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With humor and wisdom drawn from years of management and consulting experience, DeMarco and Lister demonstrate that the major issues of software development are human, not technical - and that managers ignore them at their peril.
Now, with a new Preface and eight new chapters, the authors enlarge upon their previous ideas and add fresh insights, examples, and anecdotes.
Discover dozens of helpful tips on
Peopleware shows you how to cultivate teams that are healthy and productive. The answers aren't easy - just incredibly successful.
Authors Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister have updated and expanded their classic publication on growing and managing productive teams and successful software projects. And, they did it just in time for the 10th anniversary of their prescient first edition. As in the first edition, they emphasize the "human resource" and take a hard, incisive and many times humorous look at people, teams and their surroundings -- Peopleware, the source of success or failure for all software projects.
The seven kinds of teamicide we described in the 1987 edition of Peopleware seemed to stretch from the alpha to the omega of the subject. But there are two important kinds of teamicide that we missed. Like the original seven, these two additions are practiced widely in our field. One of them has become so ubiquitous that a small growth industry has sprung up to support it. . . .
Those Damn Posters and Plaques
Pick up the airline magazine or on-board shoppers' catalog on your next flight and flip through the full-page advertisements. Somewhere in there you will come upon a colorful selection of inspirational posters and framed messages for display on corporate walls (lest someone use up the wall space with work products). Don't just glance at them, but force yourself to read through them all, turning over their texts in your mind and savoring their syrupy prose. If you're not angry by the time you're done, you may have been serving under lousy managers for much too much of your career.
Most forms of teamicide do their damage by effectively demeaning the work, or demeaning the people who do it. Teams are catalyzed by a common sense that the work is important and that doing it well is worthwhile. The word well in this last sentence is essential: The team assigns itself the task of setting and upholding a standard of prideful workmanship. All team members understand that the quality of the work is important to the organization, but the team adopts a still higher standard to distinguish itself. Without this distinguishing factor, the group is just a group, never a real team.
Into this complicated mix, now imagine dropping a $150 framed poster to advise people that ''Quality Is Job One.'' Oh. Gee, we never would have thought that. No sir, we sort of assumed -- until this wonderful poster came along -- that Quality was Job Twenty-Nine, or maybe Eleventy-Seven, or maybe even lower than that on the corporate value scale, maybe someplace after reducing ear wax or sorting the trash. But now we know. Thanks.
These motivational accessories, as they are called (including slogan coffee mugs, plaques, pins, key chains, and awards), are a triumph of form over substance. They seem to extol the importance of Quality, Leadership, Creativity, Teamwork, Loyalty, and a host of other organizational virtues. But they do so in such simplistic terms as to send an entirely different message: Management here believes that these virtues can be improved with posters rather than by hard work and managerial talent. Everyone quickly understands that the presence of the posters is a sure sign of the absence of hard work and talent.
That important matters like these should be the subject of motivational posters is already an insult. But the implementation makes it even worse. Consider one example marketed by a company: It shows a soft-focus image of sweating oarsmen, rowing in perfect unison through the misty morning. Underneath it reads, in part:
The ''common people'' they're talking about here are you and your workmates. Common people. (Don't take it too hard.) At least they're consistent in attitude: The same company's Leadership poster tells us that ''the speed of the leader determines the rate of the pack.'' The pack. Yep, that's you again.
Motivational accessories are phony enough to make most people's skin crawl. They do harm in healthy organizations. The only place where they do no harm is where they are ignored -- as in companies where the harm was done long, long ago and people have ceased to register any further decline.
The Side Effects of Overtime
Readers of the original edition of Peopleware may already have picked up a certain bias against the use of overtime. It has been our experience that the positive potential of working extra hours is far exaggerated, and that its negative impact is almost never considered. That negative impact can be substantial: error, burnout, accelerated turnover, and compensatory ''undertime.'' In this section, we examine yet another negative effect of overtime: its teamicidal repercussions on otherwise healthy work groups.
