Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness
I have a guest post from bestselling author, Gretchen Rubin on The Top 10 Lessons Learned in Happiness on Sources of Insight. Gretchen is a former lawyer from Yale, turned writer. What’s interesting to me about Gretchen is that she studied happiness by making it a project. During The Happiness Project, Gretchen spent a year test-driving every principle, tip, theory, and scientific study on happiness she could find. Her guest post is a summary of her top 10 lessons.
Read Gretchen’s Top 10 Lessons Learned in Happiness. If you like that, also check out Keys for Skilled Happiness.
I wrote up my top 10 lessons learned in how to be a successful individual contributor at Microsoft on Sources of Insight. Really, these lessons apply just about anywhere, and they especially apply in our new skills-for-hire economy. Here is a quick summary of my lessons:
For elaboration on these lessons, check out my post Proven Practices for Individual Contributors. If you like the post, be sure to check out my related posts:
I have a guest post by Janine de Nysschen on how to Discover the How to Your Why at Sources of Insight. This is a follow up to Janine's previous guest post, Discover Your Why. It's basically about putting your purpose into action. When you lead with your why and your how, you can bring your best game wherever you go. What you do is simply a channel for unleashing your best why and how. You’ve probably noticed this in the movies you see, or the stories you read. The context for the story might change, but you connect with the underlying themes. It’s the journey and the destination. This post is about leading your journey with your why and how for getting results at work and life.
I have a guest post, Lesson in Software from Mike de Libero, on Shaping Software. Mike was a security tester on the Microsoft Office team and has a variety of experiences under his belt. Here is a summary of his lessons:
You can read an explanation of the lessons in his post, Lesson in Software from Mike de Libero.
I wrote a post on PM Skills for Life on Sources of Insight. PM is short for “Program Manager.” I’ve been a PM for the past several years, and learned a ton along the journey. I attempted to do a roundup of some of the key skills and how they help with skilled living. Enjoy!
Do you know why you do what you do? Your why defines the difference you want to make in this world, and it inspires everything you do. For example, I originally joined Microsoft to help change the world and improve the quality of life for people through software. In fact, a lot of fellow Softees, joined Microsoft with the hopes to build a better world. When you live your why, a lot of other things fall into place. Sounds great, but how do you actually discover your why …
Well, I have a guest post from Janine de Nysschen on how to Discover Your Why on Sources of Insight. Janine is the founder of Whytelligence and has more than 25 years of experience in the strategy and intelligence arena.
Even if you already know why you do what you do, check out Janine’s advice to be sure you don’t fall into the logic trap – you should be emotionally connected to your purpose. So put on your curiosity cap and read discover your why with an open mind. Discovering your why, just might change your life.
My other blog, Sources of Insight is focused on effectiveness. I launched it as a way to put more focus on getting results and to help give my mentees a more focused path (I’m a mentor at Microsoft and regularly carry ~8 mentees.) One of the mantras on Sources of Insight is “Stand on the shoulder’s of giants!” The idea is that I share the best insights and actions I can find for work and life, from books, people, and quotes, along with my experience both inside and outside Microsoft.
Given my history on the patterns & practices team, my blog is heavily geared towards principles, patterns and practices to help people make the most of what they’ve got. I don’t care whether you’re an architect, an engineer, a tester, or whatever … we’re all in this together, and life throws curve balls. The purpose of the blog is to give you an unfair advantage, by sharing the world’s best insight and action for work and life. It’s ultimately a collection of patterns and practices for skilled living.
One of the things I haven’t been happy with is my tag line on Sources of Insight. I’ve tested several flavors but they didn’t resonate for one reason or another. My latest one seems to be working out pretty well. It’s simple and to the point: “Proven Practices for Getting Results!” It was actually a challenging exercise to find a tag line that actually worked for my readers. I bounced it against a broad set of people for feedback, from marketing experts to developers to you name it. I wrote up some of my lessons learned in designing an effective tagline in my post, The Design of an Effective Tagline.
Be sure to stop by and say hi. Feel free to introduce yourself and let me know any hot issues you’d like to see information on and, if it’s on topic, I’ll see if I can work it in. The main focus in the blog is a set of hot spots for life: mind, body, career, emotions, financial, relationships, and fun.
I have a guest post, Lessons in Software from James Waletsky, on Shaping Software. James is a Development lead at Microsoft, with several years of coaching teams on Agile practices and software engineering under his belt. Here is a summary of his lessons:
You can read an explanation of the lessons in his post, Lessons In Software from James Waletzky.
I have a post on Lessons Learned from Bruce Lee on Sources of Insight. Bruce Lee was one of my early inspirations. He was a patterns and practices kind of a guy. In fact, Bruce influenced my software engineering approach. Rather than lock into a single style, he took the best techniques from various martial arts and measured against effectiveness. For example, he took a boxer's hands and a wreslter's grappling skills.
