/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..…

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Fill in the blanks

I’ve been noticing what’s missing lately. In some ways, its harder to see what’s not there than what is. But there’s lost of useful information in what isn’t said, as well as what is. For example: A manager, talking about one of the people who reported to him said: “He’s difficult to manage.” What’s missing?…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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Building a Requirements Foundation with Customer Interviews

© 2004-2010 Esther Derby This article originally appeared in my newsletter, insights.  You can sign up to receive my newsletter using the form on the right. “Our customer doesn’t know what he wants,” complained Sandy. “I try to get him to talk about the product and tell me what he wants, but it’s like pulling teeth.”…

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The Benefits of Peer Feedback

Peer feedback is a core skill for collaboration. It’s impossible to work closely with out running into some bumps: differences, disappointments, and disagreements. Peer to peer feedback can help keep working relationships on track and improve results (and it keeps the manager out of the transaction so it doesn’t be come a *big deal*). I…

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intake->meaning->feeling->response

Mike Cottmeyer writes about Feelings, Thoughts, and Actions. When people have a strong response, Mike describes thoughts as the point of leverage to change behavior. How we think can be influenced more directly… it is somehow less personal. We can learn about our environment and the people that are a part of our lives. We…

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Face to Face Still Matters

There’s been a discussion going on the the Retrospectives list on how to do distributed retrospectives and planning meetings. The assumption is that it’s cost prohibitive to bring the group together. People always site cost as a barrier. It does cost money to bring people together face to face. There’s lodging, airfare, time not spent…

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