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 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: 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: 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: Transformers are Leaders, not Toys!

    {EAV:fb71307c644189ca} I was recently asked ‘how do you take a team mostly focused on manual testing and turn them into a team that writes solid automation?’. And as I thought about my answer, I realized this doesn't just apply to testing, but any team that is reforming can follow these...
  • 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: 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: Commitment Calibration

    At Microsoft, we set commitments regularly for all employees. These are basically goals and focus areas that are written down to help employees remember what to work on and to clarify how their work is being measured. Here are some guidelines on verbosity that help when I review others' commitments:...
  • Blog Post: Action-oriented vs. Results-driven

    In many project teams, I see people mistaking actions for results. One of the best inputs a manager can give to a team is to evaluate when the team is too action-oriented and guide them to be more results-focused. If a project team is always really busy and working long hours but then they keep missing...
  • Blog Post: Test is not a landfill

    I heard the statement "Test is not a landfill!" today from one of my leads and thought it was a great way to describe what Test is striving for. Test should not be like a landfill. When I picture a landfill, I see a fenced in area that garbage gets dumped into. The garbage is the low-quality builds or...
  • Blog Post: Should BVTs pass 100%?

    This is the gray part of testing. Should the goal be that BVTs pass 100%? On every build, all the time? The right answer is YES. But is that really the right answer for all cases. Well, of course not. I do believe it is the right answer for most cases. BVTs (build verification tests) are tests that are...
  • Blog Post: Successful growth of a tester

    Many engineers, especially testers, ask me how they can grow their careers and how I know when they should be promoted. I've learned over the years that there are really three key focus areas that show that an engineer is growing. These are in addition to the standard skill set that all engineers need...
  • Blog Post: Guidelines for writing good individual review comments

    It's that time of year again at Microsoft where we get to write our reviews. I find it helpful as a manager to go over some guidelines with my team as a refresher on how to write good reviews. These are my opinions from what I've learned after doing reviews for the last 15 years. Some of these guidelines...
  • Blog Post: The perpetual state of being understaffed - does it really exist?

    The last few months have been a staffing challenge for me and my team. I lost a quarter of my team in a 3 month time period due to reorgs….and I couldn't replace any of them. Due to the economic climate, things are tight and that includes headcount. Then, my team was affected by lay-offs and I lost some...
  • Blog Post: Downward, upward, and sideways

    As a manager in an organization, there are different directions to apply focus and communications - downward, upward, and sideways. Test Managers who focus downward spend most of the time dealing with their team, with testing issues within the team, and generally push results through their team. If this...
  • Blog Post: Clones don't make good testers

    A few weeks ago, I attended a presentation about diversity and it was enlightening. I personally always think the word "diversity" is very corporate and used as standard manager terminology. For me, I instead think about diversity as " differences " between people. Everyone is different and it's not...
  • Blog Post: Automation maturity - what should a Test Manager focus on?

    Automation is frequently a passionate debate, usually around how much and whether it is effective. But are test managers prepared for the effects of automation as it grows? Instead of focusing on whether or not to automate or by how much, let's focus on what having automation on a test team means for...
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