Category Archives: Articles

What Is It You Want from Management?

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Disposable Programs

©2005 Gerald M. Weinberg We hear a lot these days about “reusable programs,” but we seldom hear about programs that shouldn’t be reused. Most programmers know what it’s like to be forced to reuse code that was supposed to be … Continue reading

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Getting To Know You: Using A Roundtable To Start An Event

©2005 – 2006 Adrian Segar  

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I Want It, I Have It, I Hate It

© Naomi Karten, www.nkarten.com (This article originally appeared in Perceptions & Realities newsletter, www.nkarten.com/newslet.html). The weather seems to have gotten colder as I’ve gotten older. As a result, the ski jacket that once kept me warm became too skimpy. Sensible … Continue reading

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Multiprojecting: The Illusion of Progress

©2005 Johanna Rothman This article was originally published on Stickyminds.com Your CIO has two projects he wants finished in the next month. “We can share this project manager and that test team on both of these high-priority projects,” he declares … Continue reading

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Project Pitfalls

©2000 James A. Ward, www.jamesaward.com Despite the best efforts of the project manager and the project team, organizational forces may work against project success, especially on projects with tight time constraints. This column normally deals with issues of applying Total … Continue reading

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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

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The Risk of Embellishment

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What’s on Your Not-To-Do List?

©2005 Johanna Rothman If you’re like most of my clients, you have too much to do. Recently, an Engineering Director, Stephanie, explained all the things she “had” to do: monitor the projects, participate in the requirements sessions, draw up a … Continue reading

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Don’t Tell Doreen

©2005 Steven M Smith Jarrett, Doreen and I were on the verge of a closing a big sale. We had crafted the Statement of Work (SOW) for two weeks and had finally reached the point where it satisfied both the … Continue reading

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Getting Ahead

©2005 Johanna Rothman. This article was previously published in Computerworld, April, 2005. I was talking to a relatively young developer the other day. I asked him about his career plans. “Oh, I don’t do career planning myself. I wait until … Continue reading

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Keep Your Eye on the Prize

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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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Purrfectly Obvious

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Seeing the Other Person’s Big Picture

©2000 Gerald M. Weinberg, www.geraldmweinberg.com You’re entering a new situation, and you’re ready to gather the Big Picture of the other people involved. Whatever you do, don’t try the following process without first getting a Big Picture of yourself, as … Continue reading

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An e-mail to Jerry Weinberg, Paul Coyle and others who may contemplate systems from time to time

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What’s So Special About Software?

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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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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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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

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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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My Company Won’t Pay! How To Get Approval To Attend Conferences or Training

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Put Confer Back in Conference

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Seeing Your Own Big Picture

©2000 Gerald M. Weinberg, www.geraldmweinberg.com The editor of Contract Professional chose the name for my column there, “The Big Picture.” He told me he chose the name “because you (Jerry) look at the business of contracting and consulting and the … 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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What’s Wrong With Wednesday?

2005 Johanna Rothman Many of the project schedules I review contain milestone completions on Fridays and new task or phase beginnings on Mondays. With a Friday or Monday milestone, what you’re really saying is that people can work overtime all … 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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Don’t Let The Bedbugs Bite

©2006 Fiona Charles Reprinted with permission from Software Quality Engineering and Fiona Charles. “Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite,” written for StickyMinds.com, is available in its entirety at stickyminds.com. My partner and I recently stayed at a wonderful little coastal hotel … Continue reading

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Getting Some Good Out Of Bad Interviewing

©2007 Jerry Weinberg Contract professionals, on the average, change jobs more often than employees, so they are involved in lots of interviews. One of our SHAPE forum threads was started by Pat Ferdinandi, an independent consultant, who complained: “I am … Continue reading

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The Liar’s Contest

In this game, the only way to win is to stop playing. (c)2004, 2005 Don Gray and Gerald M. Weinberg It may look like a crisis, but it’s only the end of an illusion. – Rhonda’s First Revelation The Setup … Continue reading

