Panning for Gold in the Input Stream

Sorting through the chaotic mess of customer input streams is like panning for gold. Big rewards when you find a nugget, but a lot of hard work sifting through tons of obvious, repetitive, incremental suggestions.

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Managing the Unmanageable

I’ve had the great pleasure of reading an early copy of “Managing the Unmanageable: Rules, Tools and Insights for Managing Software People and Teams.”  Co-author Ron Lichty is a veteran Silicon Valley VP of Engineering, having done important work at Apple, Berkeley Systems, Schwab and Razorfish. I know Ron from his SVForum leadership and his “VPE of Fix-It” consulting. The book starts with the sociology and psychology of programmers, and why they are fundamentally hard to manage. Rather than caricature, it sorts programmers along many dimensions (client/server/database/web; architects/systems programmers/app builders; cowboys/farmers/heroes/introverts/cynics/jerks) to uncover team dynamics and motivational principles. Ron (and co-author Mickey Mantle) go to some length to separate programming from more manageable engineering disciplines: Programming as a serious profession…

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Asking for input: PM Directors and VPs


I’ve been thinking for a long time about challenges in running a product management group – that is, managing product managers rather than products. And blogging some about it. It’s time for me to tackle this in a more coherent way, through a linked series of organizational problem/solution sets that may turn into a full-on book. First step (true to our training) is to interview Directors/VPs of Product Management and dig into current issues, trends, solutions and organizational workarounds. If you manage tech product managers, I’m looking for 45-60 minutes of open-ended discussion and honest appraisals. Anonymized. In person if you’re in the Bay Area. The usual thank-yous apply: my deep gratitude, a book or two, a few free hours…

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