Here is a summary of my lessons from Bruce:
My favorite Bruce Lee quote is "Absorb what is useful, Discard what is not, Add what is uniquely your own.” It's all about finding what works for you and not blindly adopting things.
I've included a more exhaustive list of my favorite Bruce Lee quotes in my post, Lessons Learned from Bruce Lee. Whether you're a Bruce Lee fan or on a path of personal development, I think you'll enjoy the tour of Bruce's insight and words of wisdom.
Our patterns & practices Acceptance Test Engineering Guide, Volume 1 (Beta 2) is now available on CodePlex. The working definition that the team is using for acceptance testing is the planned evaluation of a system by customers and customer proxies to assess to what degree it satisfies their expectations.
Common Scenarios Here are the key scenarios the guide addresses:
Team Here is the authoring team:
Contributors / Reviewers Here are the key contributors and reviewers:
I have a guest post, Lessons in Software from Alok Srivastava, on Shaping Software. Alok is a solution architect at Microsoft with several years of experience in large scale, distributed systems. In this post, he shares his lessons learned in software. Here is a summary of his lessons:
You can read an explanation of the lessons in his post, Lessons In Software from Alok Srivastava.
If you need to be a change agent at work, or make things happen in your life, Six Sources of Influence is for you. I wrote up a post on Six Sources of Influence on my Sources of Insight blog. The Six Sources of Influence was my favorite part of my Influencer Training here at Microsoft. The focus of the training was to improve my skills at analyzing and executing change, especially for persistent or resistant problems. I'm a fan of the model and I'm using it almost daily.
The power of the Six Sources of Influence is that rather than get stuck in a default pattern or a one-trick pony routine, you can get a better lens on the situation by evaluating the six sources. To visualize the model, think of a simple two-column table of motivation and ability, sliced in 3 parts: personal, social, and structural. You can then walk the model to figure out the key leverage points or centers of gravity. Instead of lucking into success, you can target your time and effort to actually produce more effective change and get results.
Check out my post on Six Sources of Influence and take it for a test drive.
I have a guest post on Shaping Software from Corey Ladas on Patterns and Practices of Lean Software Development. This is a follow up to Corey's previous post, Introduction to Lean Software Development. Several readers had ask for more information on the principles, patterns, and practices of Lean Software Development. Corey's latest guest post is in response to this request and provides a map and narrative of how some key principles, patterns, and practices can help support Lean Software Development.
Read Corey's post, Patterns and Practices of Lean Software Development.
My other little blog is growing up so fast ... Sources of insight is 10 months old. I originally started it to improve my blogging skills as well as to put more focus on personal development. I mentor a lot at work, so I used Sources of Insight as a channel to share patterns and practices for improving effectiveness. I named it Sources of Insight because I draw from books, people, and quotes, as well as other sources (such as movies.) It also reflects a lot of my learning on the job and experience from the school of hard knocks. I try to keep the tone less technical so more people can enjoy it, while still providing deep insights.
I've learned a lot along the way. The biggest lesson I've learned is that working on a blog is working on your life. It's like getting up to bat and each post is a chance to hit the ball out of the park, or maybe get a single or double, or maybe just strike out. There's a definite ebb and flow to it, just like life. I think that's what I like about it.
If you stop by Sources of Insight, be sure to say, "hi." Tell me what you like, don't like or want more of. The key goal on Sources of Insight is to share the best patterns and practices for personal development. If you don't know where to start, I recommend starting with the About, then You 2.0, and then Living Your Process. If you need a boost of motivation, cherry pick your favorites from my list of Motivation Quotes. If you want to fill your quiver with some of the best techniques for getting results, then be sure to read Rituals for Results. It's a fast tour of some sure-fire ways to improve your results.
I'm honored to have a guest post on Shaping Software from Corey Ladas on Introduction to Lean Software Development. Corey is a product development methodologist and the author of Scrumban: Essays on Kanban Systems for Lean Software Development.
In the post, Corey explains the principles of Lean Thinking, the origins of Lean Thinking, the metaphor school of Lean Software Development and the workflow school of Lean Software Development.
Read Corey's post Introduction to Lean Software Development.
Whether you need to change something in your life or make changes at work, influence is your friend. I just finished a 2 day course on influence. It exceeded my expectations. It was jam packed with insight and action I can use on the job. I walked away with an effective framework for diagnosing problems of all shapes and sizes. I think of it as "skilled change management." Rather than push on a problem from one angle or throw one solution at it, I can inspect the problem from multiple dimensions and find the best leverage points. The heart of the approach is thinking in terms of motivation and ability, and then analyzing from a personal, social, and structural perspective. Another key is finding and focusing on vital behaviors that exponentially improve your results.
I wrote up my notes from my training, put them on my other blog, Sources of Insight. The post is Influencer - The Power to Change Anything. So far, I've shared my notes from day 1, but I still need to write up and share notes from day 2.
