As a manager in a technical field, I always have to deal with a great amount of uncertainty. Most questions cannot be answered with certainty: Will a technology still be relevant in 5 years? Which software architecture will fulfil future requirements? Which developer should we hire? Which project should get priority?
I’ve identified several patterns and algorithms to deal with this uncertainty and would like to present them here.
Continue reading “Dealing with uncertainty”
When you read a lot of books on success or watch a lot of videos about self-improvement and the like, like I do, you probably have heard about the “compound effect”. I don’t mean the book, I mean the phenomenon. It’s that positive results compound over time—like compound interest—and increase your success exponentially. Well, while this sounds appealing and might be true in theory, there are several reasons why it might not work out to make you “massively” successful, as the authors claim. Continue reading “Why your success is not “massive””
Some years ago I had a realization: There are people who play small and people who play big and I was a small game player. During my professional live I’ve worked hard on my skills, so it was not a skill problem. And I’ve always invested time in things that would pay off later, so it was no problem of urgent vs. important vs. significant. It was just that all the progress I made felt somewhat limited.
My thought process about big and small game started with a feeling. At the beginning there was no “concept”. But I started to continually reflect about whether the decisions that I were about to make where big or small game and then decided to go with the option that “felt” more like big game.
But of course after a lot of thinking, I’ve identified several key indicators to distinguish big game vs. small game thinking. Continue reading “Playing the Big Game”
I think getting used to being overwhelmed is a leadership skill. Several times a week a difficult situation occurs and in the first moment I don’t know what to do. It can be many things. Maybe there are too many open issues and too little time or there is a new and unexpected problem or an unfulfillable demand from a stakeholder.
What I have figured out, is that the feeling of being overwhelmed is simply that: a feeling. It has nothing to do with facts. It’s just the emotional impulse when something unexpected or overwhelming happens for which I don’t have a solution at hand. So as always: I use an algorithm for that. Continue reading “Being overwhelmed”
Dealing with negative feedback or criticism is one of the toughest challenges for people in the work place and rarely have I seen people that can handle it well. Most people get defensive, some get angry or discouraged and very few are grateful for the feedback they just received. So here are some things I do, to deal with criticism effectively. Continue reading “How to deal with criticism”
There is an excellent TED-Talk by Rory Vaden about how to multiply your time. In short it is about investing time today in a way that will save you time tomorrow. So it is about investing time for long-term results. I have always been a long-term thinker and have always acted accordingly. I always try to invest my time for long-term time-profits. It’s the same with money. You can spend money for immediate pleasure or you can invest it for future returns. And although I still think that investing time and money for a better future is a good approach, there are two problems with that. Continue reading “How to invest your time properly”
Being in a management position will always require a person to handle multiple things at once. Usually this is a source of stress. Of course there might be some difficulties with focus keeping and persistence, but after eliminating those as possible causes, there will still remain multiple issues that need to be managed. In my early years of being a manager, I compensated that with huge commitment, overtime and constantly being alert. There is an easier way though that I would like to share. Continue reading “How to manage many things at once without stress”
You’ve probably heard it all about software quality. From the ISO criteria to test driven development, code metrics and reviews to automated system tests. It all sounds nice and appealing, and it is all very suitable to incremental product development with scrum and well defined processes for an established product and with sufficient budget. When you are managing single individual projects though, there is always one ingredient that is missing in those explanations about how to reach good quality: It’s the project plan. Continue reading “Software Quality – The forgotten ingredient”
As Jim Collins pointed out in “Built To Last”, companies that want to be successful over a long period of time need to engineer their organization so that it consistently produces great results without the dependence on specific individuals. When I observe software developers operating in an organization, I often have the impression that they have a hard time contributing to this engineering process. This is an observation that is incomprehensible to me, because engineering an organization is like engineering a software program. Continue reading “Engineer Your Organization”
When I took over a software department several years ago and was suddenly confronted with the responsibility for a multi-million dollar budget for a really challenging project I was quite overwhelmed with the difficulty of the decisions I had to make. After lots of sleepless nights and feelings of sickness, I did what everybody would do: read 14 books about decision making. And it helped. After absorbing all that knowledge and applying and refining my decision skills over the years, I have found out, that there is a quite easy algorithm in making difficult decisions. It is an 8 step process. Continue reading “Difficult Decisions”