Imagine a project with a well-jelled team. You and your colleagues are producing good work at a rate that is frankly astonishing, even to you and your boss. You all understand this to be the beneficial effect of team jell, that the whole of your team production capacity is greater than the sum of your individual productivities. But it's still not enough. The powers that be have promised the product for June, and it's just not going to get done at the current rate.
Sounds like a case for a little overtime, right? You move the team into high gear, add a few hours to the workweek (still at the same high production rate), maybe work a few Saturdays. There is only one problem: One of your teammatesÑlet's call him AllenÑjust doesn't have the flexibility that the rest of you enjoy. He is a widower and thus the primary care-giver for his little boy. Allen has to show up at the day-care facility at 5:15 each afternoon to pick the child up. As you might imagine, his Saturdays and Sundays, the only real quality time with his son, are inviolable.
Hey, that's okay, you think, we'll cover for Allen. We all understand. And you all do . . . in the beginning.
A few months later, however, the rest of you are starting to show the strain. All your Saturdays have been gobbled up, as have most of your Sundays. You've been working sixty-plus-hour weeks for longer than you thought possible, and your spouses and kids are grumbling. Your laundry is piling up, your bills are unpaid, your vacation plans have been scrapped. Allen, through all this, is still working a forty-hour week. Finally, somebody says what you are all thinking: ''I'm getting pretty sick of carrying Allen.''
What's happened here? A team that was positively humming with the good effects of jell has been pried apart by an overtime policy that could not be applied uniformly to the team members. But the members of good teams are never uniform in any respect, certainly not in their abilities to ''borrow'' time from their personal lives. In almost any team of four or five or six people, there are bound to be a few who can't be expected to put in the kind of overtime that might fit pretty well into some of the others' lives. All that can be shrugged off as unimportant if the overtime is only a matter of a few long evenings and maybe one extra weekend day. But if the overtime drags on over months and starts to exact a real toll on even the most willing team members, there is bound to be damage to team cohesion. The people who aren't sharing the pain will become, little by little, estranged from the others. And the team magic will be gone.
The Last Straw
Extended overtime is a productivity-reduction technique, anyway. The extra hours are almost always more than offset by the negative side effects. This is true even if you don't consider the disruption of the team. When you take into account the way that the team members' differing abilities to work overtime tends to destroy teams, the case against it becomes persuasive.
Most managers have at least a suspicion that overtime doesn't help, that projects that work a lot of overtime are not much of a credit to their managers' skills and talents. But they end up allowing or encouraging overtime, anyway. Why is this? Jerry Weinberg has an answer of sorts: He suggests that we don't work overtime so much as a way to get the work done on time as a way to shield ourselves from blame when the work inevitably doesn't get done on time.
Posted September 2, 2005
Fantastic book about the people side of software development. The ideas in this book, and the typical corporate environment, are worlds apart. My experience has been that managers either don't know this stuff, or if they do know it, then they feel that they would just have to go out on too much of a limb to implement these ideas. This is a shame because most for the concepts in this book are the very things that enable software developers to thrive. One of the main ideas that resonated with me was the idea of giving developers enough private space. I have never been a fan of open plan office space. I think that it works well for some professions, but not all, and certainly not for software developers. Legend has it that Microsoft lets each developer have their own office which they can furnish as they please. One programmer is supposed to have brought in bucket-loads of sand to make his office into a beach ! If you are a Manager then read this book and implement as much as you can. Otherwise buy a copy and leave it on your Managers desk.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 12, 2002
The main goal of this book is that it encourages the software developers and their management to think about they way they create the software. Software development is the ¿research¿, not the ¿production¿, and the stimulus and processes that work well in for example metallurgy will harm software development. The authors show the consequences of borrowing organizational processes from other areas to software. They encourage to focus on the people rather than to process. 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's why I've rated the book 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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.