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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  • Blog Post: 7 Mistakes New Managers Should Avoid

    When you move into a people manager role, it's usually because you are doing a great job as an individual contributor. Being a manager is quite different than being an individual contributor. Instead of only being concerned with getting your own work done, you are now responsible for a whole team of...
  • Blog Post: Stop Hoping for Quality and Just Test It!

    As I continue to apply more engineering rigor to the release process in my team, I hear statements referring to engineers being hopeful and hoping things will go well. Hoping is not the correct way to ship software. I also hear a lot of statements like “we are confident this will work”. Confidence...
  • Blog Post: 6 Ways for Engineers to Connect with Their Customers

    Satya Nadella's strategy for Microsoft is "Mobile First Cloud First". That's helped keep teams inside the company stay focused on the right objectives, but it only describes the "what" and not the "how". For the how, we should think "Quality First Customer First". Quality can mean a lot of things and...
  • Blog Post: Quality First

    Whether you are a developer, a tester, or in a combined Software Engineering role, understanding the fundamental thinking behind testing your own code is of significant importance to producing solid, quality services for our customers. Due to this, I'd like to spend some time directing you to some of...
  • Blog Post: 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...
  • Blog Post: Clean Up Your Campsite!

    I always feel like a responsible adult and global citizen when I go camping or hiking and follow the rule on "leaving no trace". So why do we not do the same thing as engineers? As a camper, I spend time setting up my tent and sleeping bags, organize my picnic table and fire pit area, and enjoy using...
  • Blog Post: 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...
  • Blog Post: 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...
  • Blog Post: 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...
  • Blog Post: How Many Days Away Are You?

    Here is how a career as people manager typically plays out. You are an engineer and really good at what you do. You are an expert in a technology or a specific domain. Then you become the boss. Your main responsibility isn't to be the expert anymore. It's to manage and grow experts on your team. So as...
  • Blog Post: 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...
  • Blog Post: Don't Fall Asleep with Geckos

    A few years ago, I had the great opportunity to take a 2 month sabbatical fully-paid by Microsoft. For this time off, I absolutely did not want to just sit around at home. I arranged one month for my family to "live" in Hawaii. It was awesome and something the whole family will always remember. Although...
  • Blog Post: Don't Show Me Your Ugly Duck Feet!

    Picture this, it's a nice warm summer day and you are relaxing next to a lake. There is no breeze in the air so the surface of the water is very still and you see a duck. It floats by, calm and quiet, with just a small V-shaped ripple in the water behind it. You admire its graceful nature. Doesn't it...
  • Blog Post: It Doesn't Take Muscles to Use Your Strengths

    But it does take a manager that understands how to leverage strengths. Many managers say they do this, but I'd question if they really think this way, if "leveraging peoples' strengths" is really part of their DNA. The reason I question this is because many companies have defined roles for people to...
  • Blog Post: Experienced to the Level of Obsolete

    Some days I just amaze myself. I can be tired, even exhausted, and not very focused on work. Still I can go into a work meeting, make a few comments and add a ton of value. And I can do this again and again and again until I really don't need to pay much attention because I am adding value just by the...
  • Blog Post: 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...
  • Blog Post: Good News!

    Today I was recognized on another website that focuses specifically on Engineering Management. I'm happy to be listed as one of the top 25 Engineering Management blogs of 2012. Check it out here: www.engineering-management.net/top-engineering-management-blogs-2012 . I really enjoy writing my blog entries...
  • Blog Post: 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...
  • Blog Post: The toughest question you can ask, isn't tough enough

    One skill all engineers need to have in order to ship high quality software is the ability to ask hard questions. No matter if you are a developer, a tester, or a project manager, you need to look at each situation, line of code, architecture/design, or user scenario and determine if you and your project...
  • Blog Post: 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...
  • Blog Post: I Scream, You Scream, We're All Testing!

    Scream testing is an interesting concept, not so much applied to finding defects, but instead to clean up your processes. In the engineering world, we have a habit of creating a lot of things, yet have a very difficult time retiring things, whether those things are projects, hardware, automated test...
  • Blog Post: It Takes a Village to Blow Your Nose

    I heard this saying recently and although I chuckled, I also understood it more than I wish I did. What does this statement mean to you? Does your team behave like this? Maybe this represents the managers of a team, ones who micro-manage. Or a team that needs to ask permission to get things done due...
  • Blog Post: Vision Without Action is a Daydream, Action Without Vision is a Nightmare

    Does your team have a vision? If it doesn’t, it should. I heard this saying once that really sums it up, “vision without action is a daydream, action without vision is a nightmare”. In my experience, most teams are taking action yet the team vision is non-existent. Now I wouldn’t...
  • Blog Post: 97%

    Metrics are very important to the success of an engineering team. They help with data-driven decisions. Today let's focus on QA metrics, although having metrics for all the important indicators we use to ship products is essential to any engineering team. For QA metrics, some of the most important ones...
  • Blog Post: What are Testers Thankful For?

    When I think about all the issues my QA team has to deal with to ship projects, I wonder as we get closer to Thanksgiving what they are thankful for. What makes their jobs easier or fun? Two things come to mind. Testers are thankful when their developers produce quality builds. Getting a build that...
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