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My Days As a Barber

© 2000 Jim Batterson I shall take advantage of this opportunity to unburden myself on you with a little story. You know, before I was a programmer, I was a barber. One day I was sitting in my shop when … Continue reading

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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

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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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Trailblazer Programs: A Path for Successful Change

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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

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Confessions of a Confused User

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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

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Hang Loose

© 2005 Stuart Scott I believe a man should change his underwear at least three times a year. If you wear briefs, switch to boxers. If you wear white, try colors. Mix it up. Take a walk on the wild … Continue reading

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Lullaby Language

©2004, Gerald M. Weinberg, www.geraldmweinberg.com Late one summer, I was called in to help an IT client learn to work better with their customers. I don’t ordinarily travel in the summer, but this sounded like a real emergency, one where … Continue reading

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Not an Estimating Problem

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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

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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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Treaties to Deal with Communication and Conflict

©2002 Gerald M. Weinberg, www.geraldmweinberg.com On a typical day, I get 100-200 email messages, and some of my clients in large projects receive even more. Though emails improve my ability to communicate clearly and quickly, they may also prove a … Continue reading

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What to Do When Your Project Slips

©2001 Johanna Rothman, www.jrothman.com You’re not going to meet schedule. Maybe requirements have taken longer. Perhaps in the middle of implementation, you uncover something requiring redesign. Maybe developers haven’t met one milestone yet and you’re worried about the test time. … Continue reading

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Consulting Lessons From My Shiatsu Therapist

© 2000 Becky Winant Shiatsu is a type of bodywork that involves stretching and applying pressure at points to release or contain energy. Before he practiced Shiatsu, Ron had a career as an audio engineer — he understands technology and … Continue reading

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Driving from the Back Seat

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Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

©2001 Naomi Karten, www.nkarten.com It was a gray and gloomy day when we pulled into the ski area parking lot, and decided to sit a spell to see if the sun would shine. A carload of skiers pulled in next … 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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What’s On Your Not-to-do List

©2005 Johanna Rothman This article originally appeared on stickyminds.com. I’ll bet you’re one of those people who have too much to do. (I haven’t met anyone in the past few years who didn’t have too much to do, so it’s not … Continue reading

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Reasons

©2001 Gerald M. Weinberg, www.geraldmweinberg.com [Note: In September, 2000, at the SEI’s Software Engineering Symposium in Washington D. C., Jerry was the recipient of the 2000 Stevens Award. The award recipient is recognized for outstanding contributions to the literature or … Continue reading

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Some Barriers to Team Coordination and Collaboration

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Twenty Years Ago

©2000 Steven M. Smith I’m forty-five, with a mainframe background. I often hear complaints from colleagues — associates who are my contemporaries — that younger workers with experience in hot, new technologies are getting paid as much or more then … Continue reading

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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

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Convincing Management That Context Switching Is a Bad Idea

© 2005 Johanna Rothman (This article previously published in Better Software.) The last few times I’ve taught project management, I’ve explained that multi-project context switching wastes time. The project managers agree with me. But then they ask the question, “How … Continue reading

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Emerging

© 2001 David Irvine, www.davidirvine.com I recently had a conversation with one of my clients, a funeral director, who founded and owns a family business here in Canada. “It’s a strange thing,” he said to me. “Whether prostitutes or CEO’s, … Continue reading

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Hiring Testers

©2002 Johanna Rothman, www.jrothman.com This article originally appeared on stickyminds.com Summary: Whats the best way to wade through those thousands of resumes youve received for the new testing position? To start, you could ruthlessly weed out those who dont show … Continue reading

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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

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On Second Thought

© 2003 Dwayne Phillips, home.att.net/~dwayne.phillips I spend most of my professional life attempting to solve problems. I face some of these problems privately, but I face the rest with other people. Sometimes people working a problem will ask me for … Continue reading

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Rethinking Stand-Up Meetings

