We’re a work in progress.

I’m part of an internal team working to improve all aspects of Microsoft’s product and engineering practices and culture, and these are a few of our starting hypotheses.

Hypothesis: Product engineering teams within Microsoft recognize that they need to get better at uncovering product opportunities, prioritizing work, and shipping code.

Hypothesis: Teams are interconnected — when you pull on a string in engineering, it connects to one in product. To help teams get better, we need to tackle product, engineering, and the roles in between.

Hypothesis: It’s possible to identify a cluster of behaviors, processes and tools that are associated…


Image by Ky Olsen https://www.flickr.com/photos/ky_olsen/

How has Yammer connected with customers in the past?

Over the past 5 years, the Yammer Research Team has connected with tens of thousands of people who use Yammer (plus many who are not yet customers!).

We talk to everyone: yes, not only admins and MVPs but also shift workers, middle managers, general contractors, small business owners, government agency clerks, interns, environmental scientists, field sales, support staff, retailers, and consultants who use Yammer.

When we talk with individual end users, they often come prepared with solutions of what we should build, change, or add. …


It’s been a little over 20 years since I joined my college’s computer club. I didn’t grow up with computers, so I was 5–10 years behind everyone else. Most peoples’ responses ranged from baffled to vaguely hostile: why would I be there if I didn’t already know what I was doing?

There was one person who went out of his way to be encouraging and make me feel welcome. Without him, I honestly probably would have given up on this whole computers thing. I’m not sure he ever realized that he made such a big difference to me.

I’ve been…

Cindy Alvarez

Building higher-performing product engineering teams within Microsoft. Author, Lean Customer Development. Raising up women leaders in tech.

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