Author Archives: Don Gray

About Don Gray

www.donaldegray.com

Why Not Ask Why?

2011 Don Gray It all started with a tweet I posted: “Why” questions trigger feelings bypassing data input and thinking. #dontdothat As this got retweeted, interesting questions started coming my way: What about the Five Whys? Do you have data? … Continue reading

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Skills for Software Smoke Jumpers

©2007 Don Gray Do you know about smokejumpers? They’re brave, self-sufficient firefighters who parachute into remote areas wearing eighty pounds of gear and ready to fight a forest fire. If the jump goes well, they land safely. After extinguishing the … Continue reading

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When Your Projects Are a Program

I was supposed to start coaching with a project manager, Trish. She postponed our weekly coaching call–for the third time. I said, “Trish, are you postponing again because you have too much work to do?” “Yes!” “Then I suggest we … Continue reading

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Facilitating a Temperature Reading

I have posted my article about facilitating a Temperature Reading. The article was lifted from the handouts for the AYE Warmup Tutorial so it also serves as an example of the quality of the material that Don Gray and I … Continue reading

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The Virtual Cyber Cudgel – Working with or against your users?

How many different ways can you aggravate and confuse the people who are subjected to using your software? In this week’s new article The Virtual Cyber Cudgel, Jerry Weinberg shares some of the data input hoops he’s jumped through.

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Why Choose AYE?

In these days when money is short, lots of people cannot afford to participate all the conferences they might have attended last year. Money may be the first criterion for choosing conferences, but it’s not the only one. Here are … Continue reading

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The Blame Game

©2007, 2009 Don Gray and Jerry Weinberg Engelbert watched Pam nervously chew on her knuckle as she stood in the door of his office, answering his call. “Come in and close the door.” He motioned her to a seat, then … Continue reading

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The Art of the Discovery Interview

Interviewing is an art. I suggest many ideas for conducting more effective interviews in the article Drawing Out the Facts: The Art of the Discovery Interview. If you can only do three of them, I recommend: Building a foundation of … Continue reading

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Planning for problems

It’s exciting to start something new. A new project, new development language, joining a new team. We often don’t take the time time to think through what might go wrong. When things go wrong, we feel trapped, just like Engelbert … Continue reading

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This Title May Change at Any Time. How Do You Feel About That?

©2005 Don Gray Three of my favorite quotes about change and translations: “The only person who likes change is a wet baby.” This change corrects a problem so I’m OK with it. “Everyone likes change, when someone else is doing … Continue reading

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Software and Society: What it Means to Be Professional

©1998, 2002 Don Gray, www.donaldegray.com Man’s achievements rest upon the use of symbols. – Alfred Korzybski Why is our field struggling in its efforts to become and engineering discipline? The answers lies in our heritage as symbol processors and the … Continue reading

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Shifting the Burden – Whose Monkey Is It?

©2005 Don Gray “Repeatedly curing a system that can cure itself will eventually create a system that can’t.” – Marvin’s Second Great Secret, Jerry Weinberg “Don, the software’s locked up again! Can you come up here tomorrow and fix it?” … Continue reading

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Multiuse Model

©2007 Donald E. Gray Models are like kitchen utensils. You need a variety of them, and you should know when and how to use them. They should be useful for more than a single task. I recently started exploring the … Continue reading

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Communication Gaps

©2003 Don Gray, www.donaldegray.com I just got off the phone with Joel. We worked a project 12 years ago where he was the client’s technical rep, and I supplied some specialty software to his company. As we renewed acquaintances, he … Continue reading

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Danger: Couple at Work

I swore I wouldn’t write about consulting done by married couples. It’s a trite discussion, as far as I’m concerned. But then I read Dilbert on December 12, 1999. The Pointy-Haired Boss hired two new engineers — a couple. The … Continue reading

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Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There!

©2003 Don Gray, www.donaldegray.com I remember when I first started solving problems for a living. I would leap down the stairs three at a time, race to the computer room, and stare at the line printer (yes, it was that … Continue reading

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How did This Happen

©2005 Don Gray It was Saturday afternoon when the house phone rang. “Don, this is John. I know we haven’t talked in 10 years, but I have a client who has a problem.” In 20 years I’ve never had a … Continue reading

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How to Kill a Software Company

©2002 Don Gray A Software Project By Any Other Name Most software practitioners and managers are aware of a project’s three legs. These legs are features, schedule and quality. (1) While all of these are important for a successful project, … Continue reading

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The Identified Patient Pattern

©2006 Don Gray and Jerry Weinberg Engelbert frowned, trying to understand why Pamela had been acting strangely. Her programming skills were among the best in the company. She had a way of getting things completed. That’s why he made her … Continue reading

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Learning What You Don’t Know

©2005, Don Gray “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” — Mark Twain Working on hardware projects requires incredible attention to detail. Design time can take … Continue reading

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Lunches, Looks, and Loops

©2004, Don Gray Michelle works as a software engineer. Recently we discussed the utility concept (Measuring and Managing Performance in Organizations, Austin)1 and she asked, Cant we just measure for the sake of learning? Measuring for learning is a wonderful … Continue reading

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Managing in Mayberry: An examination of three distinct leadership styles

2001 Don Gray and Dan Starr Near the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina, not far from where you think it should be, there really is a town called Mayberry. Although the main highway bypassed the town years ago, the … Continue reading

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Communication Disconnects

©2007 Don Gray “Why doesn’t my manager listen when I explain the details?” “Why doesn’t the developer just give me what I ask for?” If you’ve ever heard these complaints-or made them-you’re not alone. Questions like these are a symptom … Continue reading

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