Importance of Communicating the Results

If you don’t communicate the results, how are you growing / learning / improving?

Personal story

For years my wife and / or I have enjoyed hosting various events (ex. friends Thanksgiving meal, board game night, camping trip, etc.)  During the pandemic we stopped hosting many of those events.  Fast-forward to the past year and separate friends made comments about feeling left out at not being invited to these types of events (thinking we had continued to host but not invited them).  Our lack of communication led to misunderstandings.

Applications to work

Recently I completed the Growth Series program from Reforge.  One of the modules covers experimentation.  The idea presented is that our growth system has a cycle of:

  • Growth model – Growing engagement, retention, etc.
  • User Psychology – Understand our users and how they make decisions
  • Experimentation – Tweaking variables to improve our product and reinforce growth model

Through the process of running experiments, we need to communicate out the results, otherwise it breaks the cycle and leads to a useless process.  This can apply to experiments run, feedback gathered, or status on OKRs (objectives and key results), and more.

Methods for communication

How and what you communicate will depend on a number of factors.

  • Asynchronous or synchronous?
  • Targeted or broad audience?
  • Narrative story or metrics?
  • Etc.

For example, my Microsoft Graph CPx team has used a number of mechanisms including monthly newsletters, stakeholder briefing meetings, Power BI dashboards, customer story emails, and more.

Systems for success

Taking ideas from the book Atomic Habits, how can you set up systems for success, or what I like to affectionately call “fall into the pit of success”?  Make your communication mechanisms visible, easy to complete, and easily motivated.  This might include:

  • Setting a recurring team-level calendar reminder X days before due date
  • Create a template for how / what you want filled out
  • Use workflows / dashboards to collate information


Doing the work is important, but we must remember to complete the cycle by communicating out the results.  This will help inform how we iterate and improve the next cycle.  Personally, I’m keeping this in mind to improve on each project and effort I’m leading or participating in.

Please share in comments what techniques or approaches are helping you be more effective at communicating results?

-Frog Out

Reflections on sharing and requesting feedback

This week is “Perspectives Week” (time to request or provide feedback to peers across the org / company) so I’ll share out some of my tips on how I approach this:

  • Where
    • I use our internal MSConnect tool for majority of feedback requests, but also Yammer Praise for sending kudos / feedback to people who may not have requested feedback from me.
  • Who
    • Identify a mix of people inside your group (M2, aka manager’s manager, level and below) as well as outside.
    • Target individuals in varying roles (ex. marketing, engineering, sales, etc.) 
  • When
    • I like to request feedback 2x times per calendar year, ~2 months before my next semesterly review cycle (called a “Connect”).
      • This usually lands Feb-Mar and Sept-Oct.  This also avoids semester planning timeframes when many teams are heads down on writing / reviewing papers.
    • Do not request feedback from someone more than 1x per year.
      • This is not a hard requirement, but I find my own feedback for someone doesn’t change drastically within a given year.
  • How
    • Customize your request for feedback.
      • Include specific projects / teams / work efforts that you have collaborated on to focus the person’s feedback on.
      • Ex. “As we have been working together on <Project X>, I would appreciate any feedback you can share on my work or areas for improvement. Thank you for your time and attention.”
    • Provide constructive / usable feedback.
      • When filling out feedback for others, take the time to share actionable or thought-provoking feedback.
      • Avoid “you’re doing a great job” type bland feedback.

Two final notes.

  • Use the feedback system that makes sense
    • Not everyone is comfortable with sharing feedback is an official tool.  Others may prefer 1:1 chat / email / face to face.
  • Don’t worry if you don’t get a response
    • People are busy.  I know a number of peers who are overwhelmed by the number of feedback requests they receive (in addition to normal work).  You can “nudge” someone 1:1 if they haven’t responded on your feedback request, but also be respectful of their time.

How do you approach sharing and requesting feedback? Share your thoughts in the comments.

-Frog Out

Header image from Pixabay:

Retrospective for 2022

Continuing my tradition of writing a retrospective (2021, 2020201620152013201220112010) or look ahead (201920142013201220112010), in this post I’ll recap 2022 and share goals for what is ahead in 2023.


A few years ago, my wife and I bought a digital picture frame as a Christmas gift for our family (one of the best gifts as our kids love seeing older pictures of our family). This morning I saw down to review photos my wife and I took over the last year to load onto our picture frame. Turns out 2022 was an interesting year for a number of reasons:

  • The first half of the year (almost) everyone in our photos was masking / social distancing (compared to now when it is much less common)
  • My wife and I are reminded of the sweet times when our kids are hugging, helping each other, etc. instead of the other times when they are “not as sweet”
  • Family traditions are starting to develop (special photo poses during summer vacation, birthday celebration activities, etc.)

