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Openness, Trust, and Healthy Paranoia

Trust must be earned in any relationship; it is not automatic nor can it be assumed. You only learn how much you can trust someone over a period of time. The same principle rings true in project management. In this week's column, Peter Clark shares a valuable lesson for project managers and other management professionals, demonstrating that a healthy level of paranoia must precede openness. If openness is premature, one's trust could prove to be unfounded in the end.

Peter Clark's picture Peter Clark
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
Paving Cow Paths

In the IT world, "paving cow paths" means automating a business process as is, without thinking too much about whether or not that process is effective or efficient. Often business process automation initiatives require figuring out entirely new ways of doing business processes–impossible prior to automation (for example, work flow automation and digital image processing)–defining more effective and efficient process highways. In this week's column, Jim Highsmith warns that when we pave the cow paths and ignore the highways, we do a disservice to our customers.

Jim Highsmith's picture Jim Highsmith
Free Time is Not Free

Unpaid overtime has negative personal and business consequences. Although regarded as free time by many organizations, there is a true business cost to not estimating or counting overtime hours, whether paid or not. Ed Weller presents the argument that those who do not count free time in their planning and tracking will make poor decisions and often invest in the wrong projects.

Ed Weller's picture Ed Weller
Ping-Pong Programming: Enhance Your TDD and Pair Programming Practices

Team player Dave Hoover wants to share a software development practice he enjoys. It emerged from the practices of extreme programming as a competitive yet simultaneously collaborative practice. Dave has found that this practice promotes the flow of knowledge between software developers better than any other practice he has experienced. As you might have guessed from the title of this week's column, this practice is called ping-pong programming, or P3 for short.

Dave Hoover's picture Dave Hoover
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
Automation or Not, It's All About the Data

While anyone who has automated her testing knows you can't create repeatable automated tests from unstable data, it did not dawn on this week's columnist—self-proclaimed automation lobbyist Linda Hayes—that this issue cripples manual testing as well. Read on to share her epiphany.

Linda Hayes's picture Linda Hayes
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
Estimating Testing Time

Testers are always facing a time crunch. As part of a recent assessment, a senior manager asked, "How long should the testing really take? It takes our testers from four, five, six, to thirty (insert your number of choice here) weeks, and we need it to take less time. Why can't it take less time, and how can we tell what's going on so we know how much testing we need?" In this column, Johanna Rothman answers with a timeline. By estimating how many testing cycles will be needed, plus how long each will take, she can map out the entire testing process. From this viewpoint, she is able to pinpoint where the process can be streamlined thus reducing the time spent testing.

Johanna Rothman's picture Johanna Rothman
Let Me Get Back to You

Sometimes the best thing that can be said during a confrontation is nothing at all. But if you're forced to respond, just promise that you'll get back to the situation at a better time. In this week's column, Peter Clark recalls a time when a competitor completely extinguished any chances of striking a business deal by letting his temper flare...in front of an audience during a teleconference call. From that incident, Peter learned to recognize when people are dangerously reaching their breaking points. No longer intimidated by temperamental barks, Peter explains how he keeps his cool during battle.

Peter Clark's picture Peter Clark

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