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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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 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...
18 Jan 2014
Sometimes At Work, We Act Like Dogs
You can only buy loyalty if you buy a dog; otherwise loyalty has to be earned. One of the best things an engineering manager can receive from their team members is loyalty. It's not something that you should ever ask of them, but they may just give it to you anyway. When you have people that are loyal...
9 Dec 2013
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
Are You Aware That You Lack Awareness?
Recently I took a very interesting training class. As part of that class, we had to sit still in the room for 8 minutes with our eyes closed and become aware of sensations in our body. How hard can that be right? Yep, it was easy. I was hungry, maybe a bit tired, and eventually fairly bored with this...
30 Aug 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
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
Integrity With a Dose of Confidence Part2
My last blog was about how to act as a person with integrity, how to make sure you are thinking in terms of doing the right things for the right reasons no matter hard difficult that may be to do. Sometimes the easiest route is not the right route. As you continue to become a person of integrity, there...
12 Nov 2012
Integrity With a Dose of Confidence
Ok, I’ll say it because I know others have thought it, but I’m not sure anyone has ever admitted it. Having integrity in your role at work can be tough, very tough! Especially if you are really ambitious. First, let’s make sure we are talking about the same thing here. What I mean by...
25 Oct 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
What are your intentions?
When it comes to determining someone's intentions, it's fairly easy to do after a few drinks and a walk back to your apartment with someone you just met at the bar. But let's not go there. :-) Knowing someone's intentions becomes much more difficult in a work setting. What if the scope of your work got...
22 Aug 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
That Team Is Struggling - Great!
Ok, you are thinking that I'm crazy. If the team is struggling, why would you want to be on it? Or lead it? Do you really want to set yourself up to deal with all the problems that need fixed? And what if they aren't fixable? Doesn't a well-established, smooth-functioning team sound like one where it...
30 Dec 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
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...
4 Mar 2011
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...
4 Sep 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
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...
12 Mar 2010
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