Think working on five projects at once will make great results appear like magic? Don't be so sure. The price your team pays by switching from one project to another could make your productivity disappear. Johanna Rothman reveals the smoke and mirrors behind the illusion of multiprojecting.
"We want the software to be faster, better, cheaper!" the marketing guy declares. We want to deliver, but if we aren't positive what those adjectives mean, we will fail. Read on to learn how a road trip prompted industry veteran Esther Derby to revisit how to avoid the expectations gap.
Have you ever had to cope with a demanding developer? A touchy tester? A quarrelsome QA person? A cantankerous customer? Why oh why do people act that way? This column describes the route one IT group took to reverse a customer's bad attitude and make her a valuable ally.
Have you ever found yourself stuck in a situation where, no matter what you do, you can't seem to please your senior manager? Your manager wants you to decrease test time, but at what price? You go back and forth, but no matter how much you compress the schedule, it's never enough. Johanna Rothman explains how to avoid the bring-me-a-rock trap, when enough is not enough, and keep your team from being sucked into unreasonable time constraints.
Sometimes it takes a child's perspective to remind us of the things that have become "invisible" to us. We make choices that become part of the daily flow and are forgotten until something happens that reopens our eyes. This week, Esther Derby explains how a four-year-old reminded her of an important lesson about decisions and routines.
Customers don't always know what they want. That's a given. But even if they do know, they may not always be able to communicate it clearly. That's also a given. Given these givens, you have a much better chance of comprehending your customers' needs and concerns if you're a skilled information-gathering skeptic.
Jessica and Sean have just attended the company spirit meeting, and they're feeling a little dispirited. What does it really take to build morale? The answer is both simple and difficult. Learn the ingredients of morale as identified by a group of experts—a project team that may be a lot like yours.
In their eagerness to embark on a new project, project teams sometimes overlook an essential aspect of their effort—building a relationship among team members, which will foster not just a successful project outcome, but also a satisfying work experience. Investing in relationship building is invariably less costly and time-consuming than recovering from the divisiveness and conflict that may result from its absence. And that's where team norms come in.
We create lists to help us prioritize tasks and stay on schedule. Sometimes those lists help us accomplish those tasks faster. Sometimes those lists simply chain us to an archaic way of doing things. Having a "To Do" list is a good thing if you don't let it prevent you from thinking outside the box. In this column, Elisabeth explains why the agenda items that don't make the list can often be some of the most important.
A potentially serious impediment to success in software projects is false assumptions. Both yours and everyone else's. If you act on false assumptions as though they're true, such as by assuming you understand exactly what your customers want, you may find yourself faced with flawed software and failed projects. In this column, Karten explores false, conflicting, and hidden assumptions, and how you can "surface" them.