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Articles

Information Gathering

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.

Naomi Karten's picture Naomi Karten
What's on Your Not-to-Do List?

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.

Johanna Rothman's picture Johanna Rothman
Peer-to-Peer Feedback

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.

Esther Derby's picture Esther Derby
A Mind-Changing Exercise

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.

Naomi Karten's picture Naomi Karten
Mistaken Interpretation

Our brains are wonderful processors capable of making sense of the huge amount of sensory input we receive every day. But sometimes, our first interpretation of sensory data can lead us astray. Esther Derby shows us how assuming our interpretation of events holds the truth of the matter can damage relationships, and how testing our interpretations can help.

Esther Derby's picture Esther Derby
Customer-Focused Verbs

When building successful relationships with your customers, certain verbs such as "to respond," "to listen," and "to involve" are important and should be used. But this column is about another common place verb that's not at all customer focused: "to get." Naomi doesn't mean "to get a 50% raise for completing the project on time" or "to get a week off for creating a brilliant test plan." No, she means, "to get customers to do things your way." Learn how simple verb replacement therapy can help you build better relationships with the customer.

Naomi Karten's picture Naomi Karten
Detecting Great Testers before the In-Person Interview

Resumes only tell a portion of a candidate's story just like caller ID doesn't always reveal the caller's complete identity. Screening candidates over the phone can help extract more of the person's story if you ask the right questions. In this column, Johanna Rothman shares phone-screening techniques she uses to detect great potential testers. This process of elimination saves her valuable time and ensures only qualified candidates make it to the in-person interview.

Johanna Rothman's picture Johanna Rothman
Keeping Secrets

Test data has long been a challenge for testing; privacy legislation, identify theft, and the continued trend towards outsourcing has made it even worse. Just establishing and maintaining a comprehensive test environment can take half or more of all testing time and effort. In this column, Linda Hayes adds in the new and expanding privacy laws that inevitably limit your testing options. Yet from the quagmire of laws and company standards, better testing can emerge.

Linda Hayes's picture Linda Hayes
Thinking Inside the Box

The problem with urging outside-the-box thinking is that many of us do a less-than-stellar job of thinking inside the box. We often fail to realize the options and opportunities that are blatantly visible inside the box that could dramatically improve our chances of success. In this column, Naomi Karten points out how we fall victim to familiar traps, such as doing things the same old (ineffective) way or discounting colleague and teammate ideas. Thinking outside of the box can generate innovative and ingenious ideas and outcomes, but the results will flop when teammates ignore the ideas inside the box.

Naomi Karten's picture Naomi Karten
Talk Talk Talk

Managers need to talk about goals, strategy, and mission. Managers need to talk about how daily work keeps the business humming. Esther writes about how important it is for managers to also ask questions and listen.

Esther Derby's picture Esther Derby

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