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…


Productivity mechanics

 Let’s say you run a great team that already has trust, fails and recovers quickly and safely, and sets clear goals, priorities, and limits. (If you don’t, internalize Is it safe? and I can manage.) How do you take a team like that and make it even more productive? You could search the internet and…


Writing for readers

 Ten years ago, I covered the basics of communication (including email) in “You talking to me?” (chapter 8). With the rise in social media, and the reduced dependency on quick and dirty email, you’d think the other messages would have gotten better by now. Nope, you still stink at writing email. I get over 1,000…


The little things

 Little things mean a lot. We all know this, whether it’s about our products, our relationships, or our lives. It’s the little things that make the difference in what we say, what we accomplish, and who we are. You may build a fantastic product with innovative technology and experiences, but if a small aspect is…


Test failures

 For more than a decade, Microsoft (and the whole software industry) has been evolving how it tests software. The goals have been to increase quality, reduce cost, and be more responsive to the market. The areas of focus have been automation, telemetry, changing the role of testers, and reducing the number of testers. So, how’s…


Moving forward

 My youngest child left for college more than a year ago, leaving my wife and me with an empty nest. We knew someday we’d need to move for health, family, or financial reasons, but our old house is wonderful. It’s comfortable and familiar, full of fond memories and accumulated belongings, and near to friends and…


Is it safe?

 Ten years ago, I wrote “I can manage” (in chapter 9), which captures how to be a good manager in four pages. Some recent articles and situations got me reflecting on one of the points: “There is nothing more critical, more essential than ensuring everyone is given an opportunity to work in a safe environment.”…


Moving homes for the holidays

Eric Aside My holidays are extra busy this year due to a home move. I’ll post again in February. Happy Holidays!


Making lemonade

 A week or so after I started as the new dev manager for an existing group, the person who was clearly my most knowledgeable and respected lead informed me that he was leaving Microsoft to move back home. A few days earlier, I had seen this person resolve a crisis that no one else expected…


Span sanity—ideal feature teams

 As I described in Too much of a good thing?, there are sane ways to appropriately size feature teams for a fixed amount of work and timeframe. You want the fewest number of people in each role that still ensures work flows smoothly and is completed on time. But what about services that continuously deliver…