Overall, 2022 was a good year, so here is a look back at some of the bigger things for me personally.

Reading books

Building on my 2021 book challenge to read more (finished 10 with a goal of 4 that year), in 2022 I set a goal of reading 6 books. I received great book recommendations from friends / co-workers and I ended the year reading 18 books. You can view my list of books read in 2022. I most recommend the following:

Going into 2023 I’m targeting 8 books for the year. I could target higher, but I’m also getting more involved in a number of school / church / family commitments this year, so I want to leave room for those as well.


At the start of 2022 I purchased a Treadly 2 treadmill. This came highly recommended from a former teammate of mine. (Ignore all of the wires under my desk, project for another day…)

My goal was to get 15-20 mins of walking in my home office (I have an adjustable desk) a few days a week. Over the course of the year, I slowly increased the speed and duration of my walks. By the end of the 2022 I was walking 60-75 mins 3-5x times a week.

As an added bonus, I found out through my tracking app that I walked 120+ days of the year (literally 1 in every 3 days) and also walked more than 1,000,000 steps total.

Separately I’ve also been using a “core body” workout app to do a short morning workout for 10-20 mins about 3-4x times a week. I started halfway through 2022 and made good progress. I’ve lost 10 pounds and kept it off as well as shrunk my waist size a bit. Nice to have pants fitting more comfortably again.

I’m continuing my treadmill walking and exercise into the new year. I completed 2x 4-mile races at the end of last year. I don’t have goals to complete more races this year though as I hadn’t trained for those (treadmill walking doesn’t really compare to outdoor running).


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most in-person conferences were cancelled or went virtual over the past 2+ years. The Stir Trek Conference that I help organize came as a hybrid event last May. We were not certain how attendance all-up would be, let alone in-person attendance. We had a lower target for all-up attendance (1,500 total, ~1,000 in-person) but were pleasantly surprised that we sold out of tickets and did end up having more than 1,000 attend in person last May.

Our board of organizers is very thankful to everyone who supported us through the pandemic. Especially from a good number of attendees and sponsors agreeing to keep their registration money with us (we had a big financial hit from cancelling our 2020 event). We’ve already begun planning for 2023 and are looking to open up tickets to our previous max (~2,100 total).

Separate from Stir Trek, in 2022 I did present at a number of virtual events and conferences, most of them internal or Microsoft-run events though. Starting off 2023, I’m Presenting at M365 Twin Cities 2023 which is my first presentation at a community conference in over 3 years. Looking forward to other opportunities over the coming year.

2022 goals progress

Recapping my goals for 2022, I can confidently say I hit all of them.

  • Read 6 books (read 18)
  • Walk 5 miles per week (6-9 miles most weeks)
  • Compete in a dance competition (March 2022, and no I’m not sharing pictures 😉)

Looking ahead

My wife and I are kicking off 2023 with some family planning activities as well as home organization projects. We’re also celebrating our 10 year wedding anniversary later this year, so looking forward to a special trip near the end of the year.

Aside from those things, we’re actively encouraging our kids to find activities or clubs that spark their interest. This also means getting to know more families at our school and other places. Overall, I think 2023 will be a year focused on family growth / evolution, but without specific goals in mind at the moment.


As the world continues to experience many ups-and-downs, what are you focusing on for 2023? What things do you want leave behind or continue doing from 2022? Feel free to share any ideas or answers in the comments.

-Frog Out


Header Image by Ludo-Photos from Pixabay: link

Expressing Gratitude When Others Help You

Who has helped you recently? When did you last send them a praise / kudos / etc.?

On a monthly basis I lead a team retrospective for our Microsoft Graph CPx team. I generally adjust the questions each month so that we don’t keep repeating the same questions / responses each month.

This month, as part of our retrospective I posed the questions at top of this post.

  • Who has helped you recently?
  • When did you last send them a praise / kudos / etc.?

While everyone was able to identify people or teams that have helped them, responses to the second question varied from “I send perspectives feedback / praise regularly to X, Y, and Z” to “I haven’t sent anything to those people in awhile, thanks for the reminder”.

Personally, in addition to my monthly personal retrospective I also schedule time (~15 mins) on my calendar each month to send out praise to people that have helped me recently. Case in point, as we’re wrapping up this calendar year I just filled out 3 perspectives feedback requests before writing this post.

I encourage everyone to make a habit (schedule recurring time on your calendar, set a repeating ToDo reminder, etc.) of:

  1. identifying people that have helped you in the last week / month
  2. send those people a thank you / praise / kudos

How are you expressing your gratitude to others that have helped you?

