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Brad Abrams

Design Guidelines, Managed code and the .NET Framework

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  • Blog Post: Program Manager (PM) Tip Index

    I thought it would be worthwhile to produce an index for the (very) occasional series I have on giving tips to PMs at Microsoft. PM Tip #10: Interview Tips for Landing a Great Program Management Job PM tip# 11: Information is the Currency of Program Management PM Tip #14: Great teams have members...
  • Blog Post: PM Tip #10: Interview Tips for Landing a Great Program Management Job

    Update: See the full list of PM Tips . Recently a friend of mine at Microsoft asked about tips for how to land a great Program Management job at Microsoft. It has been a while since I did a “PM Tips” post, so I thought I’d use the opportunity to share my thoughts and get your feedback. I have done...
  • Blog Post: Presentation tip: They Remember the Mistakes more than the Polish

    Update: See the full list of PM Tips . One of the reasons I love going to Mix is getting a chance to watch really world-class technical speakers. As I watched the keynote and a few sessions this year one theme really stood out to me: The audience seems to remember how the speaker handles their mistakes...
  • Blog Post: Book Review: Made to Stick

    I just finished reading (ok... listening) to Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die. The authors do a great job at expanding on some ideas on how to make ideas resonate and, well, stick with your audience... This is a key skill for any Program Manager needing to lead without authority....
  • Blog Post: PM Tip #14: Great teams have members that defy roles

    Update: See the full list of PM Tips . I was asked recently to define the roles for PMs on my team. Specifically what they should do as compared with the dev and test teams. I flatly refused. The best teams I have worked in and with are those that defy the traditional roles and responsibilities. Putting...
  • Blog Post: That is a full day's work!

    I am starting to work on writing some annual employee performance reviews and I was thinking about one of the first bits of advice my manager gave me when I joined Microsoft "Don't confuse activity with results". As we reflect over the year, it is easy, and natural to think about all the activities we...
  • Blog Post: FxCop Honored with Chairman's Award for Engineering Excellence

    Every year, Microsoft honors a few innovations that have furthered the state of engineering excellence at Microsoft... Some years, Bill Gates selects one of the winners to honor with the special distinction of the chairman's award. I am told that Bill does this for truly noteworthy achievements that...
  • Blog Post: Are you ready to make a change?

    The ASP.NET team is looking to fill some senior Program Manager positions and you might be just the right person. I would love to have someone who is passionate about the web’s potential, who is an expert in common web technologies such as Php, Rails, JSP, Ajax (and of course .NET), who wants to build...
  • Blog Post: The Wisdom of Crowds: Rethinking consensus

    I am a HUGE believer in building consensus , but The Wisdom of Crowds is starting to make be rethink the approach a bit. I just finished reading, ok listening to the audio version on my bike ride into work, James Surowiecki's latest book. His point is that groups of people make good decisions on matters...
  • Blog Post: PM Tip #12: Don't waste keystrokes

    Update: See the full list of PM Tips . At Mix I ran into Jeff Atwood who reminded me about a my post on the "Be More Visible" Sham . He also told me I should take a look at Jon Udell's post Too busy to blog? Count your keystrokes [via Jeff's blog ] While I don't think every PM has to be a noteworthy...
  • Blog Post: Building Consensus

    One of the core skills of a Program Manager is to build consensus. Microsoft (like many knowledge-worker driven IT companies) is not a top-down organization. For the most part, projects, ideas, directions are taken on through a consensus building exercise at one level or another. While this can be frustrating...
  • Blog Post: The What and the How

    I was talking recently with a coworker of mine about the “what” and the “how” of software projects. The “What” is the definition of the thing you are building. What customers should we go after? What markets should we serve? What competitors do we care about? What scenarios matter most? What feature...
  • Blog Post: Thoughts on writing reviews...

    Well, it is that time of year again here Microsoft – time for managers to write employee reviews (they are due 9/15 folks ;-)). While this is the subject of much Dilbert-style joking, I thought it would be useful for me to write down a few of my opinions, habits, and observations about actually writing...
  • Blog Post: PM tip# 11: Information is the Currency of Program Management

    A huge differentiator between mediocre PMs and excellent PMs is how they deal with information. Anyone that has been a PM for more than a few days inherently knows that information – getting, distilling, combining and distributing of ideas – is a key part of just about every PM job. PMs that know how...
  • Blog Post: The Beta vs. CTP Dilemma

    Over the last couple of years, the CTP or C ommunity T echnology P review has been one of the bigger changes in the way Microsoft release software. Microsoft introduced the concept of CTPs with the “Whidbey” .NET Framework and Visual Studio release but I was happy to see the concept spread to SqlServer...
  • Blog Post: PM Tip #72 Instant feedback...

    Update: See the full list of PM Tips . One thing I love about blogs is the instant feedback aspects. While certainly comments on a blog are far from scientific you can get some great anecdotal responses that can help you see problems in a new way or provide some real-world data to backup one position...
  • Blog Post: PM Tip #21: Sanity Will Prevail

    Update: See the full list of PM Tips . One of the core jobs of a PM is to hold tight to the vision of the product. There are a million things that can distract you and set you back. Features get cut, resources get moved, partners fail to deliver.. the list goes on and on. Many of these things are...
  • Blog Post: PM Tip # 32: Nothing kills excitement like ambiguity

    Update: See the full list of PM Tips . As a PM, one of your key jobs is building excitement for your feature. This excitement is important among many different audiences. · Among potential customers for your feature – Customers rarely buy or adopt what they are not excited about. · Within...
  • Blog Post: PM Tip #57: Write the agenda on the board

    Update: See the full list of PM Tips . One could write a whole set of books on how to have (or not have) a great meeting... this post deals with a very specific and actionable way to improve your meetings. The rule is very simple. Write down the agenda on some visible surface that all participants...
  • Blog Post: PM Tip #73: The "Be More Visible" Sham

    Update: See the full list of PM Tips . One common message PMs get from their managers is to “be more visible” (I know I have given that feedback myself) . The manager often says it this way: “Billybob, you are doing great work, getting the right things done on time, but you are not being visible...
  • Blog Post: Program Manager Wisdom #78: Reveal your stupidity

    I have been doing a little thinking recently about how to be a good Program manager. What skills, habits and practices I have seen successful in the past? And I have been making my way through Orson Scott Card’s Ender series . I never thought the two would meet... but they did. Last night I ran...
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