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Beyond Chaos: The Expert Edge in Managing Software Development / Edition 1

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Overview

The popularity of the Management Forum in Software Development Magazine is not surprising. Because the majority of software development projects fail to come in on time, on budget, or on specification, software development managers are constantly seeking out management approaches and techniques that will help them achieve success. Many software development projects deteriorate into a state of chaos.

In Beyond Chaos, the keenest contributions to the Management Forum have been incorporated into a single volume to reveal best practices in managing software projects and organizations. The forty-five essays contained in this book are written by many of the leading names in software development, software engineering, and technical management. Each piece has been selected and edited to provide highly focused ideas and suggestions that can be translated into immediate practice. Pragmatic and provocative, they address key management concerns involving people, planning and productivity, coping under pressure, quality, development processes, and leadership and teamwork.

Highlights of the book include:

  • Larry Constantine, "Dealing with Difficult People: Changing the Changeable"
  • Karl Wiegers, "First Things First: A Project Manager's Primer"
  • Capers Jones, "Productivity by the Numbers: What Can Speed Up or Slow Down Software Development"
  • Ed Yourdon, "Death March: Surviving a Hopeless Project"
  • Dave Thomas, "Web-Time Development: High-Speed Software Engineering"
  • Meilir Page-Jones, "Seduced by Reuse: Realizing Reusable Components"
  • Jim Highsmith, "Order for Free: An Organic Model for Adaptation"
  • Steve McConnell, "Managing Outsourced Projects: Project Management Inside-Out"

These and many more insightful and advisory essays together represent the cutting edge in software development management and the collective wisdom of the field's most knowledgeable practitioners. Both entertaining and enlightening, Beyond Chaos will enrich your skills and enhance your deeper understanding of the process of bringing software from idea to reality.

0201719606B06262001

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Reprints 45 essays originally published in the Management Forum of magazine. The authors, who are working managers and consultants in the software industry, discuss dealing with difficult people, managing from the bottom-up, coping with project failure, sustaining teamwork, and building software to throw away. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780201719604
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley
  • Publication date: 6/1/2001
  • Series: ACM Press Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Larry L. Constantine, a pioneer of modern software engineering practice, is highly regarded as an authority on the human side of software development. A leading international lecturer, author, editor, and consultant, he has ten books and more than 120 published papers to his credit. Under the pen name Lior Samson, Larry has just published his first novel, Bashert, a political thriller set against the backdrop of Israel’s emergence as a nuclear power.

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Read an Excerpt

Chaos. Not the inchoate state of the early universe, not the ill-behaved subject of a specialized branch of mathematics, not the mid-revolutionary fragmentation of a society in transition, but coding chaos—the everyday reality of projects that develop software applications for computers and the World Wide Web.

Countless managers struggle for control and stability, for accountability and predictability amidst this chaos. From the project leaders, who provide the day-to-day oversight and guidance all the way up to the CIOs, whose charge is strategic direction and corporate-wide coordination, they struggle to understand and manage technology and processes of enormous complexity made all the more complex and unmanageable by the relentless and accelerating pace of technological change.

Herding squirrels. Corralling cats. Taming the mongrel hordes. Whatever the metaphor, the challenges of managing software development are legend. The stories are alarmingly similar for projects of every scope and size, whether staffed by the arrayed forces of thousands of programmers and testers or tackled by a small team of freelancers. The budget may be blown by a hundred percent or more and deadline upon deadline may be passed like so many exits on a freeway. Rarely do software development projects meet budget constraints, techni-cal objectives, and delivery schedules—if indeed recognizable constraints, objectives, and schedules exist. Applications that are far more complex than a highrise office building have sometimes been launched with little more planning than a sketch on the back of a napkin.

Some managers simply give up and accept this uncontrolled chaos as the state of affairs, an unchangeable reality and the unavoidable price of dealing with a highly paid and poorly understood profession. They accept the reality of seeking discipline among the undisciplined, of perpetually pushing the envelope of the possible, or of seeking certainty where specifications are little more than executive fantasies and deadlines are the arbitrary impositions of uninformed marketing managers.

Some managers seek refuge in mindnumbing manuals of procedure and in the step-by-step details of elaborately defined processes. They rationalize the investment in expensive systems that promise predictability through the imposition of regulation and regimentation.

Some managers, defining defeat as success, instead celebrate unmanageable chaos as the crucible of creation, the necessary and desired context in which to unleash the powers of the digital genie that will transform life on earth.

Beyond chaos, however, beyond surrender or celebration, is another view of software development—the view that software development projects and software developers are indeed manageable, that chaos is not an inevitable condition or concomitant. In this view, salvation dwells in the details, success lies in subtle insights, and control is achieved through thoughtful attention and planning.