I wrote a post on Productivity Personas at Sources of Insight. It's simply a way to identify and label some common behaviors you see in yourself and others when it comes to producing results. Once you know the personas, you can effectively switch hats and use the right personas for the job. Using these personas, you can also better analyze team performance. For example, if you have a bunch of "starters" but no "finishers" you might be in trouble bringing things to closure. Here's a list of the personas:
For a quick summary of the personas, check out Productivity Personas.
Personal Development is one of my passions. I find and share the principles, patterns, and practices that work. I have some draft thinking that I'm sharing in my You 2.0 E-Book. I turned a slide deck into a PDF to make it easier to share. It's brief (25) pages and quick to flip through. More importantly, it captures a mash up of some of the most important principles, patterns, and practices for leading from the inside out. When you drive from the inside out, you amplify your impact and improve your effectiveness. It also gives you a strong foundation for dealing with life's curve balls.
Why You 2.0 Here are a some key benefits:
Read my post and download the You 2.0 E-Book on Sources of Insight.
I'm honored to have a guest post on Sources of Insight from Dr. Rick Kirschner (aka Dr.K on How To Design a Fulfilling Life. Dr. K is the best-selling author of Dealing with People You Can't Stand. If you're an engineer or simply like doing things by design, Dr. K shares some of his thoughts on how to live a life by design vs. by default. Here's a summary of his lessons:
For me, the guiding rule that helps me shape my life is, "give your best where you have your best to give." It forces me to focus on my strengths and lift others up.
Read How To Design a Fulfilling Life.
I'm a fan of continuous learning. My post Lessons Learned in patterns & practices on Shaping Software summarizes some of my best lessons. It's from the school of hard knocks. I've been lucky enough to have some great mentors that have really helped me unleash my best. I've also been lucky enough to work on a variety of challenging projects that have grown my experience and capabilities beyond what I ever expected. The post is my attempt to both remind myself of the key lessons and to share those lessons with you. Absorb what is useful.
Top Ten Lessons Here's a list of the top 10 lessons:
One of the ways I've learned to carry lessons forward is to turn them into terse little guidelines. It makes them sticky and easier to recall. I also find that some of my best mentors tend to have a way with words and they share their advice as pithy sayings.
For more lessons and elaboration check out my post, Lessons Learned in patterns and practices.
I'm honored to have a guest post on Sources of Insight from Dr. Rick Kirschner (aka Dr.K) on Top 10 Lessons in Interpersonal Skills. Dr. K is the best selling author of Dealing with People You Can't Stand. I think that communication skills improve your effectiveness in just about any situation. I find this is especially true in software development given how much of the work is about collaboration, teamwork, and getting things done with other people. You can luck into communication success or you can learn key skills. Dr. K does a great job of giving actionable, prescriptive advice for bringing out the best in people.
Here's a summary of the top 10 lessons in interpersonal skills:
Read Top 10 Lessons on Interpersonal Skills for more on these lessons.
I posted slides on how we do Customer Connected Engineering at patterns & practices to Shaping Software. Customers Connected Engineering (CCE) is how we engage customers throughout our product development. We formally engage customers during the planning, development, and release of our deliverables to help make sure our deliverables are customer-driven. Customers supply the scenarios, help prioritize, and provide feedback helping reduce the gap between what we build and what customers actually need. It's effectively a prosumer model where the producer pairs with the consumers to improve the results.
Find out more about Customer Connected Engineering including key activities and guiding principles.
I added a set of my favorite motivation quotes to Sources of Insight. You never know where you might find just the inspiration you need.
My Architecture Journal article is live, A Language for Architecture. I wrote the article to share the map of application architecture we created during our patterns & practices Application Architecture Guide 2.0 project. It's a simple language for helping you get in the ballpark when you're traversing the very large space of software architecture. By framing and naming the space, we can more effectively share our principles, patterns, and practices for application architecture. This also helps consolidate all the great information spread over time and space and threads and heads. More importantly, if we simplify how we talk about architecture, we can move up the stack as well as pave paths for others and help mentor others in our field. Instead of asking basic questions like what is architecture, we can ask things like how do we define archetypes for the cloud or how do improve product line engineering for common systems and application types? In our case, we're using the language to help rationalize our portfolio of assets in our patterns & practices product line.
Why the Map There's an explosion of concepts in the architecture space. While working on the Application Architecture 2.0 Guide, we needed a simple, but effective bird's-eye view of the space. By framing and naming the space, we created a shared vocabulary, helped avoid information overload, and made it easier to find, organize, and share principles, patterns, and practices with customers, field, and product teams. It's good for the ecosystem.
Usage Scenarios Here's some usage scenarios:
Key Concepts Here's some key concepts behind the map and language:
The Map The key components of the language include:
Bob Brumfield and Blaine Wastell from our patterns & practices team talk about Prism 2.0 with the Elegant Code Cast in Code Cast 26 - Prism 2.0. Prism 2.0 is our patterns & practices Composite Client Application Guidance. It's prescriptive guidance to help you build modular Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) and Silverlight client line of business (LOB) applications.
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