Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness
This is an excerpt from my latest book, Getting Results the Agile Way. It's from the A Word from the Author section. One of my reader's tells me that this was the most impactful prose for them. I think because it answers the question, "Why did I write this guide?" This is yet another reminder to me how important it is to lead with your why. Here it is ...
“Results were the name of the game, and I didn’t have the playbook. When I first joined Microsoft more than 10 years ago, I was overwhelmed. It was a sink or swim environment. Every day I had to play catch up from the day before. I got more email than I could possibly read, more action items than I could possibly do, and challenges that were beyond my skills. Inside the team, we affectionately called this scenario, “trial by fire.” There were no boundaries to my days, each day bled into night, where I was consistently “burning the midnight oil.” It reminded me of the saying, “whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.”
However, I hadn’t moved across the country, leaving everything and everyone I knew behind, to fail right off the bat. One of the first things I did to survive was study the best of the best. I found people in the company that got results and I learned from them. I learned everything I could about productivity from anybody who was willing to share their system with me.
...As I mentored people and teams around Microsoft to help them get results, I honed my system. It was one thing for me to get results, but it has been quite another to package it up for other people. Because I was continuously building new project teams, I needed a system for getting new people on each team up to speed quickly. As the saying goes, “necessity is the Mother of invention.” These challenges forced me to simplify my system, and lean it down to the most effective parts. The result is a tested system that’s scaled up to large teams, down to individuals, and is a system I can bet on time and again. The most important thing is simple, so if I fall off the horse, it’s easy to get back on.
This guide is my attempt to give you the playbook that I wish somebody had given me so many years ago for getting results.”
—Excerpt from “A Word from the Author”, J.D. Meier, Getting Results the Agile Way
It is interesting you had to go through this given the size of Microsoft back then and my thoughts that they would had a better system than what you mentioned. If they could not handle newbies; why hire them? Yeah, they are great, cheap and may develop into rockstar Software Engineers; but you have to know how to train them to get great results and not mess up their careers.
MS is huge - it gives you all tools you will even need to get your job done. The thing is there are so many to be done and there are even more tools. The pace is crazy. It excites but it can overwhelm you quickly too. Remember yourself how you learned to drive a car? I bet you were sweating like crazy at first... look at you now! you drive like you were born for it. It took time to learn how to be behind the wheel, eh?
@ Phil -- They handled newbies fine, and provided the best training I ever had. It's the space between the training + living it that tests us.
@ Alik -- I think the crazy pace is why we love this place. It's a constant source for growth and inspiration.
I'm totally looking forward to this.
Thanks - Arvindra