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: 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: 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...
  • 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: 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...
  • 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: 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: 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...
  • Blog Post: 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...
  • 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: 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...
  • 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: 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...
  • 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: 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: 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: 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...
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