The expert edge is the difference. Compiled in this book are the insights, inspiration, practical pointers, and provocative thinking of an elite assemblage of working managers and practicing consultants—the recognized experts who contributed monthly to The Management Forum. The Forum, a regular feature in the respected industry publication Software Development, occupied the prestigious inside back page of the magazine and proved to be one its most popular features.

Written for busy working managers, the Forum featured pragmatic, provocative essays by the leading thinkers and doers in software and Web development, software engineering, and technical management, including such industry luminaries as Ed Yourdon, Capers Jones, Meilir Page-Jones, Steve McConnell, and Jim Highsmith. The column set high standards for the clarity and quality of both the writing and the thinking it expressed. Every guest columnist was charged with the twin tasks of providing something that a working manager could put to use tomorrow and of offering something to think about for the next week.

Not surprisingly in light of the diversity of contributors, the discussions reprinted in this volume represent diverse views grounded in a variety of backgrounds and experiences. What they have in common, however, are common and positive threads—that software development and software developers are manageable, and that better management in this economically and technologically critical field is sorely needed.

The essays span such diverse topics as dealing with difficult people, managing from the bottom-up, coping with project failure, sustaining teamwork, and building software to throw away. Managers will find among the chapters the distilled essence of experience and the hard-won wisdom of those who have fought in the trenches of technical management, and won.

Highly focused analyses and specific suggestions are combined with provocative arguments and thoughtful perspectives. The essays have been edited and organized by broad subject matter and arranged to form a logical progression, finishing with what I hope will stand as a challenge and a look to the future of management and of software development.

Larry Constantine Rowley, Massachusetts March 2001


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Table of Contents

I. IT'S ABOUT PEOPLE.

1. Dealing with Difficult People: Changing the Changeable.

Larry Constantine.

2. Avoiding Feedback Traps: Improving Customer and Client Communication.

Naomi Karten.

3. These are Trained Professionals: Beyond Training to Transformation.

Larry Constantine.

4. Maintaining Your Balance: Managing Working Relationships.

Sue Petersen.

5. Job Qualifications: On Hiring the Best.

Larry Constantine.

6. Problem-Solving Meta-Rules: Habits of Productive People.

Larry Constantine.

II. PROJECT MANAGEMENT.

7. First Things First: A Project Manager's Primer.

Karl Wiegers.

8. Money Bags and Baseball Bats: Sponsorship Rules.

Rob Thomsett.

9. Productivity by the Numbers: What Can Speed Up or Slow Down Software Development.

Capers Jones.

10. Software Waste Management: Managing Data Migration.

John Boddie.

11. When in Doubt, Blame Everybody: The Responsibility for Usability.

Lucy Lockwood.

12. Creative Input: From Feature Fantasies to Practical Products.

Larry Constantine.

13. Software Collaborations: Managing the Complexities of Cooperation.

Mary Loomis.

14. Managing Outsourced Projects: Project Management Inside Out.

Steve McConnell.

15. Tough Customers: Toward Win-Win Solutions.

Ulla Merz.

16. Avoiding the Iceberg: Reading the Project Warning Signs.

Ed Ziv.

17. Lemonade from Lemons: Learning from Project Failure.

Norman L. Kerth.

III. UNDER PRESSURE.

18. Death March: Surviving a Hopeless Project.

Ed Yourdon.

19. Web-Time Development: High-Speed Software Engineering.

Dave Thomas.

20. Taking the Crunch Out of Crunch Mode: Alternatives to Mandatory Overtime.

Johanna Rothman.

21. Reducing Cycle Time: Getting Through Bottlenecks, Blocks, and Bogs. Dennis J. Frailey.

22. Dot-Com Management: Surviving the Startup Syndrome. Tony Wasserman.

23. Cutting Corners: Shortcuts in Model-Driven Web Development.

Larry Constantine.

IV. QUALITY REQUIRED.

24. No More Excuses: Innovative Technology and Irrelevant Tangents.

Peter Coffee.

25. The Mess Is Your Fault: Toward the Software Guild.

Michael Vizard.

26. Seduced by Reuse: Realizing Reusable Components.

Meilir Page-Jones.

27. Real-Life Requirements: Caught Between Quality and Deadlines.

Larry Constantine.

28. Rules Rule: Business Rules as Requirements.

Ellen Gottesdiener.

29. Taming the Wild Web: Business Alignment in Web Development.

Lucy Lockwood.

30. Calming Corporate Immune Systems: Overcoming Risk Aversion.

Gifford Pinchot and Gene Callahan.

31. Inventing Software: Breakthroughs on Demand.

Larry Constantine.

V. DEVELOPMENT PROCESSES AND PRACTICES.

32. Order for Free: An Organic Model for Adaptation.

Jim Highsmith.

33. Beyond Level Five: From Optimization to Adaptation.

Jim Highsmith.

34. Optimization or Adaptation: In Pursuit of a Paradigm.

Sylvain Hamel and Jim Highsmith.

35. Adaptive Software Development: An Experience Report.

James Emery.

