Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams Paperback – Dec 1999
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Peopleware asserts that most software development projects fail because of failures within the team running them. This strikingly clear, direct book is written for software development team leaders and managers, but it's filled with enough common-sense wisdom to appeal to anyone working in technology. Authors Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister include plenty of illustrative, often amusing anecdotes; their writing is light, conversational, and filled with equal portions of humour and wisdom, and there is a refreshing absence of "new age" terms and multi-step programmes. The advice is presented straightforwardly and ranges from simple issues of prioritisation to complex ways of engendering harmony and productivity in your team. Peopleware is a short read that delivers more than many books on the subject twice its size. --Jake Bond
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Top Customer Reviews
If you've seen dilbert style software "management" and want to find a better way, I can't recommend this book more strongly. If you read it, you'll want to find a way to get your superiors to read it as well.
In my experience, a great deal of so-called "management" is really shoft-term optimization: "IF we can eliminate X benefit we can save $Y per year!" and cost control. DeMarco and Lister point out that the real goal is productivity, and suggest numerous ways to treat employees as people to get increased productivity, as opposed to treating them as inhuman "Resources" and managing by spreadsheet.
One story from the book: In my early years as a developer, I was privileged to work on a project managed by Sharon Weinberg, now president of the Codd and Date Consulting Group. She was a walking example of much of what I now think of as enlightened management. One snowy day, I dragged msyelf out of a sickbed to pull together our shaky system for a user demo. Sharon came in and found me propped up at a console. She disappeared and came back a few minutes later with a container of soup. After she'd poured it into me and buoued up my spirits, I asked her hwo she found time to for such things with all the management work she had to do. She game me her patented grin and said "Tim, this _IS_ management!Read more ›
There is still a lot of good material for managers to consider. The authors make a very good point in the "true story" about the manager that brought soup in to an ill employee who was trying to meet a deadline. Management's job is to make it possible for people to work - not just to make them work.
I also found the information on teamwork to be very true based on my experience. I've seen defensive management at its worst, and how it was terrible to the team environment. Defensive management is a result of not following one of the earlier concepts of hiring the right people. Ultimately if you don't trust people to get the job done, why did you hire them in the first place?
Most of the information is not new nor is it really profound. However, that is the kind of thing that is usually taken for granted. The authors have given the material a good treatment and encourge the readers against this very thing.
Alas, it probably won't ever happen. Several years ago, the large (Fortune 20) company I worked for brought in Timothy Lister to present the book and the ideas in it to management prior to the start of a major software project. Lister did an excellent job presenting his and DeMarco's philosophy. The managers nodded sagely and showed every sign of comprehending and accepting the concepts contained in the book. Then Lister left, the project started, and the managers immediately reverted to the old style: setting unrealistic deadlines, pressuring employees to deliver more and more in less and less time, and in general following every tired old management strategy that almost always leads to a failed project -- as indeed, it did in this case.
So read this book, learn from it, and enjoy it (it's an easy, entertaining read) -- even if your managers are too stupid to profit from it.
Although the textual work of the authors is marvelous, the quality of the printed book (paperback edition) is awful. The paper is thin and translucent, showing the lines from the other pages, the interline spacing is too low, turning a page to a big mess. That was the only reason I've rated the book as four-stars.
The information in this book is very accurate, without pure assertions. The authors always are giving full references if they are providing figures or studies. The authors have a good sense of humor, and it is the great pleasure to read this book. The information is given in the very dense manner: the other authors might have needed ten volumes to express what Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister has put in this small book.
I strongly recommend this book to any individual involved in software development, as well as "Agile Software Development" by Alistair Cockburn. These books aren't from "ten steps to success" series. They encourage deep, creative approach to the topic.
Most recent customer reviews
Good book. The only thing I've read that impressed me more was The System by Roy Valentine. I got it here at amazon. You have to read this book.Published on Oct. 2 2004
This book is well worth reading for both low level employees and managers. Although directed at the software development community, the book presents many ideas which would be... Read morePublished on June 8 2004 by rjpryan
This book is as essential as everyone here makes it out to be. However, the authors' development of the notion of teamicide needs to be seriously questioned. Read morePublished on Oct. 10 2003 by R. Williams
If you're working an environment you know is dysfunctional and could be better, Peopleware is definitely worth a read. Read morePublished on Aug. 30 2003 by Gabrielle S. Hon
This book was recommended to me by the finest manager I've ever had the pleasure of working for. After reading it, I realized what set him apart was that he applied the principals... Read morePublished on Sept. 26 2002
That is, if you have an interest in any aspect of software development, project management, or just plain management. Read morePublished on Aug. 7 2002 by Kimberley Mitchell
Reading the table of contents for Peopleware tells you a lot about the content and the tone. Here are a few of the chapter headings:
Quality - If Time Permits
"You... Read more
As a long time software development manager, this book validates the common sense I knew I had. That common sense approach to developers will never come from text book management. Read morePublished on June 3 2002 by R Bigelow
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