-Frog Out

Drip by drip: cumulative progress over time

Starting July 1st of this year I set some goals for myself to get back into exercise routines and improve my overall health. Many of these are things that I had done before the pandemic but had not gotten back into.

  • Walk / run 4-mile (6.4 km) race before end of 2022
  • Workout for at least 10 mins a day, 4 days a week
  • Lose 10 pounds (4.5 kg) by end of 2022

Rather than dive head-first into these goals, I made small adjustments to my daily / weekly schedule and continued adding every few weeks, but always being consistent.

Much of the inspiration for this approach came from the book Atomic Habits by James Clear which I read earlier this year.


  • Installed a phone app for “core body workouts” that I use for 10-15 mins in the morning
    • I didn’t have high hopes for the app but here I am 40+ days later making real progress, repeating 3 days on and 1 day off for rest (even through vacations with family).
  • Walk on my home office treadmill at least 2-3 times a week
    • I now don’t let myself watch nighttime TV unless I’m walking on the treadmill. This motivates me to walk longer but also avoid eating unhealthy foods after dinner.
  • Reduce after hours snacking
    • This used to be a frequent problem, but with the other areas I’m seeing results with losing 7 pounds (3.2 kg) already, and I’m motivated to not gain that back by eating unhealthy foods.
  • Signed up for a 4-mile race in Oct
    • I’m already registered and working my way up in distance (see above for nighttime TV motivator for compounding effect).

Progress started out small and slow with the workouts, but overall I’m feeling in much better shape and plan to keep this up through the rest of the year. I enjoy that it was small adjustments that started to compound the gains I was seeing across the board.

What positive habits have you started up this year that have made an impact?

-Frog Out

Management for the Non-manager: Part 1

As part of my org’s FHL (fix hack learn) week, I wanted to explore Management training for Non-managers. I found a great learning path on LinkedIn Learning called “Become a Manager“. Here are a few lessons so far from the copious notes I’ve been taking.

  • Impact of the team
    • “Make the shift from me to we
    • Important perspective for managers as well as principal or higher individual contributors (IC)
  • Transition plans
    • If you are moving from IC to manager (or between management roles), define transition plans before and during changes
  • Communications
    • Communicate more often than you may think you need to.
    • Build relationship with team members (1:1s, recognize wins / failures as a team, etc.)
    • Share constructive feedback in private but in a positive manner
  • Delegate tasks / projects
    • Delegate strategically, even if it challenges a person
    • Ensure team has the clarity, training, and support to succeed
  • Civility and candor
    • When communicating, have a balance of civility (empathy) and candor (directness)
    • Without candor, communication lacks substance and manager may be seen as just “a nice person”
  • Feedback
    • When sharing feedback, avoid generalities (ex. “I know you can be a better salesperson”)
    • Be concrete and give examples (ex. “I’m confident you can increase sales by X% next quarter to show you are improving as a salesperson”)
    • Think SMART goals to create clarity
  • Decision making style
    • Share your decision making style ahead of time so team knows what to expect
    • Styles
      • Autocratic – Manager makes decision and informs team
      • Collaborative – Seek input from team then make decision
      • Democratic – Team makes the decision
    • If using Autocratic or Collaborative, explain your decision afterwards (if appropriate) and stick to decision
  • Integrity
    • Fairness relates to equal opportunities, not necessarily equal outcomes or distributions
    • Share credit widely as well as pains / failures
  • Authenticity
    • Confidence is projected through what you say, body language, etc.
    • Competence is demonstrated through work you produce
    • Being Authentic = open, humble, show humanity, and always “model the way”
    • Promote your employees more than yourself
  • Lieutenant / 2nd in command
    • Informal relationship for someone who can be your stand-in when needed
    • Shares feedback, mobilizes support, can take opposing perspective (plays devil’s advocate), and potential candidate for succession plan
    • They are not:
    • A clone of you, a “yes person”, nor an enforcer of manager’s commands
  • Resiliency
    • Understand how to get back up when knocked down
      • (I call this “filling your cup up after being drained” or “energizing your batteries”)
    • Diet, exercise, and sleep are basics to take care of yourself
    • Proactively reflect on yourself / team
    • Choose to spend time with other resilient, positive, and successful
  • Take notes
    • Easier to refer back to what was discussed / decided
    • Can be shared with others asynchronously

This post is only a partial copy of my notes from ~2hrs of training, but as you can see, writing / recording things helps for re-enforcing concepts but also being able to share afterwards.

I have more courses to complete in the learning path and will try to share out notes in a later post. Feel free to share in the comments other recommended training in the “management for non-managers” space.

-Frog Out