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…


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.”…