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No naughty or nice with nuts

PRE-S: Early bird pricing for the 4th cohort of Software Leader Seminar ends tomorrow. Apply today to lock in the early-bird price. One of my favorite snacks is a bowl of mixed nuts. It reminds me of software teams. The bowl is a container, holding them all together. All the nuts are in the bowl…

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Improvisational sketch leadership

The phrase “live workshop” contains two concepts. Most of us focus on the “workshop” part – reading the topics and activities to ensure it teaches what we want to learn. This engages our analytical brain which asks “what will I get out of this?” But it’s easy to overlook the importance of the “live” part,…

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Designing problems is harder than it looks…

“Today you’re going to learn lessons about delegation, communication, observation, and team alignment. More importantly, you’ll learn about yourself and the impact you have on those around you. You’ll receive the instructions once you’re in your learning groups.” The small learning groups move to their zoom videoconference rooms, where they receive their instructions. “It is…

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An audiobook, a workshop, and slack – oh my!

I’ve got a few updates for you, my fellow ruckus makers in tech. First, I’m excited to announce a 100% complete revamp of Software Leader Seminar into a hands-on, on-line workshop. No videos, no forums, no BS. This is unlike anything I’ve seen or done and is similar to my in-person workshops. It’s five weeks…

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Buy your toothpaste when you get there

When you’re heading into a new situation, it’s easy to overpack. The first time I went to Europe I packed my favorite heavy, long-sleeved flannel shirt, even though the trip was in the middle of summer. When I started a new coding project, I’d download a whole bunch of libraries just in case. When I…

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The leader’s blind-spot

Manager, leaders, and consultants all suffer from the same blind spot. We may recommend others do things which we’ve not done ourselves. This may make us blind to how difficult something actually is. For example, in the past, I’ve recommended that new people keep an ‘onboarding journal’ for the first month at the company. Now…

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Building good relationships are the key to everything you want

When it comes to building high-performing teams, your relationship with your developers is more important than their technical skills. While technical skills are important, strong developer–manager relationships are the keys to everything you want. Healthy relationships among employees and leaders produce high levels of engagement, motivation, trust, and transparency. These relational attributes are the foundation…

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It’s impossible to keep your balance

[SPONSOR] – Effortlessly manage your engineering team with Humble Dot. I crave certainty. I want certainty about project outcomes, spending decisions, and even travel plans. Somewhere I learned that idea that if I make right decisions, and try hard enough, then I’ll get good outcomes. Oh, I’ve had some failures. A project didn’t come in…

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My mistaken motivation mindset

The people on your team are motivated. But they are not motivated by the same thing. One programmer might be motivated by “cutting-edge technology.” Another by “software quality”, and a third by “system scalability.” These fall under the motivational factor Fredrick Herzberg termed, “the work itself.” Your motivation You are also motivated, but maybe not by…

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Does the “point velocity” of a scrum team matter?

I find myself subtly drawn to binary questions, though I wish I weren’t. Binary questions have yes/no answers. They ask people to line up on one side or another. They polarize, draw lines, and take sides. They create stability around an issue, which works against agility. The split us into groups of believers and non-believers…

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Quantum Onboarding

“Wholeness is what is real, and that fragmentation is the response of this whole to man’s action, guided by illusory perception, which is shaped by fragmentary thought.” – David Bohm, Wholeness and the Implicit order Renowned Quantum Physicist David Bohm wrote of the interconnectedness of everything.  That fragments are not part of the natural order,…

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”What is everyone working on?”

When you’ve got a team of smart people, it’s easy for everyone to go in different directions. That’s the power of brilliant engineers, but it’s also a challenge for tech leaders. Combine smart people with remote locations, spread across many timezones, collaborating through different systems, and you’ve got a recipe for manager stress. That’s why…

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Systems always seek their real goal

The system will seek its goal above all else, even if it’s not actually what you want. Even if it’s not what anyone wants. If you want to improve education, and set a goal of 20% more dollars spent per student, then the education system will spend 20% more dollars per student. But that does…

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Stepping in without Stepping in it

When things go wrong, you might have to step in. I did this most often when failure was going to be a BigProblem. And things often improved. The project got back on track, the client didn’t fire us, or we hit the big deadline. As you might expect, this made me feel pretty darn good.…

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The surprising effect of traffic and bathrooms

“Sorry I’m late, traffic was nuts,” Sean said as he ducked into your team meeting. Irritated, you look up and nod, continuing with the department update. “Sheesh, he so unmotivated, he doesn’t even care.” you think. Finishing the meeting, you stop for a bio-break on the way to your bosses all-hands meeting, and find it’s…

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