©2007 Steven M Smith Stand up meetings are popular in software development organizations now. What makes a stand-up meeting more effective than a traditional meeting to socialize status information? Nothing. The effectiveness of a stand-up meeting, like the traditional status … Continue reading

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So, Sue Me

©2007, Gerald M. Weinberg This morning’s news brings a story of a small manufacturer of add-on hardware suing large computer manufacturers for alleged illegal price-cutting. I was surprised. I thought the lawyers had finally learned the futility of suing hardware … Continue reading

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Two Left Feet

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You Can’t Test the Wings Back on an Airplane

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The Dismal Theorems of Contract Negotiation

©1999 Gerald M. Weinberg My friend Brad, a Los Angeles cop, mentioned that he regularly sold traffic tickets. “But it’s not what you think,” Brad smiled. “I work at night and go to school during the day. If I have … Continue reading

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Entomology

© 2003 Laurent Bossavit, www.bossavit.com Some words set alarm bells ringing in our heads whenever we hear them, because in the past we’ve repeatedly found them at the core of some problem or troubled situation. One of my alarm bell … Continue reading

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How 2 Buddy

©2004 Johanna Rothman www.jrothman.com Introduction If you’ve hired new people or transferred people into your group, you know that they’re not immediately productive when they start. If you’re lucky, they start to be useful in a month, but you most … Continue reading

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Our Management Process Can’t Tell us How to Get From "Repeatable" to "Defined"

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Overcoming Resistance

©2007 George Dinwiddie As a software development consultant and coach, I help software developers become more effective at developing software. Helping a team become more effective takes more than technical expertise. Sometimes helping does involve teaching technical skills. Sometimes, it … Continue reading

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Rethinking Stand-Up Meetings, Part 2

©2007 Steven M Smith I argued in my first article about stand-up meetings that the right participants were the key to a successful meeting rather than whether the participants were standing up or sitting down. Despite my dislike for forcing … Continue reading

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Spending As If There’s No Tomorrow

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Two Rights Make a Wrong

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Yielding to Pressure

©2005 Gerald M. Weinberg In a previous article, I wrote about the usefulness of treaties between technical teams, but I didn’t give much detail about the actual negotiation process that goes into making a successful treaty. To learn about such … Continue reading

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Creativity in Accounts Receivable

©2003 Gerald M. Weinberg, www.geraldmweinberg.com The introduction of the new $20 bill has me thinking about the Bureau of Printing and Engraving today. They’re one client I ever had who couldnt use the slow-payment excuse that they’re short of cash, … Continue reading

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Estimates: Precision vs. Accuracy

©2003 Johanna Rothman www.jrothman.com Jim, a new project manager, struggled to define the projects parameters: schedule estimate, people estimate, requirements outline, and necessary capital equipment. Jim proudly walked into his managers office, and proceeded to walk through his project plan … 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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Planning for Technical Management Time

©2005 Johanna Rothman I recently spoke with a manager who’d just incorporated another group of four people to his original three. “I was doing fine with my three people before I took over this group. I had time to manage, … Continue reading

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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

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Rewriting the Story of Resistance

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Staying Sharp

©2003 Gerald M. Weinberg, www.geraldmweinberg.com I’m not the kind of person who hangs out in nightclubs. In fact, the last nightclub I can remember visiting was in Miami Beach in 1957. What I remember about it is what the stand-up … Continue reading

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The Big Picture: Four Different Ways of Participating

©1999 Gerald M. Weinberg External consultants are seldom sent to classes by their customers, but often pay for their own professional development. As such, they’re eager to get full value for their time and tuition. Moreover, external consultants often find … Continue reading

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Amy the Architect

© 2002 Bob King, www.rc-king.com Can you get more than three people to agree on the definition of project architect? How does someone called architect figure out how to add value – or even what to do? Come along as … Continue reading

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Amplifying a Book’s Effectiveness

© 2000 Naomi Karten, www.nkarten.com Good Editing is far more than adjusting the punctuation. Over the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to experience expert editing, as I’ve worked closely with a Dorset House editor to finalize a book … Continue reading

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