Ambiguity Can Be Your Friend

Six months ago, I took on a new role at Microsoft.  I haven’t written a blog entry in a while because of all the work I was doing in my new role.  I spent 10 weeks as an individual contributor before building a new team and it was a really fascinating time for me as…

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Fixing What’s Not Broken

Many engineering teams look at change as a bad thing, something that will disrupt their work.  And granted, changing for the wrong reasons, or making changes for the right reasons but too many of them too quickly, can be disruptive and affect productivity.  But you should also be careful about being too stagnant as a…

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The toughest question you can ask, isn’t tough enough

One skill all engineers need to have in order to ship high quality software is the ability to ask hard questions.  No matter if you are a developer, a tester, or a project manager, you need to look at each situation, line of code, architecture/design, or user scenario and determine if you and your project…

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It Takes a Village to Blow Your Nose

I heard this saying recently and although I chuckled, I also understood it more than I wish I did.  What does this statement mean to you?  Does your team behave like this?  Maybe this represents the managers of a team, ones who micro-manage.  Or a team that needs to ask permission to get things done…

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Over-functioning is Not Job Security

You would think that under-functioning teams are bad, functioning teams are just right, and over-functioning teams are perfect.  But in reality, team members who over-function can cause the team dynamic to change in a way that may not be the desired outcome.  At Microsoft, we hire people who are driven for results and it’s a…

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QA or Test – does the name really matter?

I’ve been the manager for many different teams.  Some call themselves Test and some call themselves QA.  Personally, I’ve found it easier to just use those terms interchangeably.  But for many, there are two very distinct schools of thought about what a Test team is and what a QA team is.  Maybe at some point…

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What would you do?

Here’s an interesting question I ask people just to see how many different and creative answers I get (especially in interviews).  Let’s say you are on a project with a fixed budget and a fixed due date.  Assuming a waterfall software development methodology, let’s say that at the point you start getting builds from Dev,…

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No Surprises!

This is what I aim for in my teams – no surprises.  That means my team members do their best to not surprise me and I also aim to not surprise them.  Surprises are great when it comes to birthdays at home with family and friends.  But in corporate life, there’s just no room for…

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There’s No Room For Watermelons

I have noticed a problem lately that needs some focus.  I heard a statement that sums it up nicely.  “Don’t be green on the outside and red on the inside.”  Now if this was a joke (What’s green on the outside and red on the inside?”) I can think of a few answers like a…

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Crawl, Walk, Run

Babies figure out how to do it right – how to make progress and get to an end result.  I think we can learn something from them!  If you stood a baby up and expected them to walk, you’ll realize they are not equipped to do this.  They don’t have the skills in their legs…

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