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Part Introductions

by Gerald M. Weinberg

Adapted from Amplifying Your Effectiveness: Collected Essays. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved. See below for copyright notice.

Introduction to
Part I Empowering the Individual

  • The Role of Testing
    James Bach
  • A Brief History of the Accessibility of Computers by Blind People
    Kevin Fjelsted
  • Solving Other People's Problems
    Don Gray
  • The Perils of Parallel Projects
    Johanna Rothman
  • Do I Want to Take This Crunch Project?
    Sharon Marsh Roberts and Ken Roberts

Although "organizational change" is a comforting executive concept, Virginia Satir, the great family therapist, was fond of reminding us that "change happens one person at a time." There is no organizational change without individual change, no organizational effectiveness without individual effectiveness. That's why the first articles in this volume all address dimensions of individual empowerment.

For some, individual empowerment is a matter of overcoming disempowering factors—a good example is Kevin Fjelsted's description of the struggle by blind people to have decent access to computers. Another, more intimate, example, is the internal models that prevent us from understanding how broad our role can be, as exemplified by James Bach's evolution of ideas about his role as a tester.

Sometimes, we empower ourselves by the tools we use—physical tools, like Kevin's Braille readers, or mental tools, like Don Gray's problem solver's tool kit. Sometimes, we empower ourselves by setting priorities, so we can do the best we can, under the circumstances—like Johanna Rothman's principles for coping with multiple parallel tasks.

And, finally, we empower ourselves by staying out of situations that will disempower us, as Sharon and Ken Roberts describe in their article on how to recognize crunch projects, then either transform them or say "no thanks."

Introduction to
Part Two: Improving Interpersonal Interactions

  • Life as a Software Architect
    Bob King
  • Step One in Building Strong Business Relationships
    Naomi Karten
  • Congruent Interviewing by Audition
    Gerald M. Weinberg
  • Maneuvers to Disable a Team
    Becky Winant
  • How to Deal with Irate Customers
    Naomi Karten

A recurring dream of technical workers is to have the opportunity to work in perfect isolation. For better or worse, though, the vast majority of technical work puts us in relationships with other people. So, if we are to amplify our effectiveness, we must learn how to amplify the effectiveness of our interpersonal interactions.

The job of software architect is a perfect example. Though many of us perceive the architect as a solitary individual laboring in an ivory tower, Bob King disabuses us of that primitive notion with his article on how he measures the effectiveness of his architectural work. All of his measures, in the end, are measures of his effectiveness at working with others.

In her two articles, Naomi Karten shows us how to build strong working relationships and how to deal with relationships that are threatened by anger, using the example of dealing with irate customers. Becky Winant warns us of some tempting maneuvers that can destroy a team's working relationships and, in my piece, I suggest a way to start good relationships with new employees or team members by congruent interviewing.

Introduction to
Part Three: Mastering Projects

  • Ten Project Haiku
    Rick Brenner
  • It's Just the First Slip
    Johanna Rothman
  • Quality Begins at Home
    Brian Pioreck
  • Managing Your ERP: How to Avoid Common Pitfalls of Implementation
    Marie Benesh
  • Recognizing Runaway Projects
    Eileen Strider

Projects are team efforts aimed at bringing something new into the world, which makes them sensitive measures of our individual and team effectiveness. To paraphrase an ancient Chinese proverb, managing a large project is like boiling a small fish—a delicate job. Rick Brenner leads off this section with some small delicacies of his own: poetry that mirrors the sensitivity of projects with a delicacy of observation. Johanna Rothman then transforms some of Rick's haiku into more hearty fare-recognizing the significance of slips and gleaning information on how to master them.

Brian Pioreck neatly connects his personal effectiveness with the outcomes of the projects in which he participates, even when they're supposedly simple projects such as making a pancake breakfast. Marie Benesh scales up Brian's insights to teach us to recognize and manage some of the common pitfalls of gargantuan projects—ones that are more like banquets than breakfasts. To conclude the section, Eileen Strider shows us how to recognize and cope with projects that have eluded our mastery and become indigestible.

Introduction to
Part Four: Changing the Organization

  • The Satir Change Model
    Steven M. Smith
  • Modeling Organizational Change
    Esther Derby
  • How to Create a Process for Developing Useful Scientific Software
    Patricia Medvick
  • Good Practice Hunting
    James Bach

Once we have succeeded in demonstrating our effectiveness by successfully completing a project or two, our aspirations naturally turn to helping others do the same. But change is not the simple linear process that we might hope, as Steve Smith explains in his article about Virginia Satir's Change Model. To change an organization, we need tools to aid our systems thinking, and that's just what Esther Derby gives us in her article on modeling organizational change.

Pat Medvick shows us how several different routes can lead to the sort of organizational change needed to create a process for developing useful scientific software, and James Bach shows us how the search for better practices is not a mere intellectual exercise, but more of a real-life adventure.

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COPYRIGHT NOTICE: This excerpt from Amplifying Your Effectiveness: Collected Essays [ISBN:0-932633-47-1] appears by permission of Dorset House Publishing. Copyright © 2000 by Gerald M. Weinberg. All rights reserved. See http://www.dorsethouse.com/books/aye.html. The material contained in this file may be shared for noncommercial purposes only, nonexclusively, provided that this Copyright Notice always appears with it. This material may not be combined with advertisements, online or in print, without explicit permission from Dorset House Publishing. For copies of the printed book or for permissions, contact Dorset House Publishing, 1-800-342-6657, 212-620-4053, http://www.dorsethouse.com, info@dorsethouse.com, New: 3143 Broadway, Suite 2B, New York, NY 10027 USA. Additional rights limitations apply, as presented in the Legal Disclaimer posted at http://www.dorsethouse.com/legal.html.



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