There's Always a Duck

A collection of essays about people, culture, and teams

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  • Book language: English

About the Book

This book is a collection of my favorite and most popular essays selected from my blog ( and other places I've published. Within these pages, you'll find stories about cultures, people, and teams. You'll discover how something as simple as coffee can demonstrate how "normal" is inherently context-dependent. You'll read about unfortunate failures to communicate and what ducks can teach us about translation. You'll meet people who I admire and who have inspired me. You'll read the story of the software sales guy who admitted that he wouldn't use his software either. In all, the book contains 31 essays in 179 pages spanning 15 years of writing. I've edited all the essays and added new bits to stitch the whole thing together. Even if you've been a long time reader of my blog you will find something new within these pages.

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Table of Contents

  1. Preface
  2. Something Familiar
    1. Always a Duck
    2. More Similar Than Different
    3. We're All Human
    4. A Duck by Any Other Name
  3. Translations and Failures in Communication
    1. Lost in Translation
    2. What They Forgot to Say
    3. What's in a Name? Everything.
    4. Becky and Matthew
  4. A Nice Cup of Coffee
    1. Normal is in the Eye of the Beholder
    2. ``Normal'' in Context
    3. Brewing Trouble
  5. Software in the Wild
    1. But Do You Know if It's Any Good
    2. The Problem with 63,000 Bugs
    3. Inside Information
    4. Minimally Viable
  6. Play Time
    1. Thinking Games
    2. Trucks in the Sandbox
    3. Adventures in Virtual Testing, a Fable
    4. Little Green Men
  7. Observations
    1. Noticing the Little Things
    2. Looking for What's Not There
    3. The Problem Isn't Always THE Problem
    4. Schrödinger's Cat
  8. Navigating
    1. Going Down with the Ship
    2. Ensuring Project Success: 10 Rules of the Road
    3. You Can't Test the Wings Back on an Airplane
    4. Don't Confuse Speed with Progress
    5. Fear is a Lousy Compass
  9. Community
    1. How Tim Lister Changed My Life
    2. Agile Up to Here
    3. The Gordon Pask Award
  10. Parting Thoughts

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