It’s business time

Note: While this column is directed at all engineers, it is most applicable to group managers and above. Other engineers can still apply many of the suggestions or, at least, print out this column and slide it under the group manager’s door.  News flash! Microsoft is a business. Engineers cost money—roughly $250K per person per…

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Doing the minimum

 The concept of a minimum viable product (MVP) has become so mainstream that now even vice presidents are misusing the term. People have been bastardizing the wonderful notion of an MVP for more than a decade, so I suppose vice presidents butchering it was inevitable. Yet the splattering of bloody bites of bogus, bloated blueprints…

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We’re on the same team

A big organization, like Windows, needs to be aligned and work together to produce a great cohesive product. This means teams talking to each other about dependencies, interfaces, and timelines. That communication is crucial to tying together seamless customer experiences, reducing friction, and delivering value smoothly and efficiently. Unfortunately, humans are lazy, selfish, and suck…

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Mysterious mages among us

 Roaming the halls of Microsoft (or any mid- to large-sized business), you’ll find mysterious mages seemingly directing the inner workings of our business. Their powers are elusive to the rest of us. Are they friend or foe? Do they control our fate? I’m speaking of the magical members of the legal, human resources (HR), and…

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Is never good for you?

 There’s a famous New Yorker cartoon with an executive arranging a time to meet with a colleague. He says, “Is never good for you?” You know what? Never is great for me. I’m good with not wasting an hour I could have spent delivering value to customers; I’m good with not subtracting an hour from…

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Off for the holidays

 I’m taking a break during the holidays. The next post will be February 1st. Hope you enjoy this time with family and friends.

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A manager’s manager

 Are you a new group manager? Many folks become group managers in the late fall. If you’ve never managed managers before, it can be a disorienting experience. You’d think it wouldn’t be that much different than being a lead. Wrong. It’s a dramatic departure. When you’re a lead, your group manager is there to cover…

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Self-centered service

 I’m tired of people whining about being unrecognized, unhappy, or unfulfilled. I’m unimpressed. Everything is all about themselves for these bellyaching blowhards, and that’s no coincidence. External recognition, gifts of happiness, and transcendent moments are rare. If you rely on others to provide them for you (because you’re just so deserving), you’ll certainly feel disappointed….

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Never been manager

 It’s September, a period of transition for many people, which means some folks will become managers for the first time. I’ve written extensively about being a good manager, starting with “I can manage” from chapter 9 of my book (a chapter dedicated to humane handling of humans). However, before you set off to become a…

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When the customer is wrong

 The saying goes, “Rule #1: The customer is always right.” But what about the customers who appear to be idiots or ignoramuses? What if the customer is wrong? The extended cliché goes, “Rule #2: If the customer is wrong, see rule #1.” Now that’s really stupid. Customers are often wrong and make nonsensical requests about…

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