Miroslav Mađarić – we underestimate the need and the power of collaboration

Miroslav Mađarić – we underestimate the need and the power of collaboration

One of the talk submissions we got this year was the one from Miroslav Mađarić, so far the oldest and most experienced of all the speakers that talked at any of the previous WordCamps in Croatia. We are delighted to have Miroslav with us this year with a topic about WordPress being a perfect tool for idea crowdsourcing. We talked with Miroslav about his early years as a student in 1970 towards what he does today – innovation management.

We can improve human well-being mostly by efficient and effective usage of scarce resources

We are looking forward to your talk on WordCamp Zagreb, but before we talk about it let’s hear more about you. Can you introduce yourself to our audience?

I am probably the oldest participant at the conference, for IT guys and girls something about „dead programming languages“: in the year 1970 I started to attend “Programming” course (basically Fortran) at Faculty of electrical engineering in Zagreb, Croatia. This was one of the first generations that heard about computer programming. After graduating I got the employment in University hospital center Zagreb. In following 15 years I moved from programmer position to the CIO position, leaving in legacy many successful projects, some of them pioneering hospital informatics in Croatia.

Next challenge was joining biggest hospital organization in Europe – Krankeanstaltgeselsschaft in Graz, Austria in 1990, where I was in charge of implementing hospital information system based on SAP IS-H*med. After returning in Croatia in 2002 I led for six years IT in biggest Croatian company at that time – INA oil and gas industry. Finally in 2008 I returned to University hospital center Zagreb with appointment of implementing hospital information system, as biggest ever IT project in any hospital in Croatia.

Last 10 years I am moving more and more in the field of innovation management, teaching that subject in high schools, consulting and leading pertinent projects.

WordPress started its journey in 2003, but your career started way earlier. In a way, you are a witness to this ever-changing world of technology. From your first position in University Hospital Center Zagreb, a lot has changed. Today, we feel that technology is fast-forwarding as never before. What’s your view on these past forty years? Is this advancement a good thing? How can we benefit from technology the most?

As normal in technology field, we have hypes with their ups and downs. Main advance that I see is the adoption rate of new clients. I experienced the mindset change from fierce fight who will have laser printer in his/her office or server under the working desk to kicking out all heavy equipment from the office as a status symbol of an employee.

In innovation courses I hold there are cited legendary boneheaded predictions such as “In the whole world I don’t see the market for more than four, maybe five computers!” (Watson, CEO and founder of IBM) or “I don’t see any reason why someone should have computer at home!” (Ken Olsen, CEO of DEC).

So, all-pervasive clients with sophisticated interconnected services can improve human well-being mostly by efficient and effective usage of scarce resources.

“Publishing for all” opens possibilities for upgrading Internet from information source to information exchange medium

WordPress’s core mission is to “democratise publishing”, and your talk is titled “WordPress as perfect tool for idea crowdsourcing“. What will you speak about?

As my very modest experience with WordPress teaches me, “publishing for all” with this initially blogging tool opens possibilities for upgrading Internet from information source to information exchange medium. For our project of citizen engagement for City of Zagreb we have taken three approaches in consideration:

  • some of-the-shelf crowdsourcing platforms,
  • facebook or similar social media solution or
  • development based on our requirements defined.

First two approaches lacked some very important features from our functional specification, also having not enough flexibility to add these features as add-ons. Development approach had two directions: programming from scratch or using some of performance tools.

City of Zagreb contracted me just for three month pilot, aimed primarily to conduct proof of concept of citizen engagement idea. Thus the logical way here was to ban from-the-scratch development idea and to look for some development tool that acts in similar environment. Idea crowdsourcing is not just blogging, it is sophisticated art of open forum, but strongly moderated and managed one.

It turned out that all functions initially defined in our requirements are covered by native WordPress or can easily be added. Moreover, during three months pilot function in real environment, more than 30 additional requests popped-out. All of them were covered with or around the WordPress platform in matter of hours or 1-2 days, without any glitch in the system availability.

It turned out that all functions initially defined in our requirements are covered by native WordPress or can easily be added.

From your experience in information systems in medicine over being a lecturer and an author, you often speak about innovation. Why is innovation important and what can we do — by ourselves — to sparkle innovation in our own, small ecosystems?

People are not aware that every advance can be seen as an innovation. Blockades and barriers to innovation are very strong and often. Discipline of innovation is built on paradoxes that bring all “innovation stakeholders” in dilemmas, which way to go. In the lecture I will address some examples of reactions to nice innovative ideas from our project, but here I will state one that relates to WordPress itself: at the very first presentation of the beta version, one comment was: “Oh, it isWordPress, why are you using such toy-tool for City of Zagreb?”.

When even beta showed impeccable functionality and stability, I asked the guy simply: “Besides of judging, why not?”. Answer was typical “innovation-killer”: “Here we always have applications developed by programming from scratch!”. In my innovation lectures this statement is generalized as one of the notorious innovation barriers: “Here we not doing things that way!”. This is exactly the quotation of Kodak’s management when deciding upon digital photography. Some 5 years afterwards Kodak bankrupted!

We underestimate the need and the power of collaboration

Any last thoughts?

Most important: to understand the essence of collaboration in IT applications development! People in Croatia, but in IT worldwide underestimate the need and the power of collaboration. Power-tools such as WordPress represent temptation for “one-man-band” activity. Ok, if you have blog or similar simple out-of-the box application, then also the investor (end-user) can grab for the tool and in few minutes or hours make some “garage work”. But if someone tends to develop some complex application, synergy between “investor”, architect, designer and programmer/developer is needed!

Let’s conclude with one example: if you make dog-house, maybe you can buy a kit and do it yourself. Even in that case the pet will not be happy if the roof is leaking! 🙂 But if you build the house for your family, do you have in mind to apply “do-it-yourself” rule? Or even worse: are you speaking with construction workers or with an architect? Exactly that we demonstrated in our pilot www.zg-inovacija.eu: investor engaged an architect who made the system blueprint and commissioned the development work to WordPress experts. Nuts and bolts fit perfectly! 🙂

Did you get your ticket?

If you haven’t already, get your ticket for WordCamp Zagreb today. Tickets are priced at 20€ (around 150 HRK) which will give you entrance to the conference, (first) access to workshops on Friday and to Contributor day on Sunday. You will also get the drinks, lunch, incredible t-shirt and other cool swag from our sponsors.

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