Team Vs. Me

This week I have been reflecting on the relationship of ego to team, and how to deal with clashes of ego’s as teams form, and reform.

Over the last few months, I have watched a project that I am playing a key role on transform from an outsourced staff model to a hybrid staff model, to a staff aug model, to a hybrid aug model, and each transform has required changes in project leadership.Continue Reading

React or Reflect

I have been observing behavior patterns in leaders that I am around. Here is one observation:

Some leaders react to a situation, and others project the behavior that they want into the situation, so that others can reflect it back.

Sometimes this is positional. Leaders behave differently depending on the amount of automomy, or authority they have over the situation. So when leading from a position of authority they might react less, because they have the ability to directly impose change on the situation. The same leader, in a position of influence might react more, in order to generate a sense of urgency, because they have less authority. This behavior pattern may backfire, because it appears to others to be an attempt at overt maniipulation and reduces the leader’s influence, rather the opposite of the desired result.Continue Reading

Letter of Recommendation

Kent Beck recently posted a letter of recommendation from his future boss for the job that he hopes to get. Written from a perspective of 3 years into the future, it is a great exercise in bringing clarity to how he wants to be recognized by his employer for adding value.

I want to replicate this exercise, because I think it will help me bring clarity for myself to how I want to be perceived for bringing value to my current job, and what I need to do to change. My thanks to Kent for publishing his, as it was an inspiration to me.Continue Reading

Resume and Interview Preparation Tips

OK so I’ve been a manager off and on in information technology (especially software delivery) since 1990. I have hired a few employees, and more contract staff than I care to remember. I want to share some tips for getting your resume read and forwarded that work for me – they will get you a phone interview if you have the qualifications that I am looking for:

If you are looking for a role that has a leadership aspect: (technical architect, project manager, designer, manager, coordinator, scrum master, agile coach, product manager, etc. – if you are looking to move into a formal leadership role, then project that into your resume)

1) Make your resume tell me what kind of a job you are seeking. have a section devoted to how you want to add value on your next gig. Sometimes I call this “objective”. Objective focuses on the kind of roles you see yourself inhabiting, other times “summary” which focuses on your talent, skill, abilities and how you want to use that to add value to your employer. Hiring managers can quickly see whether there is synergy between their need and your direction. Let’s not waste each other’s time, shall we.

2) Clearly articulate the value that you added to your former/current employers. I like a Value, Action, Method format for bullets. Make sure that for each employer or job you put the biggest value at the top. (this tells me you know what is important, beyond just doing a job).

Example: <value> enabled 20% reduction in cost of admission processing <action> by delivering more efficient workflow and oversight <method> through implementation of BI dashboards in SSRS and BIZTalk workflow automation.

— don’t let your experience look like a job description. I see a lot of “responsible for this” or “participated in that” bullets. If you are hiring a QB for your football team, do you hire a QB who was responsible for calling plays, throwing passes and participated in running the offense? or do you hire one who scored 30 points per game, rushed for 100 yards, threw for 350 yards, had a 75% pass completion ratio over that last 3 seasons?

These tips apply to contributor roles as well: (developer, analysts, tester, sysadmin, network engineer, etc.) Continue Reading

Masterly Management

Don Gray wrote this post about management style entitled Managing in Mayberry. I thought that it was insightful. When I thought about the example he used, though, it was about a stable state system. It was managing to the status quo. Manager as remover of difficulty.

Where is manager as practice improver? Certainly the masterly manager will have to do this at times. Waiting and watching, allowing others to propose, building consensus – all good. But facilitating practice improvement requires decision making, and sometimes those decisions are not universally popular. How would the masterly manager deal with individuals that “go passive” or outspokenly negative about the improvements? How would the masterly manager deal with practice improvements that require cooperation with customers, or other departments.Continue Reading

One Size Fits All (Not!)

Often I have railed against the stupidity of management, when designing one size fits all “round hole” policies. It is the single most abused policy anti-pattern in my experience.

Policy Structure:
For the purpose of this discussion, any policy can be divided into three components:


  • Benefits (why I need a policy at all)
  • Means (How we will get the benefits)
  • Measures (How we will know the policy is working).

Policies are often not “free”, in that there is some cost to implementing the policy. Policies often have “side effects” that are changes not specified in the benefits. These side effects can be positive or negative. Usually, the side effects of policies appear as we have to adjust business processes and practices to comply with the policy. These adjustments are evidence of “square pegs”, or gaps in the policy that do not contemplate the essential complexities of the business model.

The old aphorism – “if the only tool you have is a hammer, then every problem starts to look like a nail” derives from this type of anti-pattern.Continue Reading