General management

This category contains 71 posts

Opening doors for positive people

The other day I bumped into a colleague whose responsibilities include something I often have to manage—encouraging people to change the way they work. She described her new team, including the familiar situation of having a number of people who were skeptical of any change, or who were otherwise reluctant to do so. But she … Continue reading

Good technical people need good non-technical skills

Very technical roles require very technical skills. Information security experts, software developers, architects and others all need specialist skills as a baseline. But in general those people (like so many others) don’t work alone, and it’s important that their work meshes with others. If we treat our staff like cogs in a machine then that … Continue reading

The black market in common sense

Last week I caught up with the enlightening Morten Elvang, who introduced me to a powerful metaphor: the black market in common sense. Morten describes this as a “shadow organisation”, an organisation within an organisation, populated by people who are working round the system in order to get their work done. Perhaps you’ve seen organisations … Continue reading

From visualising data to seeing the work

Visualising data is good, but then looking behind the visualisation is even better. This became apparent to me recently reading a fun piece of research by Justin Matejka and George Fitzmaurice: An effective (and often used) tool used to demonstrate that visualizing your data is in fact important is Anscome’s Quartet. Developed by F.J. Anscombe … Continue reading

When the leader doesn’t lead

Last week Donald Trump pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement. It’s a decision which was met with much horror, and condemned around the world. It’s likely to do lasting damage to our planet. I think it’s also likely to do economic damage to the US, as the market for renewable energy products … Continue reading

Teams and crews

One of the most entertaining sessions at last months’s Agile in the City: Birmingham was from Martin Burns, discussing teams in relation to performing music. And of all the points he made, the simplest and most compelling to me was the distinction between teams and crews. The dynamics of a team, he said, changed significantly … Continue reading

Why measure happiness?

Measurement might sound like it’s some kind of objective process, but that’s not always the case. Last week I asked the audience at Agile in the City: Birmingham to “Quantify Your Goals”. As part of that I showed how on one of the programmes at ONS we assessed progress against a goal simply by asking … Continue reading

Is this team the best it can be?

Recently I was part of a discussion on team improvement, and someone asked “How do you know if a team is the best it can be?” My first instinct was to ask why it matters, although I couldn’t think of way of doing so quickly and be sure I wasn’t sounding rude. However, that’s definitely … Continue reading

The reusable component is the team

I was talking to some colleagues once about how to help a team move on from their current product and focus in a new direction. The team’s latest development was well received, but they were having trouble leaving it behind—they wanted to continue working on it according to their earlier plan when other priorities said … Continue reading

Quality assurance and testing

Quality assurance and testing are often confused in the digital world. People often talk about QAs being the people who test, and debate the merits of whether QAs should exist as a role separate to that of developers. But prior to that I find it’s important to distinguish between quality assurance and testing, so here … Continue reading