Author Archives: Esther Derby

About Esther Derby

www.estherderby.com

Self-Facilitation Skills for Teams

(c) 2004-2010 Esther Derby Self-organizing teams don’t just organize the technical work. They make technical (and non-technical) decisions. Not every situation requires facilitation, but when a team faces an important decision, applying facilitation skills to the problem saves time and … Continue reading

Posted in Articles | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Is Collaboration the Right Way to Work?

©2008-2009, Esther Derby 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. … Continue reading

Posted in Articles | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Approaching a Conflict in Style

©2006-2007 Esther Derby This column originally appeared on Stickyminds.com. Conflict is inevitable at work. Sooner or later, you will disagree about what to test, when to test or how long to test software. How you.and the person you disagree with.approach … Continue reading

Posted in Articles | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Building a Requirements Foundation Through Customer Interviews

© 2004 Esther Derby “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.” Whether you are building a brand … Continue reading

Posted in Articles | Tagged | 3 Comments

Communicating Up

© 2004 Esther Derby This column originally appeared on Stickyminds.com Imagine this scene – you’ve just gotten back from lunch and you’re checking your email. The first email you open is from the VP: Effective immediately, starting with the release … Continue reading

Posted in Articles | Tagged | Leave a comment

Change That Fits

© 2003 Esther Derby, www.estherderby.com Cedric moved through his office packing up his personal belongings. His boss, Sheila, stood in the doorway, looking uncomfortable. As he started the last box, Cedric sat down in his chair. “How did it come … Continue reading

Posted in Articles | Tagged | Leave a comment

Beyond Belief

(c) 2001 Esther Derby, www.estherderby.com This article originally appeared in STQE, March/April 2001. Let me tell you a little story, a true story, about how our beliefs influence what we see in the world and affect our ability to solve … Continue reading

Posted in Articles | Tagged | Leave a comment

At What Cost?

© 2002 Esther Derby, www.estherderby.com This column originally appeared in STQE magazine, July/August 2001 Not long ago, I reread a discussion about Internet Time on Jerry Weinberg’s SHAPE Forum (www.geraldmweinberg.com), and it got me wondering: Now that many dot-coms have … Continue reading

Posted in Articles | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Appreciation Gap

©2004 Esther Derby In a recent workshop, I described an exercise for expressing appreciation. “That won’t go over here,” stated Patty, one of the managers in the workshop. “These are engineers; they don’t want that mushy stuff. Besides, they know … Continue reading

Posted in Articles | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Quality Interactions

©2005 Esther Derby This article originally appeared in insights Vol. 3 No. 1 Usually, when we think about software quality, we think of good designs, maintainable code, or low defects. In my view, quality starts long before we start writing … Continue reading

Posted in Articles | Tagged | Leave a comment

Real-Time Feedback

©2003 Esther Derby, www.estherderby.com Twice a week, I go to the gym and weight train with Brooke Darst, a Certified Personal Trainer. As I perform my exercises, Brooke provides a constant stream of feedback: Minor corrections, “Chin in! Lower your … Continue reading

Posted in Articles | Tagged | Leave a comment

The ROTI Method of Gauging Meeting Effectiveness

©2003 Esther Derby. This column originally appeared on Stickyminds.com If you lead meetings, you can make improvements starting tomorrow. For a small investment of your time, you can return time to your staff by eliminating unnecessary meetings and improving the … Continue reading

Posted in Articles | Tagged | Leave a comment

Should a ScrumMaster Give Performance Appraisals?

©2006 Esther Derby A ScrumMaster recently asked me if he should take over responsibility for year-end performance evaluations since he was closer to the work than the functional manager for the team. It’s not the first time I’ve heard this … Continue reading

Posted in Articles | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Secret Ingredients of High Morale

©2004 Esther Derby This column originally appeared on Stickyminds.com Jessica and Sean scowled as they headed back to their cubicles after the company spirit meeting. “I can’t believe they wasted two hours of our time with that award ceremony and … Continue reading

Posted in Articles | Tagged , | Leave a comment

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

©2002 Esther Derby, www.estherderby.com A software project is a complex thing. It involves many players, many tasks, and lots of things that could go wrong (and often do). If not for dogged optimism, some projects might not be tackled at … Continue reading

Posted in Articles | Tagged | 1 Comment

What’s Your IQ?

