Review of Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams. Third Edition.
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|This book should be the first book for any IT manager seeking to optimize their software team’s productivity in a sustainable manner. Rather than emphasizing a manager’s role in software development as top-down, DeMarco and Lister stress that a successful manager primarily removes the institutional barriers to productivity so their software developers can excel. The authors challenge the traditional modular views of software developers as interchangeable cogs and software development as a factory line process. They also challenge the effectiveness of traditional project management techniques such as excessive overtime, top-down team motivation and artificially tight project deadlines. This book is straight-forward and enjoyable read for anyone involved in the business of software development that gives a no-nonsense approach to effective management techniques.|
Software development is primarily a creative process, not a factory assembly line process; otherwise it would have been automated long ago. Peopleware is full of practical advice supported by empirical evidence on how managers can enable their software teams to achieve their potential in a sustainable manner. Rather than promising a silver-bullet fix to improve productivity by 1000% immediately, the authors stress that a successful manager’s primary roles are to be a team cheerleader and enabler rather than a factory manager overseeing widget assemblers (see Chapter 10: Brain Time versus Body Time).
From emphasizing the importance of providing a workplace environment conducive to creative development, to challenging the most common project management delusions, the authors make a compelling case on why a lot of managers are approaching software development in the most detrimental manner possible. I particularly enjoyed their ‘shortlist of teamicide techiniques’: Defensive management, Bureaucracy, Physical Separation, Fragmentation of people’s time, Quality reduction of the product, Phony deadlines, and Clique control (pg. 144). How many developers have seen these qualities at companies they’ve left? I know I have. The authors lay out the often over-looked consequences of forced overtime and why it is not an effective long-term solution.
This book is straight-forward and enjoyable read for anyone involved in the business of software development that gives a no-nonsense approach to effective management techniques.
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