scrum team
- Courage – this might be the most important trait for all the people involved who are brave enough to deal with tough situations
When Jasmina asked, which of these five values would be most challenging for us, as someone who is just beginning to scratch knowledge of agile methodologies I said: What i’m most afraid of is courage.
We laughed for a couple of minutes to my clumsy formulated sentence, and I don’t like to brag (I do), but she said that she hasn’t had a better answer in some time.
But it wasn’t the wrong answer and it doesn’t contradict Scrum itself. Because, you see, courage doesn’t mean lack of fear. On the contrary. It means having fear and overcoming it, by following all of the rules of Scrum methodology.
Main link in Scrum team – Scrum Master. What does he/she do?
- Promotes and supports Scrum by helping others to understand Scrum theory, practice, rules and values
- Makes sure that the team is fully functional and productive
- Smashes obstacles, builds transparency and widens adaptive culture
- Mediates between all the parties involved
- Makes a schedule and invites for ceremonials (well-known team meetings), facilitates all of them
- Protects the team from outside influences
Different Scrum Masters – different types of Scrum Masters
- Facilitator – the aim of facilitation is to ease the process and to guide the team (the one who supports, encourages, gives counsel)
- Mentor – this one is simple – he teaches others
- Teacher – passes the Scrum knowledge
- Coach – asks questions and seeks no answers, but helps team members to figure them out on their own (so-called co-active role)
Let’s take a step back – to theory and definitions of Srcum roles. Scrum team should be 10 members tops, and there are only three roles:
- Scrum Master – a person who completely owns Scrum methodology and passes it onto other team members, by following all the principles
- Product owner – a person who can be portrayed as a decision maker. It’s mostly someone on the client side, in charge of communicating about everything the product needs and how he/she sees the final version of the product. Also, he/she handles all the stakeholders
- Developers / team members – developers, designers, system architects… whoever is building the product and working towards main Scrum goals
So, if the Scrum team has only three roles, we come to the question – what the hell is, conventionally called – Project manager?
By the Scrum definition, Project Manager covers two positions actually – Product Owner and Scrum Master. That means that he/she is responsible for communicating with clients and team and all of the decisions, ergo – the consequences of those decisions, too.
So, is this an outdated method of project management? Sure. Because it’s hard for Project Manager to know all of stakeholders’ concerns as Product Owner should. On the other hand, he/she can’t be committed to the team as much as the Scrum Master. Agile ways of doing things and slow or non-existent adjustments are not compatible. And, it seems that an agile way of thinking is at the core of every successful project.
So, where’s Bild in this Scrum story?
I know that most of the clients (all of them, really) don’t have their own Product Owner. So, I thought – we won’t be able to use Scrum methodology.
But I was wrong. Why? Because, even though Scrum thrives on well established rules, models and principles, it doesn’t exist in its original form when it comes to doing business. Luckily, there are a number of hybrid models which work. One of those is the Spotify hybrid model. It shows how you can use Scrum and disassemble it to take everything you need from it and adjust it for your organizational structure. That is, if you really want to be agile.
So, what comes next? Further agilisation and hybridisation of all the things out there and implementing everything that we’ve learned. In the end, to give you a brief answer to a question from the top: Yes, I want to trade manager for a master in me.
This story wouldn’t be half as good if I forgot to mention all of the samurai who were there with Jasmina and me:
2020. was Rock&Roll and we opted to dance in the rhythm opposite to the music.
Come March last year, we had to optimize. Bild Studio, at that moment 75 strong, was pretty clear about two things: tough times were heading our way and we were not going to let any of our people go! At that point we relied on our skills and perseverance as a team. And karma. Why karma? Well, because it paid us back big time later on.
Opening new markets
Since its inception, Bild has been oriented towards providing all kinds of services related to software development, web development and design (in general) to a broader European market. So far, we’ve been successful in the Benelux and DACH area. Today we are a recognized premium partner to many enterprises championing disruptive technologies.
Bild Studio has been recognized as a Top 30 B2B Website Design Companies in 2021 by DesignRush.
Also, 2020. gave us a platform to increase our reach and find new partners.
It all began with development of a new Funzi e-learning platform. Funzi uses robust mobile technology to make courses accessible anywhere, anytime and they are optimized for easy learning. Funzi’s unique mobile pedagogy is an innovative and scientifically-proven method designed for learning. To help learners digest information, courses include: learning in bite-sized portions, quizzes and final exams. The courses are not tied to deadlines and allow users to learn at their own pace.
- Back-End Developer: MongoDB, NodeJS
- Project Management: Atlassian Jira, Confluence, Notion, Slack
Tech-talent discovery SaaS Talent Alpha from Krakow was in need of a website redesign. Bild got the task of developing, testing and producing it. Our teams used a custom WordPress theme with Gutenberg live editor editing capabilities. Regarding CSS frameworks, we chose bootstrap with all its SASS modules. Talent Alpha was ready to shine at their big company celebration and to brag about their fully refurbished online presentation.
UNIQA Insurance Group AG is an international giant and so far Bild Studio has provided many services for their branches all around Europe. UNIQA Pure is a digital insurance platform which aims to provide a 100% online self-service to its customers. Platform currently offers online purchase and management of household and travel insurance with plans to further expand its product portoflio.
In 2021. we continue to work on new upgrades for international heavyweights, such as our long-term partner Telekom Crna Gora, among others.
Birth of our own products
Bild Studio entered 2020. with great hopes. Our projections for the upcoming year hit record levels. Clients and projects kept coming. Big and small. But, all of a sudden, nice chunk of it came to a halt. Instead of panic (and we thought about it) we decided to go all-in and use the situation to our advantage.
To build things our way it takes time, patience and lots of forward thinking people. To shorten the process we decided to create a centralized system, which will serve as a hub for the upcoming projects.
