J.D. Meier's Blog

Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness

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  • Blog Post: Declaration of Interdependence

    You might already know the Agile Manifesto : Individuals and interactions over processes and tools Working software over comprehensive documentation Customer collaboration over contract negotiation Responding to change over following a plan But do you know the Declaration of Interdependence : We increase...
  • Blog Post: Program Management Blog Posts at Your Fingertips

    “No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra.” — H.E. Luccock Welcome to my roundup of blog posts from across Microsoft on the art and science of Program Management . The Program Manager role is a very powerful one. I think of it as a technical entrepreneur that...
  • Blog Post: The Innovative Team

    I’m working my way through my massive book backlog, and doing reviews as a I go along.   Yesterday, I wrote my review of Mastermind: How To Think Like Sherlock Holmes . Today, I read and wrote my review of The Innovative Team:  Unleashing Creative Potential for Breakthrough Results . It...
  • Blog Post: The Key to Agility: Breaking Things Down

    If you find you can't keep up with the world around you, then break things down.  Breaking things down is the key to finishing faster. Breaking things down is also the key to agility . One of the toughest project management lessons I had to learn was breaking things down into more modular chunks...
  • Blog Post: The Art of the Agile Retrospective

    I’ve been asked to do a lot of Agile retrospectives around Microsoft over the years.  I don’t know how it started, but it started several years ago when somebody recommended that I lead a retrospective for their team, and then it caught fire from there.   In this post, I’ll share a simple...
  • Blog Post: Getting Things Done with SWAT Mode

    Getting things done during a big project can be a real series of humps and hurdles.  You can quickly get overloaded and overwhelmed if you don’t have a way to stay on top of things and to outpace your problems. I wrote a post on SWAT Mode for Extreme Productivity .  “SWAT Mode” is the term...
  • Blog Post: Roles on Agile Teams

    You can think of a role as a group of related tasks, activities, and responsibilities.  By knowing the responsibilities and core types of activities up front, you can help make sure you have the right people on the team so that you can achieve project success in a healthy and sustainable way. On...
  • Blog Post: Nobody Wants to Invest

    A colleague sketched a visual of a recurring theme he runs into, where “nobody wants to invest” in the time, to take a step back, to leap frog forward.  The visual looked like this:     I’ve seen this pattern, too.  There are lots of reasons.  Many of them come down to change...
  • Blog Post: Why So Many Ideas Die or Don't Get Adopted

    I didn’t know whether to call this why adoption fails, or why ideas die, but regardless, they are deeply related. After all, one of the main reasons ideas die is that they don’t get adopted, so they fizzle out. It’s usage that gives an idea enough legs to blossom and bloom. I see the same recurring patterns...
  • Blog Post: How We Adhered to the Agile Manifesto on the Microsoft patterns & practices Team

    A colleague asked if I could elaborate on how we adhered to the Agile Manifesto on the Microsoft patterns & practices team.    If you don’t know the Agile Manifesto , it’s a short set of sweet values, focused on building better software, flowing value to customers, while responding...
  • Blog Post: Roles and Responsibilities on Microsoft patterns & practices Project Teams

    One of the most common things I get asked, wherever I go is, “What were the team roles and responsibilities on your Microsoft patterns & practices project teams?” Effectively, there were a set of repeatable roles that people signed up for, or covered in some way.  In this case, a role is simply...
  • Blog Post: Visualize Your Workstreams

    One of the most helpful things you can do when you are doing cross-group or cross-team work, or working across multiple projects, is to show and share a simple map.  Here is an example: When people can see the map, it’s a lot easier to follow the flow of work.  It’s also easier to see intersections...
  • Blog Post: Change Patterns: Strategies for Influence and Impact

    The Change Patterns are a very fundamental set of strategies you can add to your Change Leadership toolkit. I’m a fan of patterns.  In their simplest form, they are a great way to build a shared vocabulary and rapidly transfer knowledge and experience.  It’s a great thing when a single word...
  • Blog Post: Agile Life-Cycle Frame

    As a program manager, it’s tough to shape a process with the team, if the team can’t “see” it.  When you have a mental model you can share with the team, things move a lot faster.   The problem with life cycles and end-to-end processes, is that people don’t usually know what the end-to...
  • Blog Post: Agile Performance Engineering

    In this post, I’ll share the model we used successfully for years in Microsoft patterns & practices to bake performance into an Agile Life Cycle. One of the key challenges with building software, is how to bake quality into your process.  Some teams try to do it all up front.  Some try...
  • Blog Post: Project Management Quotes

    I’ve put together a comprehensive collection of project management quotes .  I didn’t count them, but at a glance, it looks like more than 100 project management quotes covering key topics:  what is project management and what do project managers do, actions and tasks, change and change management...
  • Blog Post: The Rapid Research Method

    The Rapid Research Method is a way to speed up your product research.  It’s also a way to speed up ramp up time when you are leaning a new domain.  The Rapid Research Method is also a key for rapid innovation and rapid product design and development.  Lastly, the Rapid Research Method...
  • Blog Post: Kanban: The Secret of High-Performing Teams at Microsoft

    If you are a project manager or a program manager, or aspiring to be, one of the best project management tools you can add to your toolbox is the Kanban. In fact, if somebody were to ask me, what’s the single best way to exponentially improve project execution, I would probably say, the answer is Kanban...
  • Blog Post: Monthly Burn Rate

    One of the most useful patterns I’ve found to stay on top of a project budget is to think in terms of a monthly burn rate. As a program manager, one of my responsibilities is managing a budget. In the early days, I hated managing the budget because it always seemed like a lot of moving parts and more...
  • Blog Post: Agile Methodology in Microsoft patterns & practices

    “I put my heart and my soul into my work, and have lost my mind in the process.” -- Vincent Van Gogh I find myself mentoring on Agile practices and Agile methodology on a regular basis.  More and more teams are needing to stay connected with customers, respond to change, and flow value along the...
  • Blog Post: Job Creation

    The cycle of change is short in the knowledge age and digital economy.  Jobs end.  We create new ones.   Do we create new ones fast enough?  Do we have the durable and evolvable skills to make it in our emerging landscape? The cycle of change used to be longer.  One reason...
  • Blog Post: Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) Framework

    Here is a quick map of the process groups, knowledge areas, and processes in the PMBOK ( Project Management Body of Knowledge ).  Regardless of the PMI certification, I think it’s useful to know how the knowledge for project management is organized by experts and professionals.   This...
  • Blog Post: Elevator Pitches for Projects

    As a Program Manager, one of the things I’ve had to do a lot is, “pitch projects.”   Whether it’s pitching a project or talking about a project in the hall, it helps to have an elevator pitch that sticks.  The ideal elevator pitch for a project is simple, sticky, and makes the point fast...
  • Blog Post: Quick Tips on Work Breakdown Structures

    I’m a fan of Work Breakdown Structures (WBS) for project success.  For me, they’ve been the closest thing to a “Silver Bullet” when it comes to project management. Early in the project, I like to co-create the Work Breakdown Structure for the overall project with the team, so everybody knows the...
  • Blog Post: Visualizing Roadmaps for Execution Excellence

    One of the first things I do to get a handle on execution is to map out the work in flight in the form of a roadmap. When there are multiple teams shipping stuff, one of the best ways to improve coordination, collaboration, and planning is to make a simple roadmap. Just even putting the roadmap together...
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