Beautiful Teams: Inspiring and Cautionary Tales from Veteran Team Leaders


What's it like to work on a great software development team facing an impossible problem? How do you build an effective team? Can a group of people who don't get along still build good software? How does a team leader keep everyone on track when the stakes are high and the schedule is tight?

Beautiful Teams takes you behind the scenes with some of the most interesting teams in software engineering history. You'll learn from veteran team leaders' successes and failures, told ...

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Beautiful Teams: Inspiring and Cautionary Tales from Veteran Team Leaders

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What's it like to work on a great software development team facing an impossible problem? How do you build an effective team? Can a group of people who don't get along still build good software? How does a team leader keep everyone on track when the stakes are high and the schedule is tight?

Beautiful Teams takes you behind the scenes with some of the most interesting teams in software engineering history. You'll learn from veteran team leaders' successes and failures, told through a series of engaging personal stories — and interviews — by leading programmers, architects, project managers, and thought leaders.

This book includes contributions from:

  • Tim O'Reilly
  • Scott Berkun
  • Mark Healey
  • Bill DiPierre
  • Andy Lester
  • Keoki Andrus
  • Tom Tarka
  • Auke Jilderda
  • Grady Booch
  • Jennifer Greene
  • Mike Cohn
  • Cory Doctorow
  • Neil Siegel
  • Trevor Field
  • James Grenning
  • Steve McConnell
  • Barry Boehm and Maria H. Penedo
  • Peter Gluck
  • Karl E. Wiegers
  • Alex Martelli
  • Karl Fogel
  • Michael Collins
  • Karl Rehmer
  • Andrew Stellman
  • Ned Robinson
  • Scott Ambler
  • Johanna Rothman
  • Mark Denovich and Eric Renkey
  • Patricia Ensworth
  • Andy Oram
  • Tony Visconti

Beautiful Teams is edited by Andrew Stellman and Jennifer Greene, veteran software engineers and project managers who have been writing bestselling books for O'Reilly since 2005, including Applied Software Project Management, Head First PMP, and Head First C#.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780596518028
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/6/2009
  • Pages: 510
  • Sales rank: 1,443,099
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrew Stellman, despite being raised a New Yorker, has lived in Pittsburgh twice. The first time was when he graduated from Carnegie Mellon's School of Computer Science, and then again when he and Jenny were starting their consulting business and writing their first project management book for O'Reilly. When he moved back to his hometown, his first job after college was as a programmer at EMI-Capitol Records—which actually made sense, since he went to LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and the Performing Arts to study cello and jazz bass guitar. He and Jenny first worked together at that same financial software company, where he was managing a team of programmers. He's since managed various teams of software engineers, requirements analysts, and led process improvement efforts. Andrew keeps himself busy eating an enormous amount of string cheese and Middle Eastern desserts, playing music (but video games even more), studying taiji and aikido, having a girlfriend named Lisa, and owing a pomeranian. For more information about Andrew, Jennifer Greene, and their books, visit

Jennifer Greene studied philosophy in college but, like everyone else in the field, couldn't find a job doing it. Luckily, she's a great software tester, so she started out doing it at an online service, and that's the first time she got a good sense of what project management was. She moved to New York in 1998 to test software at a financial software company. She managed a team of testers at a really cool startup that did artificial intelligence and natural language processing. Since then, she's managed large teams of programmers, testers, designers, architects, and other engineers on lots of projects, and she's done a whole bunch of procurement management. She loves traveling, watching Bollywood movies, drinking carloads of carbonated beverages, and owing a whippet. For more information about Jennifer, Andrew Stellman, and their books, visit

