Do organizations need fewer managers and more leaders? Do the qualities of one outweigh those of the other? In this article, Esther Derby defines leadership and management, and shows how one test manager incorporates both.
Staged integration versus continuous integration—which does your team prefer? Can't decide if one is better than the other? In this column, Johanna Rothman explains that you can create the perfect blend of the two. Developers and testers benefit from frequent builds, but be careful with how much you build. Build too much or too little and a project could topple.
Jim is mad at Hal. Sara is complaining to Jason. Hal feels hurt; Susan shows up late. Jason thinks only Sara and he have a clue. Is this team falling apart—or just experiencing a normal part of group development? In this column, Esther Derby describes what their team leader Jenny goes through as she learns about the predictable ups and downs of team formation and the one thing any team member can do to help.
Knowing how much work your group can accomplish—and how much it takes to complete that work—is critical to your success as a manager. Johanna Rothman explains how to ascertain your team's potential and how to use that information to define and manage your project portfolio so it doesn't manage you.
Software testers are typically grouped en masse in the world of information technology (IT). Many in the software testing profession, however, know that this should not be the case. In this column, Dion Johnson exposes the dichotomy in testing that has produced two distinct groups—software test engineers and software test executors—and why these groups are embroiled in a struggle to possess the crown as the industry's true software quality professionals.
Most managers realize that giving feedback is an important part of their job. But not all managers are skilled at providing feedback. Some make vague comparisons, mistakenly apply labels as feedback, and others just hint and hope you'll get the message. Esther Derby offers advice on how to probe for the information that will help you understand your manager's concerns when he doesn't state them clearly.
If your customer interview questions focus too narrowly on a problem that must be solved, you run the risk of missing information that could be critical to a successful outcome. In this column, Naomi Karten says playing detective improves your ability to gather information. To improve the odds of success, it's important to ask questions from multiple perspectives—and to pay attention not only to the customers' response, but to how they say it as well.
Drawing up a to-do list sounds like a logical starting point when you want to prioritize your workload. But if you have an extra-long list of tasks, the list you should start with is the not-to-do list. Doing so forces you to take an extra hard look at what you're doing and if you should be doing it. Learn more about Johanna Rothman's not-to-do list, how it helps you stay focused on the most important tasks, and how it inevitably helps you maintain your value to the organization.
When people work closely together, there's bound to be friction and irritations. Some people find it difficult to bring up these issues directly, so they hint and hope. And when the hint doesn't help, the irritation can grow out of proportion. Team members' ability to give peer-to-peer feedback both about work and interpersonal relationships is critical to developing a highly productive team. Esther Derby tells us about a team torn apart by an unattractive personal habit and offers some advice for talking about touchy interpersonal issues.
After reading Naomi Karten's StickyMinds.com article "Thinking Inside the Box," in which she mentioned an experiential exercise she had facilitated, numerous readers contacted her to learn more about conducting such exercises. In this column, Naomi Karten describes one of her favorite team exercises, with details on how to conduct it and what to expect when you do.