“Design system is a set of guidelines, standards, components and patterns which combined allows us to standardize and cover big portion of interface use cases. That way we can create loads of web applications that aren’t necessarily custom solutions.”Danko Keković, design system creator
Design system is meant to speed up design and development processes, to raise quality and consistency of the final products and to enhance communication and work processes among teams involved. Google Material Design System is the foundation for the whole operation. It’s probably going to be an open source tool, which ultimately means that other enterprises looking to upgrade their business operations can enjoy it no strings attached.
Bild ERP is our baby which will ignite the change in our working practices and set sail towards product-oriented markets. The idea is to enhance automatization of internal processes, standardization of knowledge and working procedures. All that through our newly set “design driven development system”, which guarantees the best UX&UI practices. The plan is to test it in 2021. Then, we intend to try it out on the market in 2022.
Also, we’ve talked about Mennoo…
Behind the curtain
All of the services on our menu are underpinned by a strong multi-split web of communication between various departments. Sales, Finances and our HR people are constantly developing new tactics to ensure that things go as smoothly as they are supposed to, that deadlines are met, that the finances are on point.
Our main goal for the 2021./2022. is to attract even more highly qualified engineers. We’ve never been more open to new colleagues and trying new things, as we expect to grow to more than a 100 people over the ongoing year. But, let us talk you through that in a separate story.
“I will have a burger to go, extra bbq sauce and lots of chillies.” How many times did you say this one? The sole purpose of fast food is to get you going through the day, on foot, so you could focus on the job and other daily tasks. Having an unhealthy meal is one thing, but how often do you think of your friends and family? When was the last time you had a greasy spicy burger with them?
Healthy lifestyle is a hostage to this modern era we live in and, unfortunately, it’s all our fault. F&F, too. Additionally, the circumstances we witness at the moment, such as COVID-19 are forcing us to adapt and overcome. We work from home, we are dependent on delivery and ultimately we don’t see many people that much anymore. Bearing all that in mind, a group of young entrepreneurs decided to change the narrative. Our partner, Marko Miročević, and one of our many teams joined forces to create a brand new app to tackle aforementioned problems.
Behold: Mennoo – Meet & Eat.
Another question: how many times you had to wait for your food and you are in a hurry and starving? Mennoo is designed to solve that particular issue. Using the Mennoo app you can schedule your meal at your favorite restaurant and the food will be steaming hot on your plate when you arrive. All you have to do is: pick the location, meal and time. The system will automatically put it in your calendar. You’ll get the notification 10 minutes prior. And, voila.
Other than an easy and flawless appointment system, Mennoo offers healthy ingredients monitoring / nutritional calculator to take care of your calories intake. If you want to stay fit, or you want to burn some extra fat – Mennoo is there for you.
Mennoo is not your everyday food app. Instead, it takes care of your social life, too. Using the Mennoo app you can call your colleagues, friends, grandmother, aunt, even parents to enjoy a lunch or a dinner with. They can choose their healthy meal, also. And if you want to brag because you have lots of money – Menoo has an option which lets you pay for everyone. So, if you want to forget about splitting bills and losing time doing that… Mennoo’s got you covered. And it saves time.
Junk food no more
All the functionalities gathered under a Mennoo banner are the result of thorough research of our focus groups. This app is for those who stare at the computer for most part of the day, for businesswomen and businessmen, CEO’s and other “C”-worthy title holders. Of course, Mennoo is the perfect match for all those who are not on the executive level, but rather do the “field work” and don’t have time to think about healthy food, or to wait for it. On average – Mennoo saves around 30 minutes per meal. Admit it. It’s sometimes a precious time which you could use for something else than waiting for your food, for sure.
On the other hand, we spoke to caterers. They told us that the food preparation is a slow and difficult process. Their chefs are overburdened and that’s one of the reasons why people wait on their meals. Using Mennoo, caterers can solve multiple issues: operational planning, better table turnover, better no-show rates. Using the app you are certain that the quality of your food is impecable, because it can’t be stale. Plus – you are saving the environment. Just think of all the packaging that’s left for junk after you’re finished with your take-out or delivery food.
Mennoo is at the prototype stage at the moment. Its creators are on the hunt for potential investors.
That’s where you come in and we could use your help. Mennoo is on the Bits&Pretzels platform and the goal is to be among 8 others who will get the chance to present their ideas and end up with funding.
If we earn some money, we promise to take you out on a fine dinner, using Mennoo app. Our treat.
It happened during some year, although I don’t remember which exactly. All I know is that it was a ‘transition’ or at least that’s how we called it. The rains were easing off, the sun was taking over and you could feel a certain unease in the air. We knew that something was going on even though there was nothing in sight. A general sense of discomfort was lingering, inviting to caution. We were listening in. Those ‘above’ were talking. Those ‘below’ were nodding along, as always. There was talk about an invisible enemy. Neighbors were talking about war. We gathered and considered the situation, organized quickly and without too many words. And then… we waited.
The first sign of crisis that year (the year itself will turn out to be long and challenging) a pact was made. Those with experience (and those without) realized that the only option and that we could only stick together in a challenging situation. Times of crisis get the most out of people – what comes out in the immediate is that which is usually repressed and pushed back in everyday life: empathy, care for your fellow woman or man and the yearning to come out victorious. Defeat is not an option. Unless it is, if only an extremely stupid one.
During that ‘transition’ we’ve quietly overcome our differences, set up the basis of our strategy and waited for the moment. We knew that the time will come and that we’d have to take radical measures. Nobody wanted a war. It’s been years since any one of us held a gun in our hands. But war came to us, not the other way around.
As with every transition, on that day the weather was changing. It was gloomy. Sun was behind the clouds but that light worked for us, or so I thought. We moved out of our base with a spring in our step, as one. But right around the corner, from a clearing behind it we heard a loud: BANG!
- _motorbreath down. _motorbreath down!