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Table of Contents

Why Beautiful Teams?;
Why These Contributors?;
How This Book Is Organized;
How to Contact Us;
Safari® Books Online;
About the Editors;
Chapter 1: Leadership;
Part I: People;
Chapter 2: Why Ugly Teams Win;
2.1 Ugly Talent;
2.2 Ugly As Beautiful;
2.3 My Wabi-Sabi Team: Internet Explorer 4.0;
Chapter 3: Building Video Games;
Chapter 4: Building the Perfect Team;
Chapter 5: What Makes Developers Tick;
Chapter 6: Inspiring People;
Chapter 7: Bringing the Music Industry into the 21st Century: One Lawsuit at a Time;
7.1 A New Project, A New Team;
7.2 A Calculated Risk …;
7.3 Gentlemen, Start Your Rippers…;
7.4 The Final Month;
7.5 I Am So Smart: S-M-R-T … S-M-A-R-T;
7.6 Engineering Department Smokes a Collective Cigarette;
7.7 Intermission: The Founding of a Panda Preserve;
7.8 "You Realists Can Stay the Hell Out of Our Office!";
7.9 Not with a Bang, But with a Whimper …;
7.10 Epilogue;
7.11 Afterword;
Chapter 8: Inner Source;
Part II: Goals;
Chapter 9: Creating Team Cultures;
Chapter 10: Putting the "I" in Failure;
Chapter 11: Planning;
Chapter 12: The Copyfighters Take Mordor;
Chapter 13: Defending the Free World;
Chapter 14: Saving Lives;
Part III: Practices;
Chapter 15: Building a Team with Collaboration and Learning;
15.1 Selling Management;
15.2 Getting Started;
15.3 Growing the Team;
15.4 Pressing the Envelope and the Process Police;
15.5 Learning;
15.6 Requirements Versus On-Site Customer;
15.7 Trouble in River City;
15.8 Companies Make Their Own Troubles;
15.9 Future Projects;
15.10 Collaboration Success Factors;
15.11 References;
Chapter 16: Better Practices;
Chapter 17: Memories of TRW's Software Productivity Project: A Beautiful Team, Challenged to Change the CultureEditors' note: if you've worked on a software team in the past 20 years, you have been influenced by Barry Boehm. He was one of the first people to take a systematic approach to estimating and planning software projects. And many people (including us) believe that his pioneering Spiral Model is the direct predecessor to the modern idea of iterative development.;
17.1 Background on the Software Productivity Project;
17.2 Making the Project a Reality;
17.3 Project Stories;
17.4 Conclusion;
17.5 References;
17.6 Acknowledgments;
Chapter 18: Building Spaceships;
Chapter 19: Succeeding with Requirements: A Drama in Three Acts;
19.1 The Setting;
19.2 The Cast;
19.3 Prologue: Paul Is in a Pickle;
19.4 Act I: Girding Our Loins;
19.5 Act II: Use Cases, Schmuse Cases;
19.6 Act III: Look Over My Shoulder;
19.7 Epilogue: Let's Eat!;
19.8 Coda: Then What Happened?;
19.9 Useful References;
19.10 Acknowledgments;
Chapter 20: Development at Google;
Chapter 21: Teams and Tools;
21.1 How Open Source Projects Work;
21.2 The Contribulyzer;
21.3 Commit Emails and Gumption Sinks;
21.4 They're Staying Away in Droves: A Tale of Two Translation Interfaces;
21.5 Conclusion;
Chapter 22: Research Teams;
Chapter 23: The HADS Team;
23.1 The Background;
23.2 The Initial Team;
23.3 Getting It Right;
23.4 Dealing with User Issues;
23.5 Epilogue;
Part IV: Obstacles;
Chapter 24: Bad Boss;
Chapter 25: Welcome to the Process: Step Inside, Step Inside, and See the Show;
Chapter 26: Getting Past Obstacles;
Chapter 27: Speed Versus Quality: Why Do We Need to Choose?;
27.1 How Did We Get Here?;
27.2 About the Team;
27.3 Becoming Part of the Team;
27.4 Starting Off Right;
27.5 Solving Problems As a Team;
27.6 What Code Review Looked Like;
27.7 Unit Tests;
27.8 Check-ins;
27.9 Builds;
27.10 Schedules;
27.11 Status Reports;
27.12 Go Faster Now!;
27.13 Looking for More Speed;
27.14 Losing a Week at a Time;
27.15 What to Do Next;
27.16 Retaining Integrity;
27.17 The Rubber Meets the Road;
27.18 Success at Last;
27.19 Epilogue;
27.20 References;
Chapter 28: Tight, Isn't It?;
28.1 Only Pawn…in Game of Life, or "What's a Dazzling Urbanite Like You Doing in a Rustic Setting Like This?";
28.2 CMM Level Subzero, or "Processes, We Don't Need No Stinking Processes!";
28.3 The Brown Hole, or "I'd Say You've Had Enough";
28.4 Some of These Envelopes Contain Stock Options, or "I'm Through Being Mr. Goodbar, the Time Has Come to Act and Act Quickly";
28.5 The Blitz, or "Break's Over, Boys, Don't Just Lie There Gettin' a Suntan…";
28.6 Our Invite to the Number Six Dance, or "What Is It That's Not Exactly Water and It Ain't Exactly Earth?";
28.7 Epilogue, or "Nowhere Special…I Always Wanted to Go There";
Chapter 29: Inside and Outside the Box;
Chapter 30: Compiling the Voice of a Team;
30.1 A Gem from the Computing Past;
30.2 Rewiring;
30.3 Coping;
30.4 Coding;
30.5 Capitulating;
30.6 The Break;
30.7 Anticipating 21st-Century Management;
30.8 Final Notes;
Part V: Music;
Chapter 31: Producing Music;

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