Stepping up and “Letting Go” or how to approach a new leadership role - Kerri Rusnak, #LASTConf 2014

7. August 2014 von Markus Giesen

Kerri Rusnak LASTConf2014 “Letting Go”
This is a mind doodle about the amazing talk, which @kerrirusnak gave in July 2014 at the LASTConf conference about stepping in to a new (leadership) role, accepting and overcoming initial obstacles and gathering the courage to just do it.

Here’s the transcript of the image mixed with commentary and a few take aways:


Kerri changed from being an agile business analyst / iteration manager to the role of Head of technology at REA.
It was about the attitude of ‘I CAN’, ‘I WILL’, ‘(this is) MORE ABOUT PEOPLE (than tech)’


Take a leap, if you don’t do it now when will you ever? You’re never ready, if you were it wouldn’t be a leap.

When you first start a new role you aren’t qualified to do 100% of your job on day 1.

Your role is built over time, and it is not just you who builds it, you build it with your team and their guidance.

If it was easy, you wouldn’t be there to do it. Accept the struggle and embrace it. There is no “fly-by-wire” with a new role, things will change a lot and often.

Accept that you can’t do it all by yourself and trust your team to work with you. Also make sure to have a #2 that you can work with and share and sense check ideas with.

“Stay cool”, no one knows what your job entails yet, expectations will become clearer over time and you form them, too.
+ no one cares about what you do on day 1, the expectations are most likely that you are new and that is ok.

Guess what, you already have the job, so stop stressing about fitting the bill right away. If you weren’t the right candidate you wouldn’t be there. The role and its responsibilities will reveal itself.

Be confident - Play your own game of what the job means to you.

If you just started, show some bravado, it’s not always about delivery on day 1.
Share your vision and ideas, be bold but respectful and if you have to, then “fake it till you make it”.
Some smoke and mirrors are okay as long as you deliver in the long run.

Just ask questions, lots of them. Observe and respect the teams wisdom and knowledge. They know more about your job on day 1 than you do, so listen to them. Small decisions early on can have a big impact.

If you know who you are, you can be authentic. Use this knowledge to be inspiring.

Don’t ever aim to be perfect or plan for perfect, plan to make things better than they are and do it continuously.

Overall, this was one of the most empowering talks I’ve seen and brought back to my team and colleagues this year and if you are about to step into a new leadership role, I recommend reaching out to Kerri and catch up for a coffee and a chat.

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Kickass Retrospectives (Ryan McKergow #LASTconf 2014 doodle)

29. Juli 2014 von Markus Giesen

Ryan McKergow LASTconf Retrospectives
Ryan McKergow LASTconf Retrospectives

Another doodle from the #LASTconf 2014 in Melbourne, this is the second one in this series, read more about it here.

In the doodle linked above you can see a few selected retrospectives from Ryan McKergows presentation, which I personally thought was a great enabler if you’re looking for new retrospectives. Below is a transcript, I’ll write more about it over time I hope..

Emotional Timeline

Good Events
Problematic Events
significant events

Anonymous Votes

Matches Events to Emotions
Frim Freq/Impact

Write Answers
+ Discuss Q’s
Compare Q’s

Past+ Words

Race Car

Past +


Ryan McKergow


Past Future


Outcome: Action items on how to get …

Keep doing
more of
Start doing
Stop doing
Less of

Dot Vote
To pro


1. Fuels that move us up
2. Ropes that hold us back

The Slideshare presentation is embedded here:

Retrospectives Strike Back! LAST Conferenece - 11_07_14 from Ryan McKergow

And what I believe to be a previous iteration of the same or a similar talk:

How to Jazz up your Retros - Agile BA Meetup - Melbourne - 08/04/14 from Ryan McKergow

Thanks again Ryan, this was kickass!

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Agile coaching - The team as a system (#LASTconf 2014 doodle)

21. Juli 2014 von Markus Giesen

Agile Coaching - Caoilte DunneHere’s a doodle from the #LASTconf 2014 in Melbourne, I plan to share more of these here over time.

The idea is to add and refresh the entries. In the long run the #LASTconf conference information and learnings from 2014 have a lasting impact for me (and maybe for others).

Rather than a BigBang approach and a once off drop, I hope that this will lead to a more iterative and repetitive approach to help refresh the memory and what was learned. Below is a transcription of words, feel free to comment if you find typos or the wording doesn’t seem right.

