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…


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…


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.


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…


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….


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…


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…