The team has lost its weakest link. Some of us privately thought that that’s probably for the better. _motorbreath was ‘green’, a newbie – a lizard. He was inaugurated to a brotherhood of experienced, wicked fighters in hopes of getting good. He didn’t hold, despite his desire to prove his worth. Death of a first comrade brought stubborness and spite to the others. A few long seconds later, Vladimir Ilych Ulyanov held the same spot that he held when he saw his comrade drop with peripheral vision. The steady hand of an old wolf didn’t take long. BANG! The first opponent got some of what _motorbreath was served only seconds prior. The odds were even again.
At that moment a tactical decision was made. A crew will take the left flank to cut off the enemy. The other crew will go throught the middle, conventionally known as ‘mid’.
They called us Terrorists at the time. We called them Counter-Terrorists, cynically. For us they were characters, avatars, that we wanted to run over. It’s necessary to mention that if that sounds brutal, they wanted even worse for us. This was a fight to death, literally a math battle with a lot of audio components. Only one can come out on top, reach the ‘stars’ and get promotions, ranks etc.
The crew that went to the left circled around the bend and tried to listen to the opponents’ movements. Even though they were generally out in the open, they had a few cover positions they could use to stave off a surprise attack. And a surprise attack they got, suddenly – bullets flying everywhere. Fortunately (for us anyways) they managed to get to cover. Then the ace entered the field. The brute force of the team.
- Get in position and wait for my go. – said Ranbo;
- Maybe we wanna push now when they’re not expecting – Rendom answered.
Phacelift, in accordance with his life’s teachings, was patient and waited for the final decision to be reached. They went with the first option.
As soon as the shooting stopped from the other side of the clearing, Ranbo peaked with his AK47 and cut one of them down. Adrenaline and a subsequent rush of blood to the head fused plans A and B into one single hot mess. Everyone left their position and started spraying left, right and centre. Grenades flew everywhere. Half blind from the flashbangs, Phacelift and Rendom knocked two more guys out. Not without consequences, as the third took Rendom down with them. He retreated, though – the gamble has paid off and the left flank was now secure and cleared of enemy presence. I guess that’s what they mean when they say that ‘it’s all in the game’.
On the other side of the battlefied, much as he did in his civilian life, Vladimir Ilych Ulyanov took over the baton and rallied the troops. Neatly, as was expected. Pakito14, Savopecki, Gin&Juice and Struks grouped inside of abandoned objects and waited for directions.
The plan was to create an elaborate trap, a ruse, a triangle in which the enemy will get into and get cannoneered into oblivion. If that doesn’t go through, the backup plan was to split into teams of two men each. And if that didn’t work (as it usually happens with matters of war) the team was to revert to a desperate default: every man for himself. After a long fast that saw no enemy blood spilled, Vladimir Ilych Ulyanov ordered the troops to dig out and move. But the hated enemy was ready.
- Moving through the appartments, one window, one door. – hollered Ulyanov.
- I see one. – said Gin&Juice, decapitating one enemy with an AWP.
- Spakito, shift and we move together. – said Savopecki.
- I’m watching our backs. – relied Struks calmly.
Carnage ensued, the enemy was spraying from windows, balconies, doors… Struks got hit in his hip and through his loin but his devotion to the cause was stronger than the pain. He got up and with his last breath hit an enemy, dragging the poor bastard down with him. His last thoughts were about his comrades. Not too far ahead, Savopecki was breaking enemy lines and exchanging fire while Pakito14 was glancing over his shoulder and waiting to get his first kill.
- I’ve hit him but he won’t go down, goddammit. – Savopecki whined.
Just as it happened on the left flank, the one that Ranbo and Phacelift broke through and ran to meet the others, Pakito and Savopecki were eager to get through the line and conclude this battle ASAP. Even though they contributed by wounding opponents, an enemy sniper put an end to their little misadventure and their episode ended before the final victory could be achieved.
Weakened, but not demotivated, Ranbo, Phacelift, Ulyanov and Gin&Juice surrounded the enemy and drove them into a corner. They had the numbers, after all. They came in from two sides and had the enemy pinned down in the location known as ‘A’.
- Moving in on 3, 2, 1… – Ranbo counted off.
- Roger that. – Phacelift replied.
Overwhelming noise ripped through the air. The two scoundrels that took Savopecki and Pakito14 down were soon downed themselves. And just as they caught a glimpse of victory a click was heard. Ranbo was the only one calm enough to realize that they had to regroup and get a better position from which to oversee the action. He took cover and saw his comrade Phacelift go down under overwhelming defensive fire.
The scales were tipped back to zero. We were back at the beginning, they were as numerous as us. They lost as much as we had. They must have felt the same resolve, the same rage and the same boneheaded resolve to outlast the enemy.
But then, something happened that nobody could have foreseen and nobody could have influenced.
At the beginning of the crisis, our crew had more men – some were written off at the start and some participated occasionally. And now, when we needed it most, we got reinforcements. I wouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth, would you?
Hamster Rhino arrived at the last minute, realizing that he cared about his comrades more than selling stuff to foreigners (which is what he did before the crisis and the crisis itself only intensified his immaculate salesmanship). With his trusty Negev that he affectionately called ‘Piglet’ he appeared inside of the base. He used some sort of compass to figure out his team’s location and started strutting towards them, weighed down by his rifle.
While the three of our finest played a prolonged, painful chess game with high stakes Hamster Rhino had no intention of participating in calculations and paid no mind to plans. Galvanized by a guilty conscience or a rush of blood to the head, he suddenly appeared where he was least expected! Nobody got what was going on in the first instance and nobody could have seen him coming. He bravely dealt some damage to the nemesis. Piglet’s song was heard across the battlefield as bullets stuck and bounced off of heavy wooden structures and riddled the walls… and then he fell.
One could say he sold something, again. His health and armor in return for a higher purpose.
Ranbo, Ulyanov and Gin&Juice used the confusion and attacked, this time with full force. Ulyanov stuck his neck out to draw the opponent out in the open. An enemy fell to one of the last bullets left in the chamber of his Deagle.
- Boys I’ll draw them out and you hit them with everything you’ve got. I’ve got no more health and waiting these guys out is pointless. – Those turned out to be Ulyanov’s last words.
