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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“What If Dev Doesn’t Think Product Mgmt Represents Customers?”

Recently, I put up a small assessment tool for product management teams.  This tool is intended to generate discussion and highlight areas for team improvement.  Several PMs had follow-up comments and questions along the lines of “what should we do if we’re scored ourselves poorly on a specific item?” There are no generic prescriptions for improvement, especially in product management.  It’s worth drilling into an individual item or two, though, and imagining how we might analyze the situation and take corrective action. 

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Review: “Adapting Configuration Management for Agile Teams”

Short review of Mario Moriera’s new book, “Adapting Configuration Management for Agile Teams.”  Mario structures a strong case that good Configuration Management (CM) is a strong enabler and requirement for highly productive Agile development teams.  In particular, he counters the oft-repeated (but untrue) assertion that Agile teams don’t need process, structure, tools or architecture to succeed.  To the contrary, thoughtful and planful application of CM principles is important to professional Agile software teams.

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