Doodle notes by Michael Scoote of the presentation on













The presentation on slideshare

LAST Conference 2014 | Agile Coaching: The team as a system by Caoilte Dunne from DiUS

Please note: This is a work in progress, the above transcript might look like chaos and that’s a good thing.

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It’s not a “showcase” it is a “review” - (ad)ventures in scrum

8. Juli 2014 von Markus Giesen

Recently I got involved in a new Agile project. And when I say “recently” I mean last year, and when I say “involved” I mean whoah! what a journey so far!
The point of this little interlude is, that words can me a thousand things, words are important.

Scrumming along
We are running a scrum project and I’d like to think that we adhere to the scrum framework closely.
The scrum framework isn’t hard, it’s a few types of meetings (five) each sprint, a common way of tracking work (agile wall) and the biggest hurdle: changing a culture of silo based roles and waterfall driven enterprise overlords.

Bloody “showcases”
We have “showcases” in our sprints. And when we talk about what we do in them we say we will “present” and we will “demo”. This means to most people, we will make damn sure that everything looks beautiful. We only demo things that work and make everyone look good, pat each other on the back and move on.
What we certainly don’t do is ask the tough questions:
* What’s not working yet?
* What are the known bugs, issues and defects?
* Have we done everything that sits in our definition of done?

Better view with “Reviews”
I would like to advocate and encourage the word “Review meeting”, “Feedback session” instead. Or “Completion check” even. Making it a “showcase” will lead to everyon focusing only on what is working and then move on.
Reviewing a user story and all associated outstanding issues, ideally with a checklist with a few questions like the one’s above will drive quality and make sure you have a meaningful feedback session.

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An item name cannot contain any of the following characters: \/:?”<>|[]- (controlled by the setting InvalidItemNameChars)

17. Oktober 2012 von Markus Giesen


How I started my first (well, third if you’re particular about it) Sitecore CMS project..

I just tried installing Web Forms for Marketers. You know, another form builder. That one thing that every CMS has on offer (or should have) to quickly patch together a basic form.

The plan is to evaluate this module to see if it can be used for a client.
But before I can use it I need to install it first.

I tried this using the usual way of installing a package.
Sitecore » Development Tools » Installation Wizard » Upload package » Install package » Done ( wish!)

Apparently a common issue popping up when installing modules is this error message:

An item name cannot contain any of the following characters: \/:?”<>|[]- (controlled by the setting InvalidItemNameChars)

Well, that’s crap. How do I fix this? After a quick chat with James I changed the InvalidItemNameChars setting in the Web.config to “” and tried it again.


Thanks James and now off to more Sitecore adventures.
Note: If you have run the installer before you probably have to overwrite a few items during the next install run.

P.S. I’m not leaving OpenText land yet. I keep track of other Content Management Solutions out there and after playing with TYPO3, Contao and Sitecore Express a few years back the Sitecore buzz finally has me exploring this CMS as the next one on my list. And since I like to document things from the start so others can learn from my experience, bear with my documentation style, as it may seem fairly noobish, either because I am or because I want others to be able follow..

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Depending on mobile - Vodafone outage in Perth, WA

11. Dezember 2010 von Markus Giesen

So I am sitting in Perth, it’s sunny and 32celsius/90fahrenheit outside and my mobile phone doesn’t work.
Actually, my phone works, just my mobile network carrier vodafone doesn’t get their act together.
Since almost 2 hours now.

And that is just days after users all across Australia where complaining about their network quality.

I just realised I need my phone - too much.
I need it too much! I can’t even tell the weather without it, well I could, but I like to know exactly how much iPhone degree it is…
I can’t organize to catch up with friends anymore, I always rely on being able to call and let them know I’ll be 5, 15 or 45 minutes late.. Now I have to go old school, meet you at the secret location X at the specific Y.
If you snooze you loose.

Ok, I am off to the beach, meet you there, the RedBull Kite Surfing Race is on in 5 minutes.
If you wanna catch up, I’m the guy with no phone.

How do you cope with the outage?

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Run Run Run - Would you like to sponsor me?

12. Oktober 2010 von Markus Giesen

Update 2010-10-15
Thanks to everyone who sponsored me:

  • Victor Tsen
  • Terry Mulkearns
  • Jonathan Raphael Schmid
  • Kath Willox
  • Russell Graham
  • Michael Scott
  • Paul Cooper
  • Damian Keeghan
  • Paul Jones
  • Doerte Botterill
  • Gajendran Somasundaram
  • Travis Brooks
  • Ilario Dichiera

Here’s a picture of the treadmills in Perth:
FOXTEL Lap Treadmills

Original post
Hey there,

I will be running at the 2010 Foxtel Lap fundraiser
in Perth this week’s Friday.