36. Creating a Culture of Commitment: Of Deadlines, Discipline, and Management Maturity.

Larry Constantine.

37. The Commando Returns: Learning from Experience in the Trenches.

David Thielen.

38. Persistent Models: Models as Corporate Assets.

Larry Constantine.

39. Card Magic for Managers: Low-Tech Techniques for Design and Decisions.

Ron Jeffries.

40. Throwaway Software: Delivering Through Discards.

Dwayne Phillips.

41. Unified Hegemony: Beyond Universal Solutions.

Larry Constantine.

VI. LEADERSHIP AND TEAMWORK.

42. Scaling Up: Teamwork in the Large.

Larry Constantine.

43. Sustaining Teamwork: Promoting Life-Cycle Teams.

Peter Jones.

44. Managing from the Below: The Russian Embassy Method.

John Boddie.

45. On Becoming a Leader: Advice for Tomorrow's Development Managers.

Larry Constantine.

References.

Index. 0201719606T04062001.

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Preface

Chaos. Not the inchoate state of the early universe, not the ill-behaved subject of a specialized branch of mathematics, not the mid-revolutionary fragmentation of a society in transition, but coding chaos--the everyday reality of projects that develop software applications for computers and the World Wide Web.

Countless managers struggle for control and stability, for accountability and predictability amidst this chaos. From the project leaders, who provide the day-to-day oversight and guidance all the way up to the CIOs, whose charge is strategic direction and corporate-wide coordination, they struggle to understand and manage technology and processes of enormous complexity made all the more complex and unmanageable by the relentless and accelerating pace of technological change.

Herding squirrels. Corralling cats. Taming the mongrel hordes. Whatever the metaphor, the challenges of managing software development are legend. The stories are alarmingly similar for projects of every scope and size, whether staffed by the arrayed forces of thousands of programmers and testers or tackled by a small team of freelancers. The budget may be blown by a hundred percent or more and deadline upon deadline may be passed like so many exits on a freeway. Rarely do software development projects meet budget constraints, techni-cal objectives, and delivery schedules--if indeed recognizable constraints, objectives, and schedules exist. Applications that are far more complex than a highrise office building have sometimes been launched with little more planning than a sketch on the back of a napkin.

Some managers simply give up and accept this uncontrolled chaos as the state of affairs, an unchangeable reality and the unavoidable price of dealing with a highly paid and poorly understood profession. They accept the reality of seeking discipline among the undisciplined, of perpetually pushing the envelope of the possible, or of seeking certainty where specifications are little more than executive fantasies and deadlines are the arbitrary impositions of uninformed marketing managers.

Some managers seek refuge in mindnumbing manuals of procedure and in the step-by-step details of elaborately defined processes. They rationalize the investment in expensive systems that promise predictability through the imposition of regulation and regimentation.

Some managers, defining defeat as success, instead celebrate unmanageable chaos as the crucible of creation, the necessary and desired context in which to unleash the powers of the digital genie that will transform life on earth.

Beyond chaos, however, beyond surrender or celebration, is another view of software development--the view that software development projects and software developers are indeed manageable, that chaos is not an inevitable condition or concomitant. In this view, salvation dwells in the details, success lies in subtle insights, and control is achieved through thoughtful attention and planning.

The expert edge is the difference. Compiled in this book are the insights, inspiration, practical pointers, and provocative thinking of an elite assemblage of working managers and practicing consultants--the recognized experts who contributed monthly to The Management Forum. The Forum, a regular feature in the respected industry publication Software Development, occupied the prestigious inside back page of the magazine and proved to be one its most popular features.

Written for busy working managers, the Forum featured pragmatic, provocative essays by the leading thinkers and doers in software and Web development, software engineering, and technical management, including such industry luminaries as Ed Yourdon, Capers Jones, Meilir Page-Jones, Steve McConnell, and Jim Highsmith. The column set high standards for the clarity and quality of both the writing and the thinking it expressed. Every guest columnist was charged with the twin tasks of providing something that a working manager could put to use tomorrow and of offering something to think about for the next week.

Not surprisingly in light of the diversity of contributors, the discussions reprinted in this volume represent diverse views grounded in a variety of backgrounds and experiences. What they have in common, however, are common and positive threads--that software development and software developers are manageable, and that better management in this economically and technologically critical field is sorely needed.

The essays span such diverse topics as dealing with difficult people, managing from the bottom-up, coping with project failure, sustaining teamwork, and building software to throw away. Managers will find among the chapters the distilled essence of experience and the hard-won wisdom of those who have fought in the trenches of technical management, and won.

Highly focused analyses and specific suggestions are combined with provocative arguments and thoughtful perspectives. The essays have been edited and organized by broad subject matter and arranged to form a logical progression, finishing with what I hope will stand as a challenge and a look to the future of management and of software development.

Larry Constantine
Rowley, Massachusetts
March 2001

0201719606P06202001

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