A true story for those who don’t believe or know agility, my story of how I paid a high price for not being agile.
I learned a great lesson from my own pocket about agility.
My life is full of failed attempts, which has given me an advantage over many others, because I have learned enormously from various personal and professional situations. I often say that you can’t talk about my calluses if you haven’t been wearing my shoes, so I’d like to try to briefly summarize years of learning from just one project, what not to do and why you should be agile, but not the fake agile that some people sell.
I did not become an agile Coach right after a two-day training and a multiple selection test, it took me years of experience, years in so many different industries and roles, been an employee and an entrepreneur.
My biggest challenge now is to try to be brief in this story 🙂
At the end of the 90s I was looking for a new project in which to invest and start up to dedicate myself to it, at that time, there was a lot of interest in the stock market, so I dedicated myself to learning everything I could about it and I began to be an investor who spent 12 hours a day doing intraday operations for himself, I learned quickly, it wasn’t that bad, but above all, I learned about how hard was to find information about the markets, from the point of view of small investors.
There was no stack overflow, Google was just beginning, the Internet was not what it is today, to move forward, learn more and have better information to make better decisions related to the stock market was quite complicated for “Joe Average”.
People like to talk about their successes, On the other hand, I am not worried about talking about my mistakes, I think they bring more wisdom
I usually have ideas that step on each other to get out of my head, so there was one that stepped over others, so it occurred to me to create a portal where small investors, like me, could find what they needed to make better trading decisions. 🙃
I founded Mind Crusher Technologies, a small firm to create online content, with the idea to create a stock market portal. We managed to create the first Stock Market Website at the Balearic Islands. Stock Market Data, Contents, News, Market Analysis, Authorized contents providers by EFE and The Madrid Stock Exchange between 1998 and 2001. Thanks to my own capital and the strategic support of some of the partners I grouped together, we started it up. In the 90s, to get partners you exchanged shares of the company for the support you received, be it infrastructure, services, or products from others.
Does the year 2001 and its relationship with agility sound familiar to you? In 2021 the Agile Manifesto was released.
I was really happy for all the partners that trusted me on this project, one of my partners was a very big company that was a stock data provider. After the successful experience of Patagon, this partner did not want to make the mistake of not betting on something like this, they did not want to miss the opportunity if it was a success. Patagon was one of the first fintech of that time, and it was acquired in 2000 by Banco Santader for $540 million, quite a lot of money at that time.
I am not going to tell you how hard and complicated it was to get my own capital up and running for the project, nor all the partners (companies) that I had to look for to make it a reality, I would going like to focus on how I was the worst stakeholder that could be, yes, the one who wanted the entire project covered in gold, silver and diamonds before having anything in production.
Let me tell you a few of the many things I did wrong, as a user I thought I knew everything, nowadays stakeholders think they know what users want or need, better than anyone else, well, that’s wrong.
I pushed development so that all features were delivered, I wanted even the smallest functionality to be available, I was convinced that we could not go out to production without having everything, because I was a user and I thought that I could not do anything without everything that was thought it was necessary.
What I didn’t know was if what I thought was even necessary, and, even if it was, the world kept turning and changing while I was busy in my own world, developing something that I thought would solve problems for users. Nowadays, we know that there are pandemics and wars that can happen and that we never thought that we would have to deal with the consequences.
In my case, at the end of the 90s I did not have to face situations like the pandemic or even a war, but, I dealt with something unexpected and that nobody thought would happen, the crash of the Nasdaq index, generating the Dot-com crash known as Dot-com bubble between 1995 and 2000, and I’m not even planning to get deep into the “Y2K” (Year 2000 problem), that’s another thing, I am only focusing on the bursting of the Dot-com bubble.
Before the Manifesto there were people who already somehow thought that there were different ways of developing software, even from our own developers told me, Francisco (Xisco), why don’t we come up with something that allows us to know if this could be something big or not, before continuing?, but, in my role as the “worst” stakeholder/CEO I wanted to go with everything to production, and on top of that I only added more functionalities, because, that’s what people want, I said from my omnipotent throne, my know-it-all position, I know more about what users want than users themselves. Silly me.
Jokes apart, I kept pushing for the “whole enchilada”, disregarding that the world was changing in the meantime.
Time has come and we went live, we had a freaking great portal, we had almost everything I want it, honestly it was a great piece, we end up having a great stock market portal. At the time we went live the company was supported by my own funds and the stock I shared with other investors/partners, “build it and they will come” I thought.🤦
Money was something that was beginning to be scarce, while the Dot-com bubble was bursting, from my side I began to look for investors, business angels to be able to continue, but the distrust in the business model of the Dot-com, everything for free and selling advertising made the biggest companies reel, investors and hedge funds kept their checkbooks in the drawer, the Nasdaq went down, many closed. I tried to reach an agreement with a bank or financial institution so that they would buy or invest in it, but nobody wanted to get involved in anything that smelled like Dot-com, so my portal closed, I lost all the money I invested in it.
Not having direct contact with users, for not having tried to prototype and seek feedback with the minimum possible effort and cost, I arrived late 🥺, although the product was very good, environment changed, we weren’t able to adapt along the way, attempt fail.
I was lucky that I was able to learn a lot and I was able to pivot my company to something else, real estate investment, since it was where people were taking refuge after the Dot.com crisis, but that is another story for another post.
My lesson learnt helped me a lot in future projects, since then, my journey thru agility started, and I carry it with me wherever I go and no matter what role I’m in, being able to adapt to changes quickly with skills, and what the manifesto suggests as values and principles is not a flavor of the month or magic formulas that fits and solve it all, nor happy rainbow unicorns made with tons of post its, it is freaking real.
My project full page in the newspaper if you are more curious about:
👉 https://blogfranciscocobos.wordpress.com/galeria (Espanish)
Thanks for reading!
🐢 “Poc a Poc” (Little by Little)