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General

My clients were jerks

Tell me if this story sounds familiar… It’s 11:45 pm and my wife went to bed an hour ago.  I’m sitting on the couch, hunched over my laptop, working to deliver a client’s project for a demo tomorrow.  Five hours ago when I started, I reassured my wife “We’re really close.  Just a few tweaks from…

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Fred Brooks was right

“There is no single development, in either technology or management technique, which by itself promises even one order of magnitude improvement within a decade in productivity, in reliability, in simplicity.” Fred Brooks, 1986. (Emphasis is my own.) In an industry that moves as fast as ours does, that’s a startling statement.  We are bombarded by processes,…

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The #1 pricing mistake you must avoid

Robbie writes in, “Marcus, my client’s budget is too small for us to do what’s needed for them.  Just this week I took on a client with a $2,500/mo marketing budget, but I already know that I’ll be giving away time to get the results they want.  In the end, I don’t really make money, but…

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Might as well own it

There’s no way to sugar coat it: I’m a poor marketer. If you’re like most coders, you probably are too. See, I want to believe in the philosophy, “Build it, and they will come.” I want to believe the best ideas always win.  That if you built a great product or service, it would “sell itself.” Yeah……

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Obstacles -> Assets

You must help your team turn obstacles into assets. That means helping them to see their problems, impediments, blockers, and hurdles as learning opportunities. Sound crazy?  Here are a few examples… 1. Are new requirements derailing a project deadline?  Maybe there’s a learning opportunity around incremental releases.  Or about estimating with ranges.  Or about change orders.…

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How could that possibly be fun?

Last week in our Tech Leader Mentoring Group we discussed our team’s underperforming activities.  All teams have them (because no individual or team is perfect), yet we don’t often stop and look for them.  This week we did, and we came up with some great ones, including estimation points, team retrospectives, and one-on-one meetings. Now let me clarify: these…

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“I’ve always known it wouldn’t work out.”

Hello, my name is Marcus Blankenship, and I’m a wallower. And not just an amateur one.  I’m a professional, Level 80, Grand Master-Poobah wallower.  I’m capable of wallowing and worrying in any situation. Even when things are going well, I’m secretly waiting for it all to come crashing down.  And when things aren’t going well,…

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Timex or Rolex?

From ten feet away I can’t tell if someone is wearing a Timex, Omega or Rolex. Since all three keep perfect time, are waterproof to 100m, and look so similar why would someone spend $9,000 instead of $90 on a timepiece? As you have guessed, spending $9,000 on a watch says something significant about the buyers status,…

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What did you learn today?

Today by the campfire I thunk a thought to share with you. If a simulation teaches something about real life, how much more does real life teach? (Profound, huh?!? <grin>) Put another way: if people can learn so much from a simulation why can’t they learn the same lessons from real life? Of course, they can.…

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A crazy idea she had at the campfire.

As I mentioned, I’m camping on the Oregon coast this week.  Locked in our 25′ travel trailer, working from tethered iPhone wifi, Amy and I have gotten a touch of cabin fever.  We’ve been talking a lot about what we learned leading the Technology Leadership simulation, and how we can take this show on the road…

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What surprised me the most from the simulation.

I’ll keep this brief.  The most surprising part of last week’s leadership training simulation was when someone asked me: Are you really a clueless manager, or are you playing a role? My dirty-little-secret?  I wish I could say it was all an act, but it wasn’t.   That night in the hotel I reflected on the…

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“Dude, crank it to the left!”

I’m on “vacation” this week, which means I’m writing you from a trailer on the Oregon coast.  I was backing my travel trailer into the campsite when a voice boomed from the bushes: “Dude, crank it to the left!” This 6′ 4″ guy with a buzz-cut emerges from the bushes and starts barking orders at…

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“Thanks for coming in on-time, Todd.”

I was chatting with my general contractor, and the subject of offering feedback to team members came up.  See if this sounds familiar. He said, “I get soooooo sick of nagging them to do things right, I feel like I’m constantly complaining.  I want to be a good boss, so now instead of complaining about…

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The repeating lesson from my #Velocity2017 training

Last week my wife, Amy, and I ran fifteen technical leaders through two days of leadership simulations, evoking laughter, conflict and even a few tears.  The situations may have been fake, but the emotions were real. In fact, the simulation was so real that people started cheating.  In fact, one participant cornered me in the hallway and…

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