Thursday, December 04, 2008

Leadership by the Book

I ran across this online article in Federal Computing Week. It's an interview with Dave Wennergren, deputy chief information officer of the Defense Department. It struck a chord with me because I'm such a believer in reading as a form of personal development and skill building.

It's not how much you read, but what you read and how you apply it. You could read a book in one day and get nothing from it, or you could read a page a day and get a nugget of wisdom each day.

Unfortunately, too few IT professionals read books or articles about our profession. Testers are no exception. When I meet people in IT or not, I can normally tell within 10 minutes if they read very much.

For the price and payback, books are a great value. A $50 book can well contain thousands of dollars worth of valuable ideas and advice.

When faced with a problem, I usually ask myself, "Who can I ask?", or "What can I read?" to get a solution.

Here's a great quote from this article:

"
When I was the Department of the Navy CIO, I started a leadership forum called Expanding Boundaries, which I have now continued in my DOD job as Expanding Horizons. The idea is to get the leadership team together once every couple of months, read a good book and then discuss how we could apply the book, to our work and our lives. It’s been a great way to understand the art of the possible and best practices, but even more importantly, it has helped to align the leadership team, improve trust and serve an idea creation engine as we strategize about next steps in our information transformation work."

One challenge that teams have is to communicate together well. This would be a good venue to help break that ice.

So, here's the assignment. Read this article, then let me know your thoughts.

Thanks,

Randy

6 comments:

Philk said...

As a total bookworm I liked the article - and your blog post as well

I really liked the idea in the article about doing a book review and working out HOW to apply ideas from the book - so even if you have people that maybe aren't too keen on reading books you can share the ideas with them and still get feedback

Thanks for sparking off some ideas

Randy Rice said...

Hi Phil,

Thanks! I also often encourage test teams to pick a book (Hmmm...one comes to mind - something about Surviving the Top Ten Challeges...) and discuss each week how to apply some of the concepts. It really is one of the most powerful and cost-effective ways to build skills. And right, even those that don't like to read all that much can still gain and even perhaps be motivated to read.

Thanks for your comment, Phil.

Randy

Philk said...

That's a good book and one I happen to have in my collection :)

Future blog idea for you - how relevant are those Top 10 Challenges today 11 years on - are the Top 10 still the same or would you change this list now ?

Randy Rice said...

Hi Phil,

Thanks for getting my book!

That's a very good question and a good idea for an upcoming blog post - thanks!

Actually, it will be easy for me to list the "new top ten" since we have recently completed and submitted our changes for the second edition of the book. It's been long overdue.

I don't have an expected publication date yet, but I will outline the changes for 2008 - 2009.

Thanks,

Randy

not-bob said...

After reading your article and the one you reference, I started listing all the reasons that it wouldn't work where I work.

- I'm not a manager
- I don't think anyone else would be interested
- I don't have time

Then I realized that that's part of the problem of establishing Testing and QA as a discipline. We have to start somewhere and why not do something, even if you don't have much confidence it will change anything? You may be surprised by the outcome

Randy Rice said...

Thanks for your honest comments. Right, we need to start somewhere. I've been amazed by the things that get accomplished at the grassroots level. Too often, the good things then turn bad once management or "the experts" take over!

Hang in there!

Randy