Are we functional (part deux)?

 It’s been over seven years since Windows 7 launched. Inside Microsoft, one of the more controversial elements of that launch was the change Steven Sinofsky made to the Windows organization at the start of that product’s planning and development. Coming over from Office, Steve switched Windows’ structure from having many product unit managers (PUMs running…

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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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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…

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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…

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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…

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Escalation acceleration

 When I recently wrote about the frightening yet fantastic world of DevOps, I discussed how escalations reach the dev team, but I skipped over when the dev team does the escalating. As you move from shipping annually to shipping weekly and daily, you depend on engineering systems and services to work 24×7. However, engineering systems…

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The value of navigation

 Times change, and we must adapt to those changes. There was a time when software products were packaged, installing an upgrade was a big deal, and the market could only handle a new version every few years. Now products ship daily online. There was a time when intellectual property was king, you jealously protected your…

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On budget

 When you become a dev manager, new responsibilities may arise that you are utterly unprepared to handle. I’m talking about recruiting, firing and layoffs, vendor management, and budgeting. You get very limited exposure to these duties prior to becoming a manager, and as a techie you took roughly zero classes about them in school. Most…

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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,…

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