All of our hopes fell on the shoulders of our Achilles, our William Wallace – Ranbo and his steady comrade, that long range uxtreme Gin&Juice.
Spurred on by the premature elimination of Ulyanov, the enemy changed the pace and went on the offense. Gin&Juice tried to use the terrain to his advantage and assault the enemy through a narrow gap on the main wall but milimeters worked against him. He was dealt a bad hand by that cruel mistress, Fate, and his life was taken by the very tool he used to take other people’s lives during his long career.
And just like that, it all fell apart. No more maths, no more calculations, no more chess moves and thinking five steps ahead. Ranbo alone against an elite enemy. Those that scalped all of his friends and comrades, both those with experience and those without. All of them were not up to the task. A question popped into his mind briefly – he asked himself whether he’s the one to overcome in the name of his fallen friends. He recollected the days and hours of strenuous preparation, weeks of blood sweat and tears it took to bring him to this moment. A challenge like no other. Will he become a hero everyone expected him to become? LeBron or Darko Miličić… There was no point and no time to think about it too much. The pressure was on.
- Okay, let’s go. – he whispered to himself.
He knew that rascals and deviants, which his enemies undoubtedly were, appreciate their health points more than anything. They’d never risk exposure or risk anything at all. They chose the terrain accordingly.
He first checked the terrace and scanned below it for any movement. There was noone around and things became clearer – they were in the pit! However many of them there were was unclear. It was then that he knew he had the element of surprise on his side. He glanced the enemy, worked out that he was alone in the pit (they separated!) and then quietly snuck around him as the enemy was scanning the distance for any sight or inkling as to where Ranbo is. Little did he know that Ranbo, quiet and nimble as a shadow, was already behind him. He made a few noisy steps to alert the enemy of his presence and took out a combat knife given to him by Ulyanov when he was joining the squad. He plunged the knife deep between the enemy’s ribs with a slight smile on his face.
- One down, one to go. – he took a deep breath and got ready for the final duel.
During any conflict, it bears remembering one fact above every other. No matter how little we think about the people on the other side of the conflict from our side, it’s necessary to know that they went through the same training, faced the same (or worse!) challenges and got the same drill.
Ranbo was acutely aware of this and went out to seek his prey. His hunter instinct kicked in. All of what happened before was irrelevant. The unknowns particularly so. He was in his element, no outside influences, just him doing what he was trained and designed to do.
30 seconds later he heard footsteps. Danger was imminent. He snuck up to the site, which he correctly identified as the only spot where the remaining Counter Terrorist could be. He could smell the enemy’s fear. He improvised and tossed a grenade to one side to fool the enemy. He quietly went the other way, opening the map and his shooting angles. Luckily, the enemy bit into the bait and went out to seek his inevitable demise. Ranbo was scanning from his new position on the side and caught a glimpse of his enemy. A loud BANG echoed. For a second, everything was quiet.
Ranbo was an alias, a different persona of sorts. The one that loved company even though he’d never admit it. He remembered his comrades by name, one by one: _motorbreath, Rendom, Pakito14, Savopecki, Phacelift, Hamster Rhino, Vladimir Ilič Uljanov, Gin&Juice…
Of course, there were others there that made the difference but couldn’t help at the time. The best of us went out to become a freelancer even though we never knew what that meant. The one we called ‘boss’ always hyped up his arrival but never came.
All of that went through the head of that colossus, that bastion of freedom we all believed in. Ranbo, who covered everyone’s back and helped those who needed him stood alone. His vision was blurry. Emotions flatlined. He was exhausted, no gas left in the tank. Driving down a slope, not in gear. Just cruising.
He looked up at the sky and the sun that was breaking from their cover. The same sky _motorbreath hoped will play to their advantage at the beginning of the game. He looked down upon his weapon, the AK47 he so loved. There was blood everywhere.
He was alive. The screen showed ’12 Health Remaining’ and ‘Terrorists Win’, followed by an FPS equivalent of elevator music.
He started hearing elated, joyous voices that were congratulating him. All of those that couldn’t be with him in the moment. And then he remembered…
- Discord, dude. Inferno is a pain in the ass, let’s play Assault next.
- Well done Bole. You slapped these guys as if they were a bunch of marmots. – said Ulyanov.
- YEEEEEEEEESSS – yelled Savopecki.
- Boys, next time we’ll have to do better than this. – Struks said.
- Oh my god… – Pakito14 murmurred.
- Jeez Louise – Gin&Juice breathed out with a slight hint of sarcasm in his voce.
- Anybody got a gun to throw at me? – asked Rendom.
- AFK. BRB. – Phacelift quickly said, getting up to get some water.
Hamster Rhino celebrated quietly in the temple of his mind. His wife and child were sound asleep and he wouldn’t dare wake them up. _motorbreath had no mic, but wrote:
In the warmth of our homes on March 16, 2020. we have celebrated a decade of our existence. We have reached the point where we look at the pictures from 10 years ago and realize that, after all, we did get a little bit older. But, as sworn optimists, we still believe that our time is yet to come.
“I love him who has a free spirit and a free heart: thus his head is only the guts of his heart; his heart, however, causes his going under.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra.
I would be lying if I said that this quote did not remind me of Bild in the first place. More precisely, of the first five years, while we were still learning the basic lessons from the subject Nature and Society of Business of a digital agency in a market like ours.
The founders didn’t know about fear 10 years ago, they knew about the courage and (irrevocable) desire. Fear is something that the time later brought, when they realized what they were getting into, I can sign that. But the pitcher of fear (and other exciting things) overflowed after 2015 with the conquest of the international market. That’s when we won stability. Conditionally speaking stability, we were just at the beginning, but the picture was becoming clearer about how and where we should move. Today that stability is being managed by Denis, together with Dejo, Saša and Darko.
