Should I Speak Up?

Regular readers of Atomic Spin probably already know that Crucial Conversations is required reading for all new Atoms. The authors—Patterson, Grenny, Maxfield, McMillan, and Switzler—didn’t stop there, however. They’ve written several books, including the one I’ve been reading lately, Crucial Accountability.

While reading one of the earlier chapters, I was struck by four simple questions to determine whether or not you should speak up at work. Imagine the very plausible situation where a manager walks into a meeting and presents the “plan” that he or she developed in isolation and expects everyone to follow. You may have some reservations, but should you say anything? The following questions can help you decide.
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Four Lessons for Product Teams from Youth Sports

I’ve spent a lot of time in youth sports—not only as a parent of two boys aspiring for the big leagues, but also as a coach, and even a president of my local Little League. This experience has given me a unique view into what makes all teams—not just sports teams—successful. Whenever I consider the successful teams I was a part of, I always come back to four basic lessons.

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Manage Your Emotions by Disputing Them with REBT

People—including you—run on emotion. No matter how hard we try to approach situations with an open mind and an eye toward critical thinking, our feelings are always there coloring our views. Occasionally, very negative feelings can take over, and things are said or decisions are made that we later regret.

Fortunately for us, Albert Ellis introduced Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, or REBT, in 1952. The best way to think of REBT is as a technique for replacing unhealthy negative feelings for more healthy (though not necessarily positive) ones. Before you understand REBT, however, you need to understand the ABC Model.  Read more on Manage Your Emotions by Disputing Them with REBT…

Negotiating Your Project Management/Development Approach with Clients

During the sales process, it’s really easy to spend all of your time talking with clients about their software needs while ignoring questions of process. But so often it’s organizational differences that causes all of the headaches. Clients often lack the authority to make quick decisions, have competing priorities, or are blocked by IT policies. This can present real challenges and perhaps some unpleasant surprises for agile teams once development starts.

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5 Steps for Effective, Timely Decision Making

A big part of my job is making decisions. Some of those decisions are trivial, while others can heavily impact those around me. All of them, however, require varying degrees of my attention and time. And when I have a number of items demanding my time at once, it’s important that I give each decision no more time than it deserves.

Over the years, I’ve developed my own method of making decisions. Read more on 5 Steps for Effective, Timely Decision Making…

Does Empathy for Users Blind Us?

For years, the professional software community has agreed that empathy is a good thing. If you can be empathetic, you stand a better chance of creating the sort of software that your users will use and value. After all, once we’re in the head of our users, we should automatically understand exactly what it is that they need.

If only that were true. Read more on Does Empathy for Users Blind Us?…

Putting “Certainty” to the Test in Group Decisions

I came by an interesting article in the latest issue of Harvard Business Review: “How Certainty Transforms Persuasion.” The crux of the article is to explain how certainty—not accuracy or correctness—is used to persuade others to follow your way of thinking. The authors explain how certainty increases through the use of four levers: consensus, repetition, ease, and defense. Read more on Putting “Certainty” to the Test in Group Decisions…

Counting Cards Instead of Scoring User Stories

Over the years (and much to the delight of my customers) I’ve used story points to accurately predict when a project was going to hit its relevant milestones.

However, I’ve recently been noticing that my estimates deviated very little from user story to user story—and for good reason. The story cards tended to all be roughly the same level of complexity. Sure there were differences, but my boards were often comprised of stories predominantly of the same size.

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