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: 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 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%

    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...
  • 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...
  • Blog Post: 17 on 17

    On October 17th, I celebrate my 17th anniversary at Microsoft. If someone told me on my first day at work that I would be here for 17 years, I wouldn't have believed them. Besides marriage and family, there's not a lot else that has consistently been in my life for that long. I have new hobbies, live...
  • Blog Post: Over-functioning is Not Job Security

    You would think that under-functioning teams are bad, functioning teams are just right, and over-functioning teams are perfect. But in reality, team members who over-function can cause the team dynamic to change in a way that may not be the desired outcome. At Microsoft, we hire people who are driven...
  • Blog Post: QA or Test - does the name really matter?

    I've been the manager for many different teams. Some call themselves Test and some call themselves QA. Personally, I've found it easier to just use those terms interchangeably. But for many, there are two very distinct schools of thought about what a Test team is and what a QA team is. Maybe at some...
  • Blog Post: No Surprises!

    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...
  • Blog Post: 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...
  • Blog Post: 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...
  • Blog Post: 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...
  • Blog Post: 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...
  • Blog Post: More on Playing With Fire

    As a continuation from my last blog entry, here are some more thoughts I have about code coverage measurements. · Never roll up code coverage data without the interpretation of that data. Without some text about what your numbers mean, people will draw different conclusions which sometimes will require...
  • Blog Post: Play with fire, but don't get burned

    Instrumenting your product's source code to get an indication of how much of the code was covered during testing is a really, really smart measurement to get. If you aren't at least measuring this number, you should be. Visual Studio provides features that continue to make this easier. What does this...
  • Blog Post: Going Dark

    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...
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