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Beautiful Teams: Inspiring and Cautionary Tales from Veteran Team Leaders 1st Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 063-6920518020
ISBN-10: 0596518021
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Editorial Reviews

About 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 http://www.stellman-greene.com.

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 http://www.stellman-greene.com.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 510 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (April 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596518021
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596518028
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,337,915 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a brilliant book, capped off with an excellent interview with record producer Tony Visconti, who reveals that the principles behind great teams transcend the genre of software development. From the value of knowing his people to diligent tracking of work charts built by everyone and collaboration in general, it is no surprise that that Tony's experience with musicians sounds a lot like a great software project. He admonishes that we should all devote our downtime to learning new stuff, and this book provides plenty of insights for any of us.

The many contributors step back from advancing their usual prescriptions to celebrate their own successes (and yes, challenges) within teams. In this celebration, they provide some of the best insights that we can carry forward into our own careers.

Whether Jennifer Greene draws wondrous team memories from the ashes of a dot-com failure, Keoki Andrus' shares a healthy respect for innovation and creative play to inspire a team, or engaging stories by Karl Wiegers and many others capture great team experiences, the variety in Beautiful Teams will keep you rapt like few other technical books.
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Format: Paperback
This book is great! It's a very quick read, and it was actually fun! I've been looking for insight into teamwork and software teams, and I was definitely not disappointed. To be honest, going into it I wasn't really sure what to expect. It dives straight into an interview with Tim O'Reilly about leadership, and he immediately starts talking about teams, creativity, design, open source, but in a way that all tied together and made sense. Then came an essay called "Why Ugly Teams Win," by Scott Berkun, who wrote about his experience on a team at