Lost in space: The value of teamwork

What is the higher-order bit in software development: individual productivity or feature team productivity? Five years ago, in The flow fallacy, I argued that responsive delivery of customer value was the goal, and that goal was best achieved by feature teams, not individuals. Thus, feature team productivity outweighs individual productivity. While many readers agreed that…


Management malady

Eric Aside Before anyone gets the wrong idea, this is not directed toward anyone in my organization. The column idea came from a reader—many thanks to her. When you have an illness, the road to recovery starts with identifying the problem. One of the most serious and insidious illnesses an organization can have is poor…


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…


The evils of inventory

 When I worked for Boeing in the early 1990s, the company was utterly dominant in the commercial airplane industry—record profits, orders, and market share. However, Airbus was a growing concern, and Boeing leadership was keenly aware of how U.S. companies used to dominate the auto industry, but now that dominance was shifting overseas. At the…


More money, more problems

 In Staying small, I exposed how big teams are inherently slow and thus less productive, responsive, and competitive. However, I only scratched the enormous surface of large teams and large budgets. You’d think that having lots of money and lots of people would always be an advantage. You’d think wrong. Throwing money and people at…


Staying small

 The One Microsoft strategy tells us we are one company. We have one operating system, one app API, one marketplace, one cross-platform set of apps, one search, one cloud solution, and one toolset. The days of duplication and reinvention are over. Good riddance. What’s a huge team left to do? Get small and stay small….


You want a revolution

 Microsoft is undertaking its biggest set of internal changes in years. The organization from the top down is being restructured and realigned. Our performance management system is being revamped. We’re even getting a new CEO to drive the new direction of One Microsoft. Longtime readers know that I’m thrilled that we’re headed toward One Microsoft,…


Collaboration cache—colocation

 Software geeks know that registers fetch data roughly 10 times faster than the L2 cache, 100 times faster than main memory, and more than a million times faster than hard drives. Smart software engineers work hard to keep all the data for their inner loops in registers or at worst the L2 cache. They keep…


Too much of a good thing? Enter Kanban

 Last month, I wrote about the value of good program managers (PMs). Some people liked the column (mostly PMs). Some people hated it (folks with bad PMs). However, the most common response was that Microsoft has too many PMs. Can you have too much of a good thing? Heck yeah! Why is having too many…



 It breaks my heart and sickens my stomach to witness the tremendous productivity and quality gains of Lean Software Development practices at Microsoft:  feature crews in Office, scrum teams in Xbox, and improvement teams in SQLServer, to name a few. These Lean approaches yield less-incomplete work, higher-quality builds throughout the product cycle, earlier feedback on…