General management

This category contains 109 posts

Seemingly impossible goals can change reality

It’s a constant bugbear of software teams that deadlines are often just wishes. “You need to deliver it by this date” can be largely the same as a manager donning a pair of ruby slippers, clicking their heals, screwing up their eyes, and saying “I wish, I wish, I wish for you to deliver by … Continue reading

Context has different perspectives

A short time ago I attended a talk by PaweĊ‚ Nowak on the subject of context. I was a bit perplexed before he started, after all context is an idea we tend to use frequently, and I’d never considered it much of puzzle. If you need to help me understand a situation you will explain … Continue reading

Leadership is a balancing act

I was speaking to a company CTO one time, when he commented that he had introduced OKRs (a way of focuing an organisation’s activity), but it hadn’t been easy. In fact, he said, he thought they had made every possible mistake along the way. This got me thinking about what this must have meant in … Continue reading

Don’t be a slave to the model

I was recently involved in a conversation with some colleagues, in which one of them was seeking to introduce to their own organisation “the Spotify model” [pdf] of organising teams. This a model that tackles the twin problems of teams needing to be cross-functional and to scale up the number of people. I’m always wary … Continue reading

An example of culture change through process change

Some time ago I was speaking to a former colleague, who had been part of a team introduced to new ways of working and who was also a very senior technical person within the company. The ways of working were new to him, as well as to the rest of the team. One key change … Continue reading

When it’s okay to use black and white thinking

I’ve previously said—frequently—that moving away from black and white, or binary, thinking is generally a very positive thing. I previously gave examples of this in predicting the future, subversion, elections, happiness and more. However, I have to admit that sometimes it is useful to drop things into clear categories. I might say things like, “That’s … Continue reading

Asking why builds better relationships

Previously I’ve said that digging into the reasons behind certain statements, and asking why, helps us understand problems better. But it’s also personally fulfilling and rewarding. I was reminded of this last week when I came across two stories in The Guardian. The first is an interview with James O’Brien, host of a radio phone-in … Continue reading

Ensure degrees of success

The other week I was on a train going across the country, and while it was stopped at a station the train manager made an announcement. “I realise this is unusual,” he said, “but we’re running ahead of schedule…” There was some laughter from the other passengers. But I was slightly surprised by what followed, … Continue reading

Divisions at the top create wider divisions further down

A little while ago I was discussing with a chief executive the key characteristics of being a great CTO. One of the qualities I mentioned—which I’d observed in many effective CTOs I’ve worked with—was a unity of purpose and communication with their peers, most notably the CEO. “Ah yes,” said the chief executive, “a division … Continue reading

Make good work visible

The other day I was at an Underground station where there were a number of charity collectors with buckets. I put a coin in a collector’s bucket and he gave me a bright yellow sticker in return. At first I was unsure about wanting it; it’s the kind of thing I’d have loved when I … Continue reading