Category Archives: Reading Rack

A collection of my articles that have appeared in magazines, newsletters, and on other websites.

Building Effective Teams: Miss the Start, Miss the End

(This article originally appeared on Gantthead.com) “The beginning is the most important part of the work.” Plato, Greek philosopher and writer, 429–347 B.C.E. I’ve written several articles about a manager’s relationship with a team that has already formed. A manager’s relationship with a team as they work is essential for cultivating a self-organizing team and…

Continue Reading →

Rethinking Manager’s Relationship with Agile Teams

This article originally appeared on gantthead.com  In the early days of agile, some pundits (and developers) cried, “We don’t need no stinking managers.” By now, most people realize that organizations still need management (and people in management roles) after they adopt agile methods. However, if those organizations want all the benefits of agile, managers must…

Continue Reading →

Yes. No. Negotiate.

Many people are conditioned to say Yes to every request that comes their way. I met a CIO like that. He told me his policy was to never say No to the business. So he always said Yes, and the business was always angry because things he agreed to didn’t get done, or got done…

Continue Reading →

The Agile Blindside

(this article originally appeared on gantthead.com) Agile project management depends on transparency and feedback. Visibility into the product and process is built in with iteration reviews and retrospectives. Task walls and Kanban boards make progress (or lack of it) and bottlenecks obvious. Stand-up meetings seek to raise impediments to management attention. But are managers ready…

Continue Reading →

Fixing the Quick Fix

Here in the United States, our business culture tends to be action-oriented. We value the ability to think fast and act decisively. These qualities can be strengths. However, like most strengths, they can also be a weakness. Taking action when you don’t know the facts can lead to irreparable harm. Deciding too quickly before you’ve…

Continue Reading →

Talk, Talk, Talk

I wrote an article about the many ways that managers inadvertently plug the communication pipeline (free registration required). In doing so, they deprive themselves of the information they need to do their jobs. It reminded me of one of the most common ways managers block information–talking too much, listening too little. Some advice for managers… ***…

Continue Reading →

Still No Silver Bullets

Not so very long ago, I made my living writing code. My colleagues and I did our best to understand what our customers needed, and to write code that was easy for other programmers to understand, solid, defect free.  When our managers asked us how long it would take to create a new feature or…

Continue Reading →

Bridging Structural Conflict: Same and Different

No two people or groups are the same, but their differences don’t have to force them apart. I recently talked to two groups who were feuding. On one side were the development teams, tasked with delivering new functionality every two weeks. On the other were the operations folks, who were charged with keeping the environment…

Continue Reading →

Peer-to-Peer Feedback

One of the traps people fall into on teams is withholding information that’s critical for the team to function. Sometimes the information is about friction between team members. When team members don’t have a way to talk about small frictions, they turn in to big events, damage relationships and spill over onto the team.  So…

Continue Reading →

Are You Ready to Coach?

Agile coaches are expected to help teams learn agile methods, engineering techniques, and improve the productivity of the teams they work with.  But before they can do they need to be ready to coach.  Being ready to coach means that you have coaching skills, relevant technical and process skills. But the  foundational skill in coaching…

Continue Reading →

Page 1 of 5