Esther Derby

Co-author of "Behind Closed Doors: Secrets of Great Management"

I started my career as a programmer, and over the years I’ve worn many hats, including business owner, internal consultant and manager. From all these perspectives, one thing became clear: our level of individual, team and company success was deeply impacted by our work environment and organizational dynamics. As a result, I have spent the last twenty-five years helping companies design their environment, culture, and human dynamics for optimum success.

I’ve written over 100 articles, and co-authored two books–Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great and Behind Closed Doors: Secrets of Great Management. I write about management, leadership, collaboration, organizations and change (or another topic I’m currently exploring).

Follow me on Twitter @estherderby


All Together Now: How Teams Decide
Change by Attraction
Creating an Environment for Successful Team
Improving Customer Conversations
Leaders at All Levels
Managing Complexity
Motivation that Doesn't Misfire
Power and Empowerment
Questionable Questions
Scaling Agile Teams
Seeing and Steering Organizational Systems: Tools for Managers
Six Rules for Change
Team Traps and How to Avoid Them
The Language of Change
The New Work of management in Agile Organizations
What Does Self-Organizing Team Really Mean?
Working with Complex Adaptive (Human) Systems


Northern Virginia Software Symposium April 12 - 13, 2019 Reston, VA
ÜberConf July 16 - 19, 2019 Denver, CO
TechLeader Summit December 4 - 6, 2019 Clearwater, FL


Debugging Technical Teams
February 27, 2019

This week I'm joined by Esther Derby and we discuss how tech teams get so toxic and dysfunctional and what we can do about it. Esther will be speaking at a few shows this year including the Northern Virginia Software Symposium and our flagship event, Uberconf

Esther is the co-author of Behind Closed Doors - Secrets of great management along with Johanna Rothman, Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great, and she is the author of 7 Rules for Positive Change


Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great

See how to mine the experience of your software development team continually throughout the life of the project. The tools and recipes in this book will help you uncover and solve hidden (and not-so-hidden) problems with your technology, your methodology, and those difficult "people" issues on your team.

Project retrospectives help teams examine what went right and what went wrong on a project. But traditionally, retrospectives (also known as "post-mortems") are only helpful at the end of the project--too late to help. You need agile retrospectives that are iterative and incremental. You need to accurately find and fix problems to help the team today.

Now, Derby and Larsen show you the tools, tricks, and tips you need to fix the problems you face on a software development project on an on-going basis. You'll see how to architect retrospectives in general, how to design them specifically for your team and organization, how to run them effectively, how to make the needed changes, and how to scale these techniques up. You'll learn how to deal with problems, and implement solutions effectively throughout the project--not just at the end.

With regular tune-ups, your team will hum like a precise, world-class orchestra.

Behind Closed Doors: Secrets of Great Management (Pragmatic Programmers)

Great management is difficult to see as it occurs. It's possible to see the results of great management, but it's not easy to see how managers achieve those results. Great management happens in one-on-one meetings and with other managers---all in private. It's hard to learn management by example when you can't see it.

You can learn to be a better manager---even a great manager---with this guide. You'll follow along as Sam, a manager just brought on board, learns the ropes and deals with his new team over the course of his first eight weeks on the job. From scheduling and managing resources to helping team members grow and prosper, you'll be there as Sam makes it happen. You'll find powerful tips covering:

  • Delegating effectively
  • Using feedback and goal-setting
  • Developing influence
  • Handling one-on-one meetings
  • Coaching and mentoring
  • Deciding what work to do---and what not to do
  • ...and more.

Full of tips and practical advice on the most important aspects of management, this is one of those books that can make a lasting and immediate impact on your career.