The Colorful and Gray World of Engineering Management
Embark with me on my journey through the colorful situations & challenges and the (gray) ambiguity of management in the software industry.
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The Colorful and Gray World of Engineering Management
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It's Not Over, Till It's Over
The word "over" can mean a lot of positive things. "Over the rainbow" is where you find your pot of gold. "Turn over a new leaf" means you're changing your ways or stopping a bad habit. And "head over heels" describes falling in love. Yet, the word "under" usually means something negative. "Getting under...
28 May 2015
Sprint to the Finish!
A sprint team that starts together, ends together. That seems like a fairly simple principle to follow. Yet for teams that are transitioning from a waterfall methodology to an agile one, following this in a practical sense is much more difficult. These teams are used to a milestone based approach to...
23 Mar 2015
DevOps, The Art of Walking in Someone Else's Shoes
All engineering teams are set up differently. In the Microsoft IT department, we have a set of Software Engineers that work on designing, implementing, and testing the software solutions needed to run the company. We help deploy our builds, but most of the work of getting our new bits out to production...
26 Feb 2015
Don't Call My Baby Ugly
A big change is happening in the engineering teams across Microsoft IT. We are combining developers and testers into one role we are calling Software Engineer. This new role owns coding and testing equally, and specifically feature design and coding, unit and functional testing, and system level testing...
29 Jan 2015
What's Your New Currency?
There's a change spreading across the software engineering landscape. What you thought you knew about testing and shipping software is changing and it's time we all get on board. Some of us older engineers have learned how to ship software in a traditional way similar to the Waterfall methodology . But...
19 Sep 2014
Imperfection is the Way to Agility!
The term "perfectionist" is one that most people are familiar with. Either because we are one or we know someone who is one. Many times, being a perfectionist adds a ton of value to your work, your team, etc. As one, you are driven to do the right things to a level of detail most won't go to. You may...
2 Mar 2014
Superheroes Don't Work at Corporations
This message is for the workaholics out there, and not for those of you who barely want to get your work done, who aren’t interested in doing more than just what is asked at work, or who have a balanced lifestyle so that you are seeing many years of success within your career. This blog won’t...
21 Mar 2013
Fixing What's Not Broken
Many engineering teams look at change as a bad thing, something that will disrupt their work. And granted, changing for the wrong reasons, or making changes for the right reasons but too many of them too quickly, can be disruptive and affect productivity. But you should also be careful about being too...
14 Jan 2013
How Important is the "How"?
Do you know the best way to succeed in your career? To stand out in the crowd? To prove your capabilities? Well sure, that’s by showing results, a ton of results! You work long hours and stay focused on getting your deliverables done. Right? Well, have you considered the possibility that showing...
23 Sep 2012
A Routine Life is Boring, But Routine Work is Awesome!
What is your routine? We all have one. Mostly these exist because there are actions we do every day and we can take the same steps to accomplish them. For example, driving to work or brushing your teeth. You can also find routine actions in the work your team does and identifying those can gain your...
20 Apr 2012
Anyone who knows me knows that metrics are very important to me. I mostly focus on QA metrics, but I like seeing metrics for most of the things we do to ship products. For QA metrics, some of the most important ones are around # of test cases, % automated, % run, % passing, and % code coverage. But recently...
3 Apr 2012
What would you do?
Here's an interesting question I ask people just to see how many different and creative answers I get (especially in interviews). Let's say you are on a project with a fixed budget and a fixed due date. Assuming a waterfall software development methodology, let's say that at the point you start getting...
9 Feb 2011
This is what I aim for in my teams - no surprises. That means my team members do their best to not surprise me and I also aim to not surprise them. Surprises are great when it comes to birthdays at home with family and friends. But in corporate life, there's just no room for surprises. Even something...
19 Jan 2011
There's No Room For Watermelons
I have noticed a problem lately that needs some focus. I heard a statement that sums it up nicely. "Don't be green on the outside and red on the inside." Now if this was a joke (What's green on the outside and red on the inside?") I can think of a few answers like a frog, an alien (of course, maybe they...
6 Dec 2010
Crawl, Walk, Run
Babies figure out how to do it right – how to make progress and get to an end result. I think we can learn something from them! If you stood a baby up and expected them to walk, you’ll realize they are not equipped to do this. They don’t have the skills in their legs to move that way...
30 Oct 2010
Tribal Knowledge and Engineering Don't Mix
In many engineering teams, having tribal knowledge is normal and accepted. This is when information about a product, process, or technology owned by the team is described verbally from person to person, release after release, without writing it down. Or if it is written down, only a select group of people...
3 Jul 2010
No Crystal Ball Required
One of the most challenge skills to master is long-term planning. This skill is needed for many different tasks at work, especially around project planning, budget planning, and (at a personal level) your career planning. Long-term planning is needed in order to get the most out of these exercises. In...
20 Apr 2010
Since the nights are getting longer and it's Halloween, let's talk about going dark. This isn't about wearing a black costume for trick-or-treating! Going dark is a term used to describe the situation where someone hasn't communicated in a while. This could be on any topic but mostly for individuals...
31 Oct 2009
Do Whatever It Takes!
I had a test lead years ago that did a great job at setting expectations for his people. But for himself, his main goal was always stated as "do whatever it takes to ship the product". This was really difficult to measure him against. But the concept is an interesting one. Many teams fall somewhere in...
10 Oct 2009
At Microsoft, we set commitments regularly for all employees. These are basically goals and focus areas that are written down to help employees remember what to work on and to clarify how their work is being measured. Here are some guidelines on verbosity that help when I review others' commitments:...
28 Sep 2009
Action-oriented vs. Results-driven
In many project teams, I see people mistaking actions for results. One of the best inputs a manager can give to a team is to evaluate when the team is too action-oriented and guide them to be more results-focused. If a project team is always really busy and working long hours but then they keep missing...
13 Sep 2009
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