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My 2018 retrospective: A year starting on a low and finishing on a high

2018 was just ten days old when my mother-in-law lost her fight with cancer at only 70 years old. We deeply mourned her passing as she had played a significant role in our family. Unlike the mothers-in-law from hell you often see portrayed in comedies, she always supported me and believed I could do what I set out to do. At her funeral service, the priest reminded us of her motto; “You have to try if you have the abilities.” We would repeat this motto many times over during the next twelve months, during which everything would be a first. The first children’s birthday party without her, her birthday, the first Christmas and New Year’s Eve without her, and many other big and small things.

On a more positive note, I started 2018 working with a new client. e-nettet (they insist on spelling it with a small e) is a Danish company working on digitizing Denmark. They primarily serve the financial sector with cross-sector backend solutions. Still, They have also recently expanded into the consumer space with the NemID app for secure authentication when communicating with the public and financial sector. During my time at e-nettet they underwent significant changes, including introducing new and more agile partnership models with clients and suppliers, growing the number of employees by 30+ %, making changes to the leadership team, renovating their software platforms, and infrastructure, and much more. At times the many concurrent changes competed for attention and bandwidth with the agile transformation. We managed to keep the ball rolling, and by the end of the year, they hired an internal Agile coach to continue the journey.

2018 was also the year my agile leadership courses took flight. After experimenting with and perfecting my messages for several years, I partnered with Finansforbundet (a Danish union for people working in the financial sector) in 2018 to facilitate a one-day agile leadership course for their members in leadership positions. In late 2018, other organizations also approached me to discuss similar partnerships. Alongside the members-only training for Finansforbundet, I also facilitated many open Agile leadership courses at Agile Akademiet and several workshops for leadership teams interested in exploring if and how agile can contribute to their organization’s future. Expanding my services to agile-minded leaders in Denmark will be a main focal point in 2019. Please visit my services page to see my current courses and workshops.

In 2014, we started Ugilic as a network organization, but bureaucracy sneaked in under the cover of being more efficient as the years went by. In late 2018 we decided to go back to our roots and be less hierarchical again. Being a co-founder, I know how hard it is to let go of your baby, but just like in real life, you must give it space to grow up and find its way. It would also be hypocritical not to practice what I preach about sharing leadership, and so far, I Love what it is doing to everyone involved.

Another significant 2018 milestone was completing two years as a part-time Master of Management Development (MMD) student at Copenhagen Business School (CBS). On the 12. December, I defended my master thesis on “How introduction agile into an organization impact leadership and employee behavior.”. My findings from studying leadership during the last two years will hopefully make for many exciting blog posts in the months to come. Stay tuned.

Before celebrating Christmas, my colleague Tore Nielsen and I launched the first Danish podcast on agile. It has been my dream to provide a podcast focusing on discussing agile in a Danish context for a long time. There are many great podcasts on agile in English and a few Danish ones occasionally flirting with Agile, but none are dedicated solely to Agile in Danish. We released the first episode on the 20th of December, and we have already gotten some pretty good feedback indicating we are on the right track. Therefore, we are very excited to produce more episodes in 2019 and plan to record the second episode on the 10th of January 2019. For more information, please visit Den Agile Podcast.

Finally, I used my passion for running as a nice break from work and studying on a personal level. During the summer and early fall, I completed three marathons in three different countries; Stockholm (Sweden), Tromsø (Norway), and Waschau (Austria). I love running, and mentally the training served as a nice break. Unfortunately, I ended 2018 with a minor injury, but running will also play an essential part in 2019. If you have the same passion and want to hook up, you can connect with me on Strava, or maybe I will see you at the Paris, Edinburgh, Chicago, or Dublin marathons?

At the top of this post, the main image is my family and me at my graduation. It is by far the picture of the year for me. Seeing my family’s smiles and thinking back on how proud they were of me makes me incredibly grateful for their continuous support. My wife’s ability to simultaneously deal with the loss of her mother and support me in all my endeavors as a father, consultant, entrepreneur, student, and runner, speaks volumes about her character and strength, and I love her for it.

Happy New Year, and all the best for 2019!

Martin

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