Of course, every successful step gave us room to experiment. In fact, it would often take us five steps back. But it is something that we, stubbornly, do not give up. Exploring and playing with fire in new, unconquered fields. But, Bild evolved as an organism, whose organs took over their functions over time, and that never allowed us to rush too far. When things escalate, there is always someone to pull the brake, sometimes it’s Batrić, sometimes some other manager, but to be honest, it’s mostly women. Sashka, Milica, Dženita, my humbleness, or as Tarik would say “The mothers of Bild.” It’s a little known fact that by using this phrase he actually sensed us changing diapers.
We are proud of the people who are here, and the people who have been here. With the energy we have invested in projects. With the team of voluntary blood donors led by Darko. With clients who trusted us and from whom we learned. With the partners with whom we initiated various actions. With team buildings to remember. Oh, we are especially proud of them. :) With women who are our great driving force, I mentioned only a few but it’s fair to say that Bild without Azra would be like a plant without water. Do we have enough of them? Of course not.
If you’re wondering how we got here, we probably don’t even know ourselves. The common denominator of this struggle is toughness and, not to forget, perseverance. Is struggle too pathetic and a difficult word for a blog post that celebrates 10 years? It’s not. If you ask me, as long as we work in the domestic market, it is still a struggle. As with many other agencies, which, regardless of experience, still often play for survival. The optimism about the idea of working on domestic market has left the building long time ago. By simple mathematics, for our ambitions, the work here is not paid adequately. Not only the creative sector, but also IT, which now makes the majority of the company. Are there any clients we like to work with here? Of course there are, but they are rare, just as much as truffles.
Have we had burnouts? Yes, on several occasions and on several fronts. Are we proud of that? No, but we tend to make them lessons for us. Did I mention that there are 70 of us? And we are going to the number 100?
Will the international market solve all our problems? Of course not. Winning the next step of stability makes the challenge greater. It makes us grind teams and become more responsible to the time we have at our disposal. Do roses bloom in our work with foreigners? It just depends on us and the level of professionalism. One thing is for sure, there is less fear when there is more knowledge and experience. Because no matter the market, excellence finds its way to success.
Junior Vs senior, who will be the sultan instead of the sultan?
Many of us started our working life in Bild, some were not helped by previous experience in the field of setting records in the number of working hours. Some proudly keep these records framed in special drawers, to remind them of the time of frying and gaining knowledge. And we would all like to work with seniors. And if it’s possible, to become seniors overnight. Joke aside, we are very aware that no one has started their working life as a senior yet. And as much as we work on educating our teams (everyone knows that internship is our middle name), we put the same effort on educating clients.
We strive to constantly improve the work ways and procedures. We measure everything that is measurable. For now, it has been shown that everything that could be measured could be improved. We test the organization with different models. We don’t squint at mistakes. We often make an elephant out of a fly. But we continue to grow and learn. We have even reconciled with the fact that some things are impossible to be accomplished. Something we still haven’t managed to do for example, is to get Dacho on the phone, from the first try.
We will dare to increase software exports over the next five years and earn 100% from foreign clients. Actually no, not 100%, we will save at least 5% for our first and most loyal domestic clients. All our forces are focused on that, at least for now.
We will dare to test the four-day work week. The possibility of remote work is, in accordance with the new situation, just on the test. We will also push for the continuation of the project of providing housing for employees. In case we didn’t buzz enough about that, we made 18 apartments, don’t mind, but that’s something that should be buzzed about. From the heels we try to improve the quality of life of all individuals, to give everyone space for expression. And we are immensely grateful for what we have achieved. First of all, to the members of the team, the present ones and all those who have been with us during all these years, and who we will always call Bild members.
Happy 10 years to all of us, Cheers!
It’s nice to see your high school dreams come true. One of mine was to visit Finland – the cradle of metal music. That might suggest that the country is loud. In reality it’s completely different. My superior didn’t even want to speak to me at some point. Not because I am a bad listener or company (I hope), but because it’s so silent, that simple talking comes as a disturbance to the quiet. It felt like everything could harm that strange harmony of low frequencies made by wind and sea. To put it short – the first impression was that the Finns are not loud folks. Even the trams didn’t make that squeaky noise on the tracks. Car sirens and traffic impatience are non-existent. But there is one stereotype which came out true – Finns are mostly blond. And, why did we go there? It wasn’t our intention to measure how really blond Finnish people are, but to attend one of the leading startup events today, called – Slush.
Upon arrival, our Airbnb host greeted us wearing woolen socks, made by his grandmother. That got us talking… He gave us a few tips and after three flights that day, 1kg of grilled meat and not a chance of buying beers after 9 p.m. we gave up and fell into our first Nordic sleep. Next morning – shock! There was no shower cabin or a bathtub in the, rather small, bathroom. There was only a nozzle connected to the sink and a drain… If, by this point, you think – why in hell would someone write about taking shower in Helsinki, think again. It’s just one example of understanding the culture of Finland. And if I had to put it in one word, I would call it – simplicity.
Equally simple was to get around Helsinki and arrive to the Slush venue: down the street, then left across the bridge, through the projects on the right and that was it. We’ve checked previous years on Slush online, but nothing could prepare us for what was coming up. Being hard-working Montenegrins as we are, we came a bit early. We circled around the big venue, (my superior was terrified by the Nordic videos) and we were ready for a DJ set. But that was another shock because there wasn’t one, but two DJs on the stage. All that at 10 a.m! Jokes aside, DJs were in charge of the opening ceremony and the whole venue, dark atmosphere and neon lights made the impression that we were at some night club for real, waiting for the highlight of the night. Slush cultivates that dark, one could say – northern vibe. And there was no natural light around whatsoever. Literally.
With our pupils dilated, we listened to the opening speeches and got on with what we came to do.
