e-Talk Radio: Derby, Esther, 4 January 2001

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of perpetuates the system. The whole notion of that article was saying that in an organization you're dealing with a system with many interdependent variables and you need to kind of get a sense of what those are so you can choose an intervention that is actually going to help the situation move the system in the direction you want it to go in. What we were talking about in that article was implementing change control so that there was actually a process that people could follow to make decisions based on risk and benefit about what changes would be implemented.

Carol Dekkers: And that particular article, for our listeners that are interested, was in the November/December 1999 STQE magazine and they can access the archives I believe on StickyMinds.com, isn't that true Esther?

Esther Derby: I believe it's out there, yeah.

Carol Dekkers: So it's November/December 1999 and the article itself was called, I'll just pull it up, "Modeling Organizational Change."

Esther Derby: It's about some simple modeling techniques and risk consciousness to help managers make decisions and design effective management intervention around some problems that people typically have in software innovation.

Carol Dekkers: And it's a very insightful article. It's got some new ideas that don't seem to say it would take a whole lot of money, it would take a huge shift, it's just things that people can do, given the resources they already have.

Esther Derby: Right.

Carol Dekkers: Great. Caller, did you have anything else you'd like to say?

Caller: No, I appreciate the thought and thank you very much.

Carol & Esther: Thank you very much for calling.

Carol Dekkers: Esther, we were talking a little bit about how people are doing the best jobs that they can, and I know you wanted to say a little bit more on that area.

Esther Derby: Yes, my sense was that the caller was in a difficult situation and I personally try really hard to stand in that space that says everyone is doing the best that they can given the situation and everyone is trying to be helpful even though it may not look that way. And I find that when I'm in that stance I am much more able to influence change and that it's really difficult to influence someone who you've written off.

Carol Dekkers: Right, I think that's a very good point, I'm glad to notice you brought that up. I think the other thing that sometimes happens is, I don't know where it stems from, I think that you may be right, that it may stem from school and our culture, but I've seen where if the times get tough, it's the interpersonal skills training, it's the management training, it's that type of thing that's the first thing to get cut, and you know the Java programming training that continues on, even the testing if a developing project gets left behind or gets way out of whack in terms of schedule, testing's the first thing always cut, and it seems like, I don't have the answer but I just think it's something that important, that sometimes the things that are most important in the long run are the first things to be cut.

Esther Derby: You know, that's interesting. Johanna Rothman recently had a piece in "Sticky" about, you know, the position of the test manager, where you're kind of at the end of the line and you don't have enough staff and you don't have enough time and kind of the attitude you can take to shift that, and position

About the author

Esther Derby's picture Esther Derby

A regular StickyMinds.com and Better Software magazine contributor, Esther Derby is one of the rare breed of consultants who blends the technical issues and managerial issues with the people-side issues. She is well known for helping teams grow to new levels of productivity. Project retrospectives and project assessments are two of Esther's key practices that serve as effective tools to start a team's transformation. Recognized as one of the world's leaders in retrospective facilitation, she often receives requests asking her to work with struggling teams. Esther is one of the founders of the AYE Conference. She co-author of Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great. She has presented at STAREAST, STARWEST and the Better Software Conference & EXPO. You can read more of Esther's musings on the wonderful world of software at www.estherderby.com and on her weblog at www.estherderby.com/weblog/blogger.html. Her email is derby@estherderby.com.

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