e-Talk Radio: Rothman, Johanna, 11 September 2001

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So again… And the stock goes down whether it's good news or bad news, that is completely irrelevant. But the problem is that if your stock is likely to go down because you don't make a ship date, would it be better to ship something and immediately send out a patch release? Or would it be better to wait and have your stock go down? I don't know of a senior executive who's ready to have a stock price go down. I just don't know.

Carol: And it certainly doesn't sound like that is something that we in development are paid to do.

Johanna: We are certainly not paid to do. In fact, we don't even know what the possible consequences are. That's why it's so important, when you take on your personal mission, to understand what are the consequences of me taking this personal mission on? Is it appropriate for me to make these decisions for my company, or am I going to have any way, shape, or form of getting this information that I need to make this decision? And if I can't get the information to make the decision, why should I stand in the way of my company making these decisions? So especially for ship dates, especially for product direction, I don't think it's appropriate for technical staff, and probably not even for middle managers, to be making enough of those decisions by themselves.

Carol: And I know we're just about out of time. It's been great to talk to Johanna Rothman. We've talked about "What is it they really pay you to do?" I think that's been a challenge for people in quality assurance, it's a challenge for people in any walk of life, in any one of your jobs. If you don't have a job description, or you have a job description that is a mismatch with what the organization really wants you to do. And I'd like to thank you, Johanna, for spending this last hour with us and sharing your wisdom and your insights.

Johanna: Thank you. I've really enjoyed it.

Carol: I'd also like to spend a couple minutes just talking about your new book. I'm intrigued, I didn't know that you had a book coming out, and I'm dying to know, in the book, whether you're going to have the worst possible job descriptions you've ever come across.

Johanna: No, I actually wasn't going to. I was afraid people would use the "worst possible job descriptions." But I will have sample job descriptions, and a lot of interview questions. I find a lot of people don't know… They don't know how to interview potential candidates. And of course, candidates can use this book also. If you're looking for a job and you want to know, what kind of a manager am I interviewing here, you can ask them the same kinds of questions. So it should be useful on both sides.

Carol: What is the title of your book?

Johanna: The working title is Hiring Technical People. It's about how do you prepare for hiring people. What's your strategy for bringing people into the organization? Do you need a certain kind of person? Will any developer do? And the answer is, of course not. Not any developer or any tester will do. But how do you know what kinds of people you need and when? And then it walks you through how do you set up… how do you actually write a job description? Writing ads, all that stuff.

Carol: And we'll be back to finish up with Johanna Rothman

About the author

Johanna Rothman's picture Johanna Rothman

Johanna Rothman, known as the “Pragmatic Manager,” helps organizational leaders see problems and risks in their product development. She helps them recognize potential “gotchas,” seize opportunities, and remove impediments. Johanna was the Agile 2009 conference chair. She is the technical editor for Agile Connection and the author of these books:

  • Manage Your Job Search
  • Hiring Geeks That Fit
  • Manage Your Project Portfolio: Increase Your Capacity and Finish More Projects
  • The 2008 Jolt Productivity award-winning Manage It! Your Guide to Modern, Pragmatic Project Management
  • Behind Closed Doors: Secrets of Great Management
  • Hiring the Best Knowledge Workers, Techies & Nerds: The Secrets and Science of Hiring Technical People

Johanna is working on a book about agile program management. She writes columns for Stickyminds.com and projectmanagementcom and blogs on her website, jrothman.com, as well on createadaptablelife.com.

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