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
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...
27 Apr 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
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
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...
24 Apr 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
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...
5 Oct 2013
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...
17 Jul 2013
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...
13 May 2013
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
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...
17 Jan 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
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...
28 Nov 2012
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
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...
7 Jun 2012
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...
17 May 2012
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...
30 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 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...
10 Nov 2011
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...
16 Oct 2011
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...
5 Oct 2011
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...
5 Apr 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
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