/Estimating/ is often helpful. /Estimates/ are often not.

Recently, I tweeted, “/Estimating/ is often helpful. /Estimates/ are often not.” Several people asked, “How can this be?” Let me say more, in more than 140 characters. /Estimating/ is often helpful. Estimating helps when the process of estimating builds shared understanding among the people who want the work done and the people doing the work..…

Continue Reading →

Peck, peck, peck

A participant in one of my workshops of my workshops declared that in every team there is pecking order….and every one knows what the order is from one to n.  Since this is the case, he reasoned, it follows that ranking people in organizations is a reasonable management practice. This is not the first time…

Continue Reading →

Empowering Leadership II

Every team needs leadership, even self-organizing teams. When I make this statement, some people assume I mean that every team needs a designated leader.  I can’t blame them, most people are accustomed to thinking of leadership residing in a role or a charismatic individual—a “born” leader. On self-organizing teams, there isn’t one leader.  Agile teams…

Continue Reading →

Best at argument != Best ideas

I was talking to my friend Penny the other day about a team she coaches. There’s a really smart guy on the team. I’ll call him Bob. Most of the time Bob is an asset to the team. But when the team needs to decide on a technical solution under time pressure, he’s not. “But…

Continue Reading →

There’s I(ntelligence)Q, and then there’s I(nfluence)Q

People who work in software are smart people who take pride in their abilities to understand complex information and solve difficult problems. But much of the work isn’t only about smarts. Creating most software requires the help and cooperation of other people. Telling, convincing, and winning arguments won’t work to bring people along, change their…

Continue Reading →

As Goes the Contracting, So Goes the Contract

A while back, a colleague, Susan, called to ask me for some advice. “I’ve been planning a vacation with my family for months,” she said. “And now my new client wants me on-site next week. I’d be happy to come the week after next, but they keep pushing. I told them I couldn’t come because…

Continue Reading →

Dealing with “Difficult” Co-workers

We all have coworkers who rub us the wrong way, get on our nerves, and generally drive us crazy. Let’s consider these examples of three people who have difficult coworkers: 1. Ted finished working on a difficult bit of code and headed for the team meeting. When he got there, Sandy looked at her watch…

Continue Reading →

Is Collaboration the Right Way to Work? It Depends.

As a manager, your job is to organize people and work for success. That includes work design–figuring out whether you have a group or a team and creating an environment where people can do their best work. I don’t know about you, but work design wasn’t part of my training as a technical person, and…

Continue Reading →

Collaboration: more than facilitated meetings

I’ve noticed something lately: when people write about collaboration, they discuss facilitated meetings or affinity grouping stickynotes. Well-run meetings that encourage participation and building consensus are certainly valuable. Grouping stickynotes can help people see common ideas. Yet, there’s  much more to collaboration than meetings and affinity grouping. True collaborative assumes shared responsibility, shared ownership, and…

Continue Reading →

Hiring for a Collaborative Team

If you’re a hiring manager, you know that a typical hiring process emphasizes technical skills, functional skills, and industry knowledge. Interpersonal skills are near the bottom of the list, if they make the list at all. However, if you’re hiring for an agile team, or any other team that must collaborate to succeed, put interpersonal…

Continue Reading →