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3.3 out of 5 stars
3.3 out of 5 stars
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on March 6, 2000
This book was not what I expected. Humphrey uses mostly anecdotal examples to illustrate his many points. Though this helps get his points across, it does not really prove his assertions.
Most of his advice is not practical, or even possible in the employment situations I've seen (and heard about) over the last ten years or so. I found a few interesting parts, much like I would find it interesting to listen to the tales of any old-timer about the 'good old days', and some of his insights about people in general are quite keen.
Some parts really hurt my will to read on. For example, he seems to believe that if a manager can get his team members to work lots of overtime, that higher productivity will automatically follow. Someone who has written books about the use of careful measurements during software development should know better. The evidence I've seen and read (in other books) indicates that regular overtime is a 'bad smell' of deeper problems, and a perfect recipe for low quality and ultimately failed projects.
He even claims that the manager's job is to put schedule pressure on the engineers, otherwise they'll take forever and never get anything done. Again, he includes a little anecdotal example. However, with very few exceptions all of the engineers I've worked with hold themselves to certain standards of quality and productivity. Usually management pressure (especially the old time-crunch game) just hurts more than it helps.
Overall, much of his advice doesn't fit with the reality I've been experiencing lately.
I recommend comparing and contrasting Humphrey's advice with that found in "Peopleware" (2nd ed.) by DeMarco & Lister.
Also, for even better book full of 'management tips' see "201 Principles of Software Development" by Davis.
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on July 7, 1999
This book is rich in detailed advice about managing teams of engineers. Futhermore Watts Humphrey uses many interesting examples --- some anecdotal, some from his experience at IBM, and some historical --- to illustrate this advice. My favorite example involved President Theodore Roosevelt and the introduction of continuous-aim firing in the US Navy.
However, there is a flaw that runs through this book from the beginning to the end. Humphrey assumes that the organizational context is a large vertically integrated company like IBM circa 1970. That kind of company has all but disappeared nowadays. It is rare for large companies to develop new products today --- instead they buy the startup that has already developed the product they want. Important champions aren't powerful executives; rathey they are wealthy angels or powerful venture capitalists that fund the startups.
Interestingly, this flaw hurts some chapters and hardly affects others. For example, the chapter on the importance of the commitment ethic remains true even though the organizational context is very different nowadays.
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on February 17, 2002
This book is a great book for anyone who currently manages and wants to understand how to get the most out of his team. It has plenty of great suggestions to improve people-development as well as process-development. But more important than the suggestions, this book explains why and how certain courses of action succeed while others fail.
Too often technical people are promoted into management with no training. One cannot learn how to manage by merely performing technical tasks. One can learn by reading books like this one.
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on January 17, 2000
Keenly written book, shows the depth of Watts Humphrey's experience. Greatly rewarding for anyone who is willing to look at situations without applying oppressor/oppressed stereotypes. The book will sail cleanly over the heads of those who do not have at least 4-5 years of hands-on management experience, and will boink the others between the eyes. The sections where he talks about why technical people appear dissatisfied and how managers fail them were just amazingly useful once I forgot to fight the contents.
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on July 20, 2001
Some of what he writes is correct, some of it is malarky. I read the entire book hoping he reveal some valuable information. Nope. Worse, in that his methods destroy morale. He seems to think that being a tyrant is the way to get a project done. Ive seen plenty of tyrants fail. Dont waste your time. Try reading Steve McConnel and Tom Demarco instead. (Peopleware and Rapid development)
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on February 22, 2002
This is a great book for someone who's looking for cases and practical ideas. It doesn't give any numerical analyses or "magical" formulas. It's a guide for project managers and how to manage different people with different skills and professional perspectives.
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