Posts Tagged ‘Rands’

Magical Transformation

March 11, 2012 4 comments

In this interview of Scott Berkun by Michael “Rands In Repose” Lopp, “Rands In Repose: Interview: Scott Berkun“, Scott was asked about his former stint at Microsoft as a program manager. Specifically, Rands asked Scott what his definition of “program manager” is. Here is Scott’s answer:

It’s a glorified term for a project leader or team lead, the person on every squad of developers who makes the tough decisions, pushes hard for progress, and does anything they can to help the team move forward. At its peak in the 80s and 90s, this was a respected role of smart, hard driving and dedicated leaders who knew how to make things happen. As the company grew, there became too many of them and they’re often (but not always) seen now as annoying and bureaucratic.

Americans have a love affair with small businesses. But due to the SCOLs, CGHs, BUTTs, and BMs that ran companies like Enron, Tyco, and Lehman Bros, big businesses are untrusted and often reviled by the public. That’s because, when a company grows, its leaders often “magically” morph into self-serving, obstacle-erecting, and progress-inhibiting bureaucrats; often without even knowing that the transformation is taking place. D’oh! I hate when that happens.

Fly On The Wall

March 31, 2011 Leave a comment

Michael “Rands In Repose” Lopp has been one of my heroes for a long time. Here’s one reason why: rands tumbles – Friday Management Therapy. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall at that workshop, wouldn’t you?

BTW, does anyone know what the”Buzz Kills” attribute means? If you don’t know what I’m talkin’ bout, then you didn’t click on the link and read the list. Shame on you 🙂


August 27, 2010 2 comments

Michael Lopp is an engineer’s kind of manager. Besides having a great last name (can you say Lopp-sided?) and an even better pen name (“Rands In Repose“), the guy still understands and relates to down-in-the-trenches engineering work. He even drops an occasional F-bomb in his writing for dramatic effect. The dude is a rare bird and I pay attention to what he says.

Although I think the name of his latest book, “Being Geek“, is meh, there’s a lot of great stuff in there for both managers and DICs. Here’s a sampling of “culled” passages:

The story we tell ourselves when someone we like chooses to leave the group or the company is, “Everyone is replaceable.” This is true, but this is a rationalization designed to lessen the blow that, crap, someone we really like is leaving. We are losing part of the team. Professional damage is done when a team member leaves, and while they are eventually replaceable, productivity and morale take a hit.

A manager’s job is to forget. That’s what they do. They get promoted and begin the long processes of forgetting everything that got them promoted in the first place. I’m not joking. Manager amnesia will be the source of much professional consternation throughout your career.

My management strategy is to assume those closest to the problem can make the best decisions. That’s how I scale.

In defense of my brethren managers, we don’t forget everything, and during all that forgetting, we’re learning other useful things like organization politics, meeting etiquette, and the art of talking for 10 minutes without saying a thing.

The list of words that define management are revealing: direct, in charge, handle, control, and force. Looking at this list, it’s not a surprise that the term “management” has a distasteful Orwellian air.

If it’s been six months, you’ve been actively looking, and no one has told you a great story about how engineering shaped the fortunes of your company, there’s a chance that engineering doesn’t have a seat at the culture table in your company.

There’s the been-here-forever network, the I-survived-the-layoff people, and the untouchable did-something-great-once crew.

It pains me to write this, but my first question about your boss is this: is he taking the time to talk with you in a private setting? A 1:1 is a frequent, regularly scheduled meeting between you and your boss, and if it’s not happening, I, uh, don’t really know where to start. The absence of a 1:1 is the absence of mentorship, and that means your need to gather your experience in the trenches. And while there is nothing to replace “real-world experience,” I’m wondering what the value add of your boss is.

My impression is that the presence of status reports is an indication that your boss doesn’t trust the flow of information in your organization.

We’re knowledge workers, which is an awkwardly lame way of stating that we don’t actually build physical things with our hands.

Asking for the impossible is an advanced management technique, and it’s one that is particularly abhorrent to engineers. Frequent impossible requests result in an erosion of respect and a decaying of credibility.

You’re not going to engage if you don’t respect the person who is asking you to do something.

Management by crisis is exhilarating, but it values velocity over completeness; it sacrifices creativity for the illusion of progress.

Everyone is an adjustment. When you’re interacting with anyone, you leave the core you and become slightly them.

Categories: management Tags: , , ,
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