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: 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: 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: 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: 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...
  • Blog Post: If You Want It, Then You Aren't Ready For It

    Are you just dying to get promoted? How about seeing your individual engineering role turn into a lead role? Many people focus on that next step in their career, and with good reason. We all look for ways to grow and challenge ourselves. But many times, people hit a point in their careers where that...
  • 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: 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: Don't Pay the High Tax!

    There are typically two types of individuals at work, ones that are independent and ones that are not. Sound fairly simple? Sure, but what exactly are they dependent on? Their managers. There are many good, valid reasons that cause someone to be more dependent at work such as being in a new role, learning...
  • 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: The Tale of Two Teams

    Once upon a time, a long time ago, in a land far, far away, there were two teams, umm, I mean villages. They were run by one manager, I mean one powerful king. He didn't have many rules for his villagers, just one, "do whatever it takes to ship". For his villagers, this gave them a lot of freedoms and...
  • Blog Post: Sometimes Things Just Aren't Fair

    Recently, I met with one of the people that I mentor. She was concerned because she found people across the company with more senior titles, jobs, and more responsibility than her, but they didn't have more experience or better skills. Somehow, they were at the right place at the right time to make big...
  • Blog Post: Mistake or Trend?

    Sometimes there are almost too many things going on at work to keep it all straight. Is it fair to assume everyone on the team will get everything right? I say no. Many people you may only see at work, so sometimes it's easy to forget that they have lives outside of work. They have kids, hobbies, or...
  • Blog Post: Obsolete Yourself!

    The best managers are ones who work to obsolete their roles. Is this bad advice for managers especially given these economic times? Job security is all about being unique and knowing things others don't know, right? Well, managers need to consider how best to add value to the company and to the team...
  • Blog Post: 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...
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