Big corporations such as Microsoft, Samsung, Porsche had their own huge booths, so did the successful startups like Revolut, Voi… We were interested in scale-ups and up-comers. They all had their own space and every one of them got an exclusive chance to speak to two guys with strange English accent. Most of them are in the fintech. Different platforms designed to help people transfer their money skipping banking interests we couldn’t even count. They all had their own special functionalities which their makers think could get them more clients. Other than that, Slush brought together startups who are trying to optimize business operations. Like those before them, these too weren’t something new, but had some “catch” to them. Coming third, there were so many health-related platforms. In so many ways Finns and other Europeans are trying to use innovative solutions – software and AI, to help people solve their health issues. Asian colleagues came with robots, of course, and that’s what got us scared. Because some of them, like the ones from South Korea, were so far in the future, that their competition from western Europe or USA could only envy their ideas and solutions. Smart trackers for the goods and online music workshop for kids got our attention, among others.
Regarding feedback to two guys coming from relatively tech-marginalised Balkans, it went off very well. People mostly asked us what we do and what’s the situation with Montenegrin tech community. Some weren’t that interested in hearing what we had to say, yet some were very curious. We’ve already made some contacts which could result in business cooperation in the coming days.
One blog post is not enough to describe the experience from Slush. Volunteers make the spine of the organization, which is close to perfect. Everything ticks like a clockwork. Our event passes were waiting for us at the airport, and the girls and boys at the venue were so helpful with everything that one could ever need. But above all, audio/video experience was truly unique and out of this world. It was strange and different, but memorable. If you forget the dark and blackness, one could get all that he asked for : from motivational speakers, face-to-face meetings, over the Avatar-like “secret garden” made for rest, concluding with the Finnish sauna. There was afterwork entertainment, too, but we took care of ourselves on our own. Our recommendation: irish pub – Moly Malone’s.
When it comes to Helsinki itself… It’s special. If you wonder if it’s expensive city, let me put it this way: a pint of beer in Helsinki costs three times more than in Berlin, which means it’s 7-8 times more expensive than in the capital of Montenegro. Fridge magnet is around 7€. But, groceries and cosmetics in the supermarket are at the Montenegrin level prices. It’s safe to say that Helsinki is not that cold as you would expect. Outside temperature at the end of November is around zero, which didn’t pose a problem to the guys coming from continental Montenegro. And the most impressive thing about this city is that it gives you the feeling that you are in several cities at the same time. At one point you feel like you are in some Russian outback, next thing you know – you are in Belgrade, and then you get around the corner and you find yourself on the streets of one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. Big heads up for those who intend to visit Finland is – DON’T CALL THEM SCANDINAVIANS! Finns are simply – Nordics.
That was our adventure called Slush 2019. summed up. It was a really great experience with lots and lots of kilometers beneath our feet. But it was worth it. We got to know this new culture – both social and businesswise. We’ve met some really great people, inventors and those who could be catalysts of the new world order. With Finland in the books, we are looking forward to new countries, cities and people. Until then…
What if I told you that the digital revolution is rooted deeply into our everyday lives, so much so, that if someone dared to take away our phones, we’d become anxious, our palms would sweat and our voices would quiver. Or at least that was what “Blaze the trail” keynote from the “Spark.me” conference said.
The role of the ice breaker was awarded to Peter Shankman, whom the New York Times called “the rock star who knows everything about social networks,” although he asked us to call him Lord of the Skies.
Peter talked about the importance of audience power. “Having an audience is not a right, but a privilege” – we all publish something nowadays, but how much any of it makes sense, and whether we actually receive the attention of the online followers is nearly impossible to tell. However, should you wish to remain authentic, here’s a tip: ‘Brand everything you do!”
The American rock’n’roll was followed by British punk, with a touch of irony and seriousness. Jason Miller – Director of Brand Marketing for the EMEA Region at Microsoft, entered the stage with a daring question ‘Will the machine replace people?’
Combining artificial intelligence and human creativity surely sounds interesting. Nonetheless, the fact that by 2020 we will talk more with bots, but with spouses, caught us unprepared.
After the coffee break, Cate Murden appeared on the Spark.me scene.
It turned out that Cate Murden got tired of journalism and took another turn in her career path. Today she is the one advising the rich how to treat their employees. ‘Cause here’s the thing. If the employee is satisfied, he is useful, and that brings us to – profit.’
Profit – the main topic of interest that gathered us all at the beautiful Army hall in Tivat.
Cate proposes 4 tactics: 4 A’s – avoid, accept, alter and adapt. Do what you really like, plan ahead, work at intervals, make shorter breaks, turn off notifications and get involved in what you do.
The talk about business development.
Julius Dein championed in blasting through the online community with pure persistence and a gift and showed it. Although, I still don’t understand how he managed to pull out a bowling ball from a notebook. What followed then was Sam Conniff Allende’s show. A great fella’, if you ask me. I kid you not, he was so inspiring that the sparks were flying, all because he said that we have to be the pirates of the modern age. Sure, he did it in a manner that, most likely, will cost him big fat law-suits due to the copyrights.
The honour to close the first day had Anab Jane, which combines design, film and technology to inspire people to look critically on the world. She presented her ideas, works and visions in the largest museums in the world, and her message is that the world consists of a story, not from atoms. She inspired me to start breaking the atoms I gained through classical education, to think about creating a story in the future, and I wondered how I can contribute as an individual to making the world a better place to live.
The first day of Spark’s left me confused, questioned and a little bit of crazy. Was Aldous Huxley really predict the future or would some people still turn technology in favour of humanity?
The second day showed that the cocktails from the night before were awesome. But, Jeremiah Owyang made sure that even the sleepy ones stayed awake since every word that came from his mouth for IT guys felt as holy as the Bible is to the Christians. Two of his keynotes stated that everything will be automatised, and the “war” between the USA and China has already begun.
After Jeremiah, it was time for a “pink view of the world”, by Brian Franz, who proved his point of view with stance and style. #ThinkLikeFan is a philosophy that anyone who works in online advertising should adapt.
After optimism and adrenaline left the stage, critical and ironic tone of Tom Goodwin followed. I will agree with him on the following: “The world is not faster than ever, it’s just messier.”
