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Articles

Through the Eyes of a Troubled Customer

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.

Naomi Karten's picture Naomi Karten
When Enough is Not Enough

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.

Johanna Rothman's picture Johanna Rothman
Out of Mind, Out of Sight

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.

Esther Derby's picture Esther Derby
Becoming an Information-Gathering Skeptic

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.

Naomi Karten's picture Naomi Karten
The Secret Ingredients of High Morale

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.

Esther Derby's picture Esther Derby
Human Communication on Projects

Tackling communication issues at the start can set a project up for success. Staying alert to communication issues during a project means keeping the lines open, clear, accurate, and helpful. Then when the deadline approaches, the schedule slips, or serious problems start cropping up, issues can be confronted much more smoothly and efficiently. In this column, Eileen discusses how human communication affects projects from start to finish.

Eileen Strider's picture Eileen Strider
Creating Team Norms

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.

Naomi Karten's picture Naomi Karten
The Tyranny of the "To Do" List

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.

Elisabeth Hendrickson's picture Elisabeth Hendrickson
Always Assume Your Assumptions Are Wrong

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.

Naomi Karten's picture Naomi Karten
The ROTI Method for Gauging Meeting Effectiveness

When I visit software organizations, I often hear complaints that we spend too much time in meetings. Many people spend a significant portion of each day in meetings. Wouldn't it be great to give some of that time back?

Esther Derby's picture Esther Derby

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