Steve Jobs on the Value of Saying No

I ran across a great segment of Steve Jobs talking at the WWDC in 1997 just after he returned to Apple.  Similar to my post about pruning the decision tree, he speaks about the power of saying no to the bad ideas.  “Focusing is about saying no,” he says.  His analysis of what was wrong…


Listening to the team

There is an old saying in software that goes something like this, “Scope, Timeframe, and Budget: Pick two.”  Being a tester, I would rephrase this a little as, “Features, Timeframe, Budget, and Quality; Pick three”.  It’s usually possible to hit all three of the first choice as long as you are willing to sacrifice quality. …

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Forging a Team Identity

For a group of coworkers to have a chance of becoming a team, they must share a common sense of purpose or identity.  Dave Logan in Tribal Leadership calls this a “Noble Cause.”  On small teams this often comes naturally.  Everyone is working on the same project or related set of features.  As teams become…

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Own the Feedback

Some time ago I was at a management training course. The group was divided into those who were managers of managers known in this course as M2s and those who were what I have been calling leads–that is managers of individual contributors–which they called M1s. I was part of the M2 group. The M1s were…

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How to Interact with Your Team as a Manager

As one moves from being a lead (manager whose reports are individual contributors) to a manager (manager whose reports are leads), there is an important decision to be made about how to interact with your skip-level reports. That is, how should a manager handle his interactions with the individual contributors reporting to his leads. There…

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Five Books To Read If You Want My Job

This came out of a conversation I had today with a few other test leads.  the question was, “What are the top 5 books you should read if you want my job?”  My job in this case being that of a test development lead.  At Microsoft that means I lead a team (or teams) of…

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Don’t Worship at the Altar of Accuracy

Earlier today I found myself faced with a common management situation.  I had been sent an e-mail which showed that a piece of data we were using was inaccurate.  The specific issues was what percentage of a certain test run was automated.  We had said we were at 100% and it turned out there were…

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Simple Management Tip: Tracking 1:1 Conversations

Here’s a quick tip I’ve found very handy.  When doing 1:1’s with your team (you are doing these regularly, right?), take notes to keep track of the conversations from week to week.  I currently use a 5-tab notebook with one tab for each direct report.  Each person has their own section.  Each week when we…

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Becoming a Manager: Learning to Rely on Data

Having been a manager* for a while now, I’ve learned more about what it means and what changes it requires in thinking.  This installment of the “Becoming a Manager” series covers the increasing reliance on abstract data that is required as you move up the ranks.  Everyone who is an IC knows that upper management…

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Review: Peopleware

The book, Peopleware by Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister, comes highly recommended by Joel Spolsky and Jeff Atwood over at the Stack Overflow Podcast.  It is probably most famous for its repudiation of the idea that cubicles make a better work environment for programmers than offices.  There is a lot more to this book than…

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