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…

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Customer obsession

You love your customers. You care about them. You design for them. But, are you truly obsessed, or do you let technology and personal preferences creep into your decisions and communications? I sometimes recognize when my personal agenda is creeping in—it requires real vigilance to keep personal bias in check. To help me stay customer-focused,…

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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…

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We’re on the same team

A big organization, like Windows, needs to be aligned and work together to produce a great cohesive product. This means teams talking to each other about dependencies, interfaces, and timelines. That communication is crucial to tying together seamless customer experiences, reducing friction, and delivering value smoothly and efficiently. Unfortunately, humans are lazy, selfish, and suck…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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Diamond dependencies

 How can you tell if you’re a smart engineer? What separates people who go through the motions from those who really get it? Second-order effects. Anyone taking an introductory software class can learn what changing a line of code does to a function, but engineers who really understand programming will see the cascading impact of…

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Get real

 Could you be replaced? Could your product get hacked? Could an essential service fail? Could a key co-worker leave? Could a critical dependency arrive too late? People often measure themselves, their peers, and their heroes by how they respond to crises. That’s nice, but it’s dumb. Some people freeze, run, or hide during crises—they’re pathetic…

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