Visions - what are they and what to do with them

As you read my blog, I think everyone might be figuring out that I do a lot of reading and I like to highlight the things that I find most interesting. Mostly this writing is to help me synthesize my thoughts and to write down concepts I want to reference again later.  By posting them publicly, and sharing the blog posts openly, my hope is that others will gain something from it. Not only do I read a lot, I also listen to podcasts

One series of podcasts that I listen to is specific to leadership. While there are several very good podcasts, I like listening to Andy Stanley and his podcast,  Andy Stanley's Leadership Podcast. He has a perspective that is not unique but what I find to be very insightful. In a recently episode of his podcast, he talked with the former CEO of Home Depot, Frank Blake. In this episode they get into a deep conversation about visions of companies and what it means to the company and the employees.

A conversation with Frank Blake on Vision.

They did not get into what a vision is or how to create one, but rather, how to make a vision stick. how to get people to understand the vision and to make the vision the rallying call for the company. Andy has an entire book on how to create a vision, live the vision, and celebrate the vision. You can find his book, Making Vision Stick, on Amazon. I have not read the book yet, but if you do, please share your thoughts back here.

Becoming a more effective team

Best Friend
Photo by Eric Ziegler
Are you part of a team? I am guessing you might answer this question in the positive. Are you part of a great team? If not, why not? No matter how you answer that question, most likely your team become even more effective

3 Ways to Encourage Smarter Teamwork is great article from Harvard Business Review. The article shares 3 characteristics that that all individuals should embrace to ensure the entire team is more effective.
  • Active listening - pausing and listening to your peers and allow them to share their ideas and their perspectives. in addition, pausing to listen to understand, taking notes so you don't forget, etc. All good skills to embrace
  • Giving and receiving honest feedback - if you are going to truly collaborate with your peers, you need to be willing to share where you think their ideas are good and bad, and be open to receiving that feedback. And you know that idea of being "recognized" that often means getting a pat on the back or a thank you from a colleague, because recognition can come from anywhere.
  • Valuing team contributions, not stroking egos - you should be giving and serving your peers, on the team and in the community. if you do this, you will be recognized that you have influence and you will be seen as a leader.Remember my preivous post? you don't need to know all of the answers, and you should not expect others to have all of the answers. and if that is the case, then as a upstanding member of the community and the team, you should share and contirubte to the whole.

Leaders make mistakes - really

Photo by Eric Ziegler
3 Common Mistakes GOOD Leaders Make

Everyone makes mistakes. Managers, leaders, school teachers, police officers, clergy, etc. If you were to ask the question, what mistakes do you make, what would you say? In the blog post from "leader chat", they asked coaches and leaders, what mistakes do good leaders make. Based on the responses, they recognized three themes of mistakes. And the interesting part is that these are mistakes that anyone could make, not just a "leader" or not just a "manager".

What are the 3 most common misakes?
  • An over-focus on the people aspect and avoiding difficult conversations.
  • Trying to solve all of the problems of the people they work with or who work from them.
  • Neglecting your own personal growth - if you don't keep on growing you
While these on the surface might appear to be manager specific, they are not. These are great things to avoid if you are a leader or an aspiring leader. If you are not currently a manager but lead others and aspire to manage people, and if you avoid these pitfalls, you will end doing things that will enhance your ability to become the next great leader.

Successful Coaching Conversations

Bright Star at Sunset
Photo by Eric ziegler
Coaching is a technique to improve. You can improve in sports from good coaching. You can improve at school from good coaching (or teaching as they like to call it). You can improve at work from good coaching. And coaching can come from anyone. You can be coached by your kids. You can be coached by your peers. You can be coached by your manager or your managers manager. In fact, you can even coach others. Are you a developer? System Tester? BSA? Have you been asked to help others with their +1 skill? Have you helped others with their +1 skill? Then you are coaching.

For me, coaching is one of the most rewarding experiences. And for any person that is a coach or is being coached, there are some things you should keep in mind to ensure you each get the most out of the experience being shared. In this article, they highlight 12 things you should always do, and then some things you should avoid.

12 Secrets for Successful Coaching Conversations

For me, some of the items that struck a chord most include:
  • Relax. Lower defenses. Be your curious self.
  • Embrace silence. Don’t feel pressure to fill the silence. Wait a bit longer than feels comfortable. Allow coachees to fill the silence.
  • Develop next steps. Always identify next steps in behavioral terms. •What will you do? • How will you know you’re taking a next step? • How will colleagues know?
And then things to avoid:
  • Fixing and helping. Control your inner fixer. Successful coaches give responsibility and ownership. They don’t take it.
  • Interrupting.
  • Asking two questions at once (I do this one all the time, note to self, stop doing that)

Software Testing Club - go Join

Software Testing Club - Go Join
Photo by Eric Ziegler

Testing, Devops and Continuous delivery are all topics of interest for me as I have transitioned into a a software delivery role. How can we become more effective in how we deliver value to the clients, is a question you will very often hear me ask. So of course, because it is a topic of high interest to me, I have been keeping my eye for interesting content about these topics.

One great site that I found was the Software Testing Club website. In the site you can find a forums and some of the best blog posts about how to do testing well. You really do have to check out the blog posts on this site, they are pretty good.

Some of my favorites are:

If you are a tester or a developer or someone that interacts with building software, you should check this site on a regular basis. If you are so inclined, at to the community and share your insights about testing.