©2002-2003 Esther Derby, www.estherderby.com People who work in software are smart people. We take pride in our ability to understand complex information and solve difficult problems. What about that other IQ, our Influence Quotient? To some of us, influence is … Continue reading

Posted in Articles | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Where Does Your Time Go?

©2003 Esther Derby, www.estherderby.com Last week I visited a development team working on the company’s next big product. As I talked to one of the team, I could hear phones ringing, pagers beeping, and see people popping up to talk … Continue reading

Posted in Articles | Tagged | Leave a comment

Performance Without Appraisal

©2007 Esther Derby The idea of merit rating is alluring. The sound of the words captivates the imagination: pay for what you get; get what you pay for;motivate people to do their best, for their own good. The effect is … Continue reading

Posted in Articles | Tagged | Leave a comment

Pennywise

©2005 Esther Derby This column originally appeared on Stickyminds.com Back in the late 90s, both demand for qualified people and salaries were high. Hiring managers scrambled to make offers within hours of seeing a promising resume and bidding for the … Continue reading

Posted in Articles | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Delivering Effective Feedback

©2003, Esther Derby, www.estherderby.com Josh was dumbfounded when his boss, Brad, fired him. As far as he knew, his work was just fine. But Brad believed hed given Josh ample warning that his work and work habits werent up to … Continue reading

Posted in Articles | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Designing Useful Metrics: Using Observation, Modeling, and Measurement to Make Decisions

©2000 Esther Derby www.estherderby.com Originally published in STQE magazine, May/June 2000 As a manager, you want to increase effectiveness and improve the quality of software. Using measurement as a tool for accomplishing this, however, may be something you’re skeptical about. … Continue reading

Posted in Articles | Tagged , | Leave a comment

How to Improve Meetings When You’re Not in Charge

©2004, Esther Derby This column originally appeared on Stickyminds.com Are you tired of attending endless meetings where the conversation goes in circles and nothing gets done? Even if you can’t stand up and take control, you can nudge the meeting … Continue reading

Posted in Articles | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Facing Up to the Truth

©2002 Esther Derby www.estherderby.com This column originally appeared in STQE magazine November/December 2001 “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” William Shakespeares Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, Act II, Scene 2 The other day I was … Continue reading

Posted in Articles | Tagged | Leave a comment

Going the Distance: Five Tactics to Compensate for Distance on Distributed Teams

2006 Esther Derby When people communicate face-to-face, they not only hear words and inflections, but also see facial expressions. This helps each communicator understand what the other is saying and gives clues to assess when people are mad, sad, or … Continue reading

Posted in Articles | Tagged | Leave a comment

Do We Have to Choose Between Management and Leadership?

©2006-2007 Esther Derby This column originally appeared on stickyminds.com In a recent discussion on the state of a software company, a programmer declared, “We don’t need managers around here, we need leaders!” I’m always puzzled by statements like this. “How … Continue reading

Posted in Articles | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Managing a Struggling Employee

©2003 Esther Derby, www.estherderby.com Sooner or later every manager faces the same dilemma: What do I do when I inherit or hire an employee who turns out to be a poor fit for the job? Tom was the development manager … Continue reading

Posted in Articles | Tagged | Leave a comment

Incorporating Part-time Team Members

©2006, Esther Derby This article originally appeared on stickyminds.com. “Part-timers just don’t seem to fit in with the team,” a manager complained. “I do everything I can to impress on them the importance of team work and team spirit, but … Continue reading

Posted in Articles | Tagged | Leave a comment

Peer-to-Peer Feedback

Posted in Articles | Tagged | Leave a comment

Measuring Up

©2003 Esther Derby, www.estherderby.com This column originally appeared on Stickyminds.com It’s 10 a.m. You’re about to ship to five beta sites. You’ve met the date, you’re within budget, and the defect counts have been steadily declining for the last four … Continue reading

Posted in Articles | Tagged | Leave a comment