And what is the most important thing in the world? Well, to think like a kid and to play like one. Lars Silberbauer knows this very well and proved it. He took “Lego” so high up on an online ladder in a short time, that he forgot how to smile. It was Andrew Keen’s turn to close this year’s “Spark”. The man is a living anti-hero. He was so convinced that the digital revolution went so wrong, that the guy next to me wanted to fight him on this. He was unharmed but got a few boos along the way.
From Australia, we had Brooke Saward, a travel blogger, who gave us a new perspective on how she and people like her fight the prejudice. For example, she thinks of Pakistan as of a wonderful country, while a big part of West associates it with radical Islam and nuclear warheads. For the and of the Spark, left Andrew Kin- antihero prototype.
So, that’s the long story short.
At last, what good actually came out of this year’s “Spark”? Well, high blood sugar among other things. That’s due to free soft drinks organisers provided, energy ones especially. Bottom line is: don’t drink from colourful cans. Jokes aside, as much as I thought that I’ll be bored because I don’t like long speeches, I’ll use the cliche as the closing line: “Spark” left a good impression on me. Immense work done by the organisers and great speakers simply had to trigger something. Whether that something was about your own business, the future, present, or the intimate feelings each of us nurture.
I will be away on business next week. You know, I am going to Taiwan.
Podgorica and Taipei are separated by exactly 9, 090.96 km of beeline distance, three worlds of cultural development and thirty-something yeras of political and technological evolution. However, in Vienna, this radical difference was reduced to merely a few gates of passengers squashed in the old part of their famous airport. I believe that the Austrians themselves thought of these cities as two equally exotic destinations.
My waiting for the EVA International flight at about eleven o’clock local time came as an opportunity to, once again, meet with a person who had been shaping my knowledge through my college years and employment in DeFacto agency. This time we flew together. I thought about how it happens sometimes to meet important people on important occasions. And I certainly considered my trip to Taiwan as such an occasion.
On the recommendation of our dear colleagues from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development we got to participate in a study tour in Taiwan within the Private Sector Youth Initiative (PSYI) programme.
PSYI aims to facilitate employability of young people by helping their transition from school to work on one hand, and working on harmonising their gained knowledge with skills they need for work, on the other. After the successful launching of the programme in Croatia in 2017, it’s in the process of expansion all over the region known as Western Balkans.
On that occasion, Bild as a young company which implements a wide range of educational programmes for its employees was invited to exchange experience with 12 representatives from the region. The dialogue was focused on best practices in terms of learning at a workplace, employing the young and helping their transition from school to work – highlighting the successful examples of work and trainings in Taiwanese context.
Although I did not believe that I would see Asia any time soon, in early April, Saška “packed my bags” and sent me to Taiwan.
- Wow you’re going to Asia …Asia :) ??? When are you coming back?
- Well, next week – I answered shortly to my colleagues’ question.
- Once we managed to check in for the flight Vienna – Taipei, the gate was already swarming with international passengers.
- Who will manage to cram all these people in the plane? Could it be there are 300?
- Maybe even 500 – we tried to estimate.
- What do you think, how much oxygen it takes to cater for all these people?
- Don’t talk about that now, we are about to fly for 12 hours.
When we arrived in Taipei, it was morning and cheerful 25 degrees. Substantial concrete surrounded all public spaces, so the images of Taiwanese suburbs evoked some similar ones – Block 5, Block 9, the Teuta Hotel, the late Fjord, Bar’s blocks of flats and Niksic’s neighbourhoods. The good old real socialism embellished with brutalist architecture served as a support for high trees and palms.
Seven hours of our lives vanished in the night, while our homeland remained behind the Sun. My impression that in Taipei all our daily obligations are finished by the time only the first coffee is drank in Podgorica wouldn’t let go till the very return. However, the best and the most important impression about that land are people, food and the feeling that public institutions have a vision about education and employment of young people.
Organisation of the entire trip was spotless. I cannot figure out how people from the Institute for Information Industry managed to incorporate educational, business and leisure activities in our three-day stay which included visiting:
- Ministry of Labour, Agency for Workforce Development
- Ministry of Education
- Institute for Information Industry
- Hungkuang University
- Kai Ping Culinary School
- Yinsh Precision Industrial Company
- Hamastar Company
Gabi, Terry, Jeffrey and Alfred from the Institute, found Olja and me at the hotel bar waiting for the rest of the delegation to join us on our visit to the famous Night Market – which is an embodiment of a real local gastro- entrepreneurial chaos. The organisation team were warm, wonderful people of different age and education. They were rather open individuals, ready to explain to us where we had come and advise us on what to see, taste and understand. The karaoke bus that drove us form place to place during the day, delicious meals and exquisite restaurants were normally the places where we would tire out our hosts with all sorts of questions:
- And tell me, how shall I put this? Okay, let it be something along the lines: do we all look the same to you like you do to us?
- Well, I don’t know. We can tell the difference between a Swede and a Spaniard, for instance – that’s pretty obvious.
- Say, Jeffrey, how come all of you have western names? Can you take whichever you want, like, maybe a Montenegrin name?
- Sure, what would I be called in Montenegrin?
- Hmm, how about Djuro?
- Djuro? That’s how you say it? Okay great. I’ll let my friends know that is my new name. :)
The list of activities was very well devised and interesting to all the participants from the region who were from various public and educational institutions, training centres and NGOs. The aim was to get familiar with Taiwanese attitude towards professional education and extra skills training which fit well into the industrial needs of the country. After day one, the situation was already clear: we had come to the country which has a complicated history, delicate politics, non-existent diplomatic relations, but a rather clear:
Vision of public institutions when it comes to education and employment (they take into account the current situation, their goals, how they test out, further plans)
Developed collaboration between public and private bodies (different ways of organising joint forums: agencies, associations, institutions)
Financing policy in relation to professional education programmes and training centres which suit the needs of national industry.
I would have thought that was the most intuitive educational-labour system development strategy that a country could have if I weren’t informed about the situation in our country, or if I didn’t have an insight into practices applied in the region. Despite the level of development, connection between institutions and industry represents (to a greater or lesser extent) an unfinished process in all the western Balkans countries, no exceptions.
We ourselves have experienced that often students cannot meet our personnel needs in terms of knowledge and skills which makes the company constantly think about investing in educational programmes, which are based on goodwill, personal experience and “doing the best we can” principle. Do we achieve any results? Very much so.
The Great Winter IT Job Training stands as a good example, since it simulates working environment for 21 trainees throughout 6 months. Why do we need this? – that is what I wonder every day. A better question is- How do we do it, how much time, space and money do we invest, what results can we expect and, finally is it all of that even legal?
No. Not in this country. Such type of internship is not accepted by national legislation.
Taiwanese educational and digital centres served as a good opportunity to check what we have been doing in Podgorica for a while now. Understanding their work structure and results thereof, I became confident that, as a company, we are on a good way and that this thing that we are doing has a more far-reaching effect than I could imagine. Their working model relies on a few essential items:
- Private sector recognises commercial interest in its relations with public institutions;
- Public institutions monitor industrial development and work on reducing the difference between education and employment;
- Job trainings are a prerequisite for employment and they encompass;
- Consolidated environment – to provide adequate equipment and working environment;
- Testing and standardisation of knowledge and skills; Issuing certificates in certain skills that are accepted by the government;
- Project-oriented work methodology;
- Budget – the government co-finances and/ or implements the programme;
- Creating a wide network of alumni and maintaining communication for the purpose of exchanging experience.
I remember sitting in the meeting room at the Ministry of Education after a panel discussion and jotting down in panic:
- We do not have visions!
- We lack predictability!
- Young people do not believe they could even have an opportunity to build a career!
- What can we do together?
I was glad to hear that the delegation experiences were somewhat similar. In the end, everyone was wondering the same thing with their eyes set on EBRD as a future forum where countries from the region would gather to discuss educational policies. Our duty is to continue “doing the best we can” and try to maintain contact with each other.
All things considered: time difference, people, visions, souvenirs and all the wonderful people that I met, I feel that I have never been on a better trip. I am especially glad that, upon my departure, I seized the opportunity to tell the Institute director, Stanly that he was working with cool people and that they had done a great job.
In the end, the problem with this country lies in the fact that you can easily listen to Simply Red, then Valentino (Boskovic) and Svemirko immediately afterwards and somehow all of that works and makes sense. I think what finally bummed me out was that I could wear a T-shirt of my local sailing team and still feel great.
To me, that meant that you could rather easily live in a city which can fit in hundreds of different worlds but that it would be great to just pack your bags and once again visit the Night Market for fried quail eggs and tofu cheese. Taipei, till next time, then!
At first glance, it was a Thursday like any other so far, but scratch beneath the surface and you’ll discover that this past Thursday was a unique one.
As it turns out, but you already knew this, the last Thursday of April, is the International Girls in ICT Day.
With the support and organization by the Chamber of Commerce, Bild Studio, for the third year in a row, visits one of the elementary schools in Podgorica. The purpose of these visits is to educate girls on the benefits and joys of working in IT. This year we have visited the elementary school “Sutjeska”.
With an aim to make our presentation a bit more interesting, during the first part of the class, through examples of our female employees we aimed at explaining what kind of jobs and tasks exist, and what are the benefits of having a job in the IT industry. We also talked about the different positions one can cover in an IT company, and we touched upon the formal education that predated the jobs of our girls.
What the girls found the most interesting was the fact that 50% of female employees who work in our company do not have an IT degree. But with an interest in IT and proper motivation they managed to find their spot underneath the Sun.
During the second part of the class, coworkers Amra Jukić and Jovana Đurović showed girls how with intuitive platforms in a short amount of time they can create a website for their class. They couldn’t contain their happiness once we told them that Gmail address is the only that Google platform requires for creating a website.
The ending grade of elementary school is a milestone in the life of every child. Therefore, we wished to make one last gentle push, and provoke their thoughts on the future of their education.
If it is a least one of twenty the girls went home dreaming about becoming a part of the IT world, we consider our mission completed.
P.S. There is something special about living your childhood dream of becoming a professor, even if for a day.
On Wednesday, April 17th, the Chamber of Commerce, in the cooperation with ID Factory, organized a conference on a topic of Presentation skills. The lecturer of the seminar was Ivana Malović, business coach and CEO of the ID Factory.
With eagerness bubbling up, we were impatient to attend the lecture on how to conquer the skill of public speaking. Andrea Tanović, HR assistant, Tijana Ostojić, SEO content writer, Vladimir Zenović, copywriter and our UX interns: Melanija Ostojić, Valentina Kašćelan, Bojana Rajković and Nikola Topalović, booked Wednesday for the improving the so-called “soft” business skills.
Nowadays, presentations skills are an everyday occurrence in the workplace, so it goes without saying that working on these is something that is necessary to accomplish besides everyday tasks.
By developing and practising presentation skills, it is not only that we become more confident, but rather the practice can help us to move past the anxiety of public speaking.
Listening about the necessity of being prepared before an important meeting or presentation, has especially touched a chord with a few of us who suffer from stage fright.
Ivana drew our attention to the importance of having faith in what we do since we send ‘signals’, such as voice trembles or body language, to our clients or co-workers on an unconscious level.
It is not what you say, it is how you say it that is the key to a successful presentation. Ivana asked us a question which we frequently hear, and more often than not, consider irrelevant.
Do you love your job?
The word love was present throughout the lecture, as according to Ivana, this is the reason why we do what we do. When we love our work, we tend to set higher goals, have more faith in what we work on and wish to achieve, and as a result of that, the energy of trust can be felt all around us.
No matter how much we resist public speaking, we fall victims of it more often than we are aware of. Ivana pointed out countless examples where we communicate on an unconscious level, whether it is with our co-workers or clients.
You can only become truly accomplished at something you love, so the conclusion of this lecture is to love your job, set goals and make a head start.
Inspired by the lecture, we have set our goals! :)
Thank you once again for a wonderful lecture, Ivana.
Greetings from our team!