Waltzing with Bears: Managing Risk on Software Projects [NOOK Book]


This is the digital version of the printed book (Copyright © 2003).

If There’s No Risk On Your Next Project, Don’t Do It.


Greater risk brings greater reward, especially in software development. A company that runs away from risk will soon find itself lagging behind its more adventurous competition. By ignoring the threat of negative outcomes–in the name of positive ...

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Waltzing with Bears: Managing Risk on Software Projects

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This is the digital version of the printed book (Copyright © 2003).

If There’s No Risk On Your Next Project, Don’t Do It.


Greater risk brings greater reward, especially in software development. A company that runs away from risk will soon find itself lagging behind its more adventurous competition. By ignoring the threat of negative outcomes–in the name of positive thinking or a can-do attitude–software managers drive their organizations into the ground.


In Waltzing with Bears, Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister–the best-selling authors of Peopleware–show readers how to identify and embrace worthwhile risks. Developers are then set free to push the limits.


The authors present the benefits of risk management, including that it makes aggressive risk-taking possible, protects management from getting blindsided, provides minimum-cost downside protection, reveals invisible transfers of responsibility, isolates the failure of a subproject.


Readers are armed with strategies for confronting the most common risks that software projects face: schedule flaws, requirements inflation, turnover, specification breakdown, and under-performance.


Waltzing with Bears will help you mitigate the risks–before they turn into project-killing problems. Risks are out there–and they should be there–but there is a way to manage them.


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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780133492231
  • Publisher: Pearson Education
  • Publication date: 7/29/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 725,045
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Tom Demarco and Timothy Lister are principals of The Atlantic Systems Guild (www.systemsguild.com), a consulting firm specializing in the complex processes of system building, with particular emphasis on the human dimension. Together, they have lectured, written, and consulted internationally since 1979 on management, estimating, productivity, and corporate culture.


Tom is the author or coauthor of nine books on subjects ranging from development methods to organizational function and dysfunction, as well as two novels and a book of short stories. His consulting practice focuses primarily on expert witness work, balanced against the occasional project and team consulting assignment. For the past three years, he has been teaching undergraduate ethics at the University of Maine. He lives with his wife, Sally O. Smyth, in Camden, Maine.


Tim divides his time among consulting, teaching, and writing. Based in Manhattan, Tim is coauthor, with Tom DeMarco, of Adrenaline Junkies and Template Zombies: Understanding Patterns of Project Behavior (Dorset House, 2008), written with four other principals of The Atlantic Systems Guild, and Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams,Third Edition (Addison-Wesley, 2013). He is a member of the IEEE, the ACM, and the Cutter IT Trends Council, and is a Cutter Fellow.

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Table of Contents

Prologue: The Ethics of Belief         3


PART I: WHY         7


Chapter 1: Running Toward Risk         9


Chapter 2: Risk Management Is Project Management for Adults        15


Chapter 3: Denver International Airport Reconsidered         22


Chapter 4: The Case for Risk Management         29


PART II: WHY NOT         35


Chapter 5: The Case Against Risk Management         37


Chapter 6: The Onus of Uncertainty        42


Chapter 7: Luck          46


PART III: HOW         51


Chapter 8: Quantifying Uncertainty         53


Chapter 9: Mechanics of Risk Management        60


Chapter 10: Risk Management Prescription         73


Chapter 11:. Back to Basics         80


Chapter 12: Tools and Procedures        91


Chapter 13: Core Risks of Software Projects         101


Chapter 14: A Defined Processfor Risk Discovery         113


Chapter 15: Risk Management Dynamics        121


Chapter 16: Incrementalism for Risk Mitigation        128


Chapter 17: The Ultimate Risk Mitigation Strategy       138


PART IV: HOW MUCH        143


Chapter 18: Value Quantification        147


Chapter 19: Value Is Uncertain, Too          151


Chapter 20: Sensitivity Analysis           156


Chapter 21: Value Offsets Risk         160


Chapter 22: Refining the Risk Management Prescription           164


PART V: WHETHER OR NOT         169


Chapter 23: Test for Risk Management         171


Appendix A: The Ethics of Belief, Part 1         175


Appendix B: Risk Template         181


References          183


Index         191

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2003

    Entertaining and Valuable

    Reading Tom Demarco and Tim Lister is a pleasure. It is so clear that these two authors set out to teach something they believe to be valuable, and all of their effort is directed toward making that valuable thesis accesible to the reader. There is no showing off, no saying, 'Look how smart I am.' Their books clearly say, 'Our many years of experience have taught us some useful stuff and provided us with lots of valuable data. We have put a lot of effort into analyzing that data and we will try as hard as we can to help you understand our analysis. Our objective is make it as clear and as entertaining as we can,' and they do. Their explanations are always clear. Their examples are invariably both helpful and entertaining. What they have to say is always important. 'Walzing with Bears' is no exception, and even if you should disagree with parts of the book, their arguments will force you to think about critical aspects of management that you may not have previously considered. Reading the first few chapters, my only criticism was that they seemed to be oversimplifying some issues. Reading on, I realized that it was a deliberate and brilliant part of their teaching technique. In later chapters, the book carefully added the complexities that covered more and more of my early reservations in ways that made them easily understandable. It's a terrific book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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