Scandinavian Drinking Songs

Marten Mickos at SAP

Marten Mickos at SAP

Marten Mickos, the CEO of MySQL, finished his very interesting talk on “Keys to Simplicity” with a story about how he helps to connect distributed teams from around the world. Every month, he opens up the airways of “Radio Sakila” (named after the company’s mascot, the dolphin) by running an IRC chat while he “broadcasts” on a conference call, which he described as like a radio broadcast.  Everyone in the company attends, and he describes his broadcast as very open – talking about things that other CEOs might not share. As a bonus, at the end of each broadcast, he sings a scandinavian drinking song! I thought to myself:  Wouldn’t we love to hear more drinking songs where I work, at SAP?

Keys to Simplicity
  1. Thorough design combined with the ability to question prevailing norms.
  2. Frugality — or the ability to say no (leads to great solutions)
  3. Openness
  4. Modularity (decomposition of structure)
  5. Release early; release often (decomposition of process) “If you’re not ashamed of the product you’ve released, you’ve waited too long.” You learn the real challenges ahead when you release early.
  6. Connectedness (APIs, reuse)
  7. Peer reviews
  8. Simplicity a core value
Selected Interesting Quotes
  • “Small things together will create big big things — things never before created” – and everyone can participate.
  • “In the business world, the big revolution is the business model.”
  • “When we build something new, we are always misinformed of what the problems are.”
  • “A physical office is an artifact of the industrial revolution.” — Farmers didn’t have work/play time.
  • Innovator’s dilemma: “Customers lie: They say they want features, but they really want simplicity.”
  • A Web 2.0 quote (attributable to?): “The uncreative mind spots the wrong answers. The creative mind spots the wrong questions.”
  • Leonardo Da Vinci: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
  • Antoine de Saint-Exupery: “Perfection is achieved not when there is noting left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
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