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30s to better problem solving

How you frame a problem can make all the difference in how you solve it. Let me illustrate so you can watch for this today at work. The drama I watched the other team work. Twelve people had 15 minutes to draw a map of the USA with the 50 states, and label the state…

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Lean in with your ears

We were trying to solve a problem, but we’re going in circles – generating ideas faster than we could consider them. It was like twelve people playing a game of chess. Some people retracted into the shadows; others advanced into the light. Alliances formed around ideas, advancing them and then defending them. Many times I…

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Re-entry is the hard part

I just returned from attending the greatest technical leadership training on the planet, which has been running for over 40 years. It’s over five days of experiential training led by two amazing masters of technical leadership and human systems. (FYI – This is not a sponsored post, just my humble opinions.) So, now my mind…

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Learning through everyday situations

Long-time friend, Sam, wrote me an important lesson he realized when thinking sbout how I look for coffee. Sam wrote: One big danger I see in the approach is to scan like this, you have to: 1) be a real expert for coffee and 2) know very exactly what you want. This can be good…

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The one in which Jim points out a coffee shop lesson

Long-time reader Jim was reading yesterday’s email about baristas from the #1 rated coffee shop in America and pointed out an interesting idea: “One thing I’ll add is that the best shops are often rigid or uncompromising about something that ends up being inconvenient for customers.” I also found many practices of great coffee shops…

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Hiring lessons from barista shopping

In my workshop’s I teach people how to spot and capture lessons from everyday situations.  Below is an example of that sort of thinking. =============== I travel about a fair bit. When I arrive in a new place, I always look for where to get a good cup of coffee. (BTW, I could use some…

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Your choice: go big, or get real

I’ve been a jittery, nervous wreck for a week because of the workshop which starts on Wednesday. It reminds me of singing a solo in a Junior High musical – I’m terrified that I’ll forget the words, look like an idiot… or pee my pants on stage. Yeah – you get it: I’m nervous. I…

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The painful truth I need to admit to you

Most people feel the leader’s #1 job is to get people to follow them. After all, they might think, a leader without followers is… just a dude (or dudette) standing out in a field, all alone. Thus, most leadership ideas relate to the acquisition and use of power, influence, and manipulation. At one extreme you…

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Four interview mistakes (and what to do instead)

I’ve been helping a client hire Engineering Managers the past few months, so interviewing (on both sides of the table) is on my mind. Here are four mistakes to avoid when interviewing for a job. Oh, and if you’re the one conducting interviews, ask yourself how you feel when people do these things. Mistake 1:…

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This space intentionally left blank

I didn’t write to you yesterday because I had nothing interesting to say. As a young Team Lead, I would not have done this. Back then I believed that saying something was always better than saying nothing. Even when I had no specific ideas to contribute, I would open my mouth and fill the void…

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The Insane Beast

The Beast roamed the office hallways; always seeing, always watching, always devouring. My first encounter with the Beast took place a few months after I joined the company. I didn’t recognize it immediately, due to my youth and inexperience. This was, after all, my first job as a programmer. One Tuesday I needed to leave…

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A slightly silly history of leading programmers – Part 2

Computer, enter stage left… (Miss part 1?  Read it here.) When computers made their debut, the mathematicians were called in to handle these complex machines. But soon enough the mathematicians became bored and went back to doing whatever mathematicians do, leaving the computers to be dealt with by the electrical engineers. It didn’t take long…

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