This run is a fundraiser for the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute.

Here is the link and your once in a lifetime chance to sponsor me!

I will be running for 30 minutes, approximately doing 50 laps.
You can either sponsor me per lap or as a fixed donation.

Every gold coin is appreciated! :) Thank you!


P.S. Feel free to share & forward this link with friends,
family and random strangers.

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DiBella Coffee - Excellent australian customer service

25. Januar 2010 von Markus Giesen

I love coffee, I crave it. A day in Melbourne without coffee for the average Melbournian is like a day without synchronizing swatches for Parker Lewis. I don’t talk about this bitter mish-mash that we drink in German offices everyday allover the country. THAT I have to tell you is gross compared what the coffee magicians here are able to craft! And I probably never would have woken up from this lucid mean bean dream if I haven’t made the step to Melbourne - Coffee Capital of Planet Terra..

After trying millions and billions of different coffee types here I eventually found my own brand: DiBella Premium.
And I ordered 1.5kg of fresh roasted beans from the east coast in Brisbane using their website (

The package arrived a few days later and smelled awesome! The devastating reason for that was the broken coffee package inside the box. The coffee was evenly spread throughout the package and my former excitement had to give way to my fear of having to go without ‘the substance’ to keep up my RedDot developer stamina for the next couple of days …

I was certainly close to a nervous breakdown and only Jobs knows how I managed to write this complaint email with my fingers shaking where I explained what had happened to the caffeinated gold delivery. I didn’t expect much of a response. Based on my experience with the australian customer service I thought nothing would happen.

I was even more surprised when I got a phone call 2 hours later and a friendly guy from DiBella told me that he was very sorry that the delivery was broken and that he will get the whole order repacked and shipped to me again.

Brilliant! Splendid! Amazing! There are some coffee Jedis on the light side of Customer Service Wars in Australia.

I got the box delivered 4 days later via express shipment and my story has an happy end. Thanks to the folks @ Dibella, I highly recommend your products AND your service!

dibella-coffee-premium.jpgDiBella Coffee ‘Premium’ - The ultimate coffee experience
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Bad australian customer service - some examples

23. Januar 2010 von Markus Giesen

Customer Service in australia? - Ha! I thought during the last 12 months that the Germans are super special über-spoiled when it comes to customer service. Australia is a customer service desert - I had to learn it the hard way.

On the list of uncool, mean, evil and bad to worst customer service ever:

Silver Top Taxis in Melbourne

Basically every second cab driver tries to screw you over. When you jump on the cab which you just hailed they push the button to quickly add the $2.00 which you have to pay when you would have called a cab via phone. I tried to lodge a official complaint but none of their email addresses on their website is working. The cab number was 0076 with the drivers license number 542647, expiry date 09/04/2012. Karma will get you my friend… :)

“Let’s Cook” kitchenware store, Little Bourke St Melbourne

They have the most unfriendly staff you can imagine. Solving customer service inquiries by telling you that basically everything is your fault and there is no return policy on their goods. Don’t buy anything there.

OzSail - Whitsunday Islands

They sent you on a dive trip with the worst gear ever, bad regulators and stinger suits (1mm thick) instead of proper dive suits (3-7mm) to protect you from hypothermia. And if you let them know that the regulator doesn’t seem to work properly they pat your back with a nice “Don’t worry mate”. I had to worry at 12meter depth because the gear failed and I was freezing so bad that I almost fainted - emergency ascend included. Back on the boat there wasn’t even an apology. Please don’t ever even consider planning a trip with those guys, it might be your last.

Three Mobile stores

You ask the staff for a wireless 3G device top up and they sell you a whole package including a new device convincing you that the device is bound to the top up. This happened to a friend of mine and she paid $100.00 more. When trying to return the device she was told that it was her fault for not reading the contract details. Dear Three, if every customer would spend the 2 hours in your store for reading your contracts every time they sign one you wouldn’t make any money.

Threadless T-Shirts

Ok, they are not australian but I assume they got the attitude from australia.. They sent me a damaged T-Shirt, I wrote them what happened and even send images, what a hassle.. They promised to send me a new T-Shirt - Which never ever arrived. That is worse than bad customer service. This is making sure I will never ever again order anything from your shop. You are banned. Apparently the first delivery came after one week and the second was stuck for about 2 months with customs. Bad customs, bad!

Genesis Fitness, Melbourne

I signed up for a membership with this gym. I ticked the box to not receive any offers for goods or services. Still, they kept sending me ‘invites’ to come over and bring some new members… I just had a chat with the nice lady from Genesis Camberwell and she told me, that this is not advertisement this is just to keep in touch. I don’t want to be in touch when I constantly get asked to bring new members. She said they need the number for emergencies. Well then use it for emergencies, don’t use it to keep me updated about ‘what happens at the Genesis Club’ and don’t tell me to ‘bring in new members’ that is NOT an emergency THIS is advertisement. Next complaint here: I signed up for a club with working machines and enough space to not suffer claustrophobia, the gym on Londsdale Street has been renovated, they have closed a whole room and now people are crammed into a tiny little room where you can’t even walk properly between the treadmills or bikes. I said that this is not what I signed up for and that I want to cancel my membership immediately. Unfortunately I can not leave because it would be ‘unfair’ to treat me any different than any other client. Good to know that we are all stuck in this fair system of yours Genesis. And thanks for disregarding my privacy and for charging me another 30 days for something that I didn’t sign up for until I can leave your fine club. So you can decrease your gym space and basically and change your part of the contract but I have to live with it? And then you tell me that there is nothing YOU can do? Right. Do not join this gym!

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The most social agency I’ve worked for in Germany

22. Januar 2010 von Markus Giesen

Social media - it’s the hype, new market, unknown grey field and hottest hottie since slicedBread0.9 or Web 2.0. This new bullshit bingo buzzword just outgrew all the newest shiny marketing fuzz during the last years just when the marketing people began to realize that Web2.0 is a vague and gormless attempt to sell you another useful asset for to complete your pretentious “interwebs” shopping basket.

Banner Kingdom of Württemberg: Furchtlos und Treu
An old German banner I got for Christmas with some of my personal social media buzzwords for this year: “Fearless and Loyal” :)

What is social media? It is collaboration. Working, communicating, interacting and handling the requirement to bring people closer together and give them shortcuts. Every serious social media guru was probably a collaboration manager in the past. And no, hence social media is not new, it’s Collaboration2.0 with a new name and some better coded website applications around it.

Where does social media start? It starts with you. You have to find a way to get people to take the shortcuts you want them wanting to take (and they need to want to take them). You have to lead and create a intriguing new social media autobahn to ensure they can speed with 4000miles/hr 200tetabits/sec to reach their goal. OR at least you have to find the right agency which knows what social means.

How do you find a social media agency?

  • You have to monitor your targeted agencies behaviour.
  • Do they have a blog?
  • Do they have a twitter account?
  • Do their employees have twitter accounts and how do they use it?
  • Is there a facebook fanpage?
  • How do they integrate all this into their own social strategy e.g. website?

I just received a box around Christmas from one of the first agencies I was entitled to work for a couple of years ago. Stoll & Fischbach started with Heinz Stoll and Gerhard Fischbach (and I believe Roman Pohl) years ago in a Garage (this proves, that this is not always a bad sign..). First they were a communication & design agency, later Heinz Stoll decided to challenge himself (and his awesome team) by producing web based solutions such as RedDot CMS sites.

Why are these guys the best social agency that I’ve worked with so far?
Beside making amazing projects and craving technical know how to probably be able to build a Space Shuttle (I picture Commander Ralf, General Bertram and Navigator Martin in the cockpit and Simon hitting the big bulky launch RedDot.. ) they are just a bunch of good guys who know to communicate with each other and with their clients.

They understood at early stages how important it is to build a knowledge base based on modern collaboration technology like a wiki. They got the idea of Twitter and Facebook integration and were quite fast able to realize client projects with ‘maximum German efficiency’ (I totally stole that sentence from The Simpsons).
But most of all, they just ARE social and fun to work with and that is what social media should be - easy to work with and making things better :)

What was in the Christmas box? The StoFi-Team sent me this:

Furchtlos und Treu Flagge - Small
“Furchtlos und Treu”
EN: “Fearless and Loyal”
Furchtlos und Treu Flagge Wand - Small
“Furchtlos und Treu”
Goes well with the guitar!
A banner of the old German kingdom “Württemberg“. Thanks a lot guys, you are the most amazing crazy Germans I’ve ever worked with and I totally would enjoy working with you again!

Social means thinking beyond KPIs like Return On Invest and more about relations to flatten out daily workflow dents. Some things even a guru can’t teach you, things some people just have and others don’t.

Thanks to all you guys at SFeBusiness, keep up the great work and thanks for reminding me why working with you was so much fun!

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