I’ve started a little series of some (by far not all) of the people that have shaped me during my career as a consultant. The more I think back of the things they said, did, and taught me - the more I can see how I’m using their advice just about every week.
Today the turn has come to a colleague that I had at Cap Gemini - the first senior consultant that I worked with and someone that made a huge impact on me and my ways; Lars Littorin
A bit of trivia to start - Lars is probably one of the few people that I’ll mention here that have a blog post dedicated to them already; The Lars Principle. I’ll let that great wisdom stand by itself, in that post. Go read it - Lars has great things to say.
Lars and I met an assignment that we both got sent to with short notice. In fact, I think that Lars had been there for a few weeks before I came; and boy - did that show.
We were working for a municipality property “department”, more like a municipality-owned company. They owned just about all the rental apartments in Sundbyberg (I seem to remember that they had about 10-13 thousand tenants, but I might be wrong).
Anyway; my information going there was that they were going to build a little Indicient reporting system. That would probably have been it - if it wasn’t for Lars. Because he helped them to raise their eyes and during the years we worked there we build a new type of customer relationship system for the property business. The municipality company then sold it on and we built a product out of it. All in all, I spent 6-7 years with the product.
It was hands down, the best gig of my system development career. I still think of it fondly several times a month.
Lars is about 10 years older than me but we immediately found a way to work well together. Lars as an architect/business consultant and me as a system designer/developer. I still fondly remember the first few weeks crammed into a tiny office barely made for one.
The things that I picked up from Lars was how to help and support a client that might not know what was best for them. I saw the first-ever properly planned workshops there - and Lars was behind them all. I saw how we carefully built out the design and features of the system and could hold informed discussions before we committed anything to code.
This was pre-agile days (here comes the Gandalf-feeling again) and we did write quite a lot of documentation, but after the first few deliveries, we were given free reins and could move faster.
Lars always impressed me with his calmness, but also with his transparency and honesty. I still remember him swinging by and say “Let’s go for a walk” and then very kindly correct me in a behavior that was, quite frankly, stupid and set us back a few weeks. He didn’t sugar coat it but he was not mean.
Obviously working for 6-7 years together makes you start to share your private life too and I have several memories of coming to Lars for comfort (one episode of crying it out in the server room stands out in memory). And a few where Lars reached out to me, to bounce personal considerations and thoughts.
Summing up Lars in a word has to be: wise. Wisdom - experienced knowledge. Lars always felt that he knew what to do and what to say, when to go fast and when to reflect. Just what a young gun like me needed at the time.
When our ways part (due to my changing companies) we stayed in contact for some time, but slowly drifted away.
But I was forever a better person and consultant from all the bits of advice for life and work that Lars had given me.
Lars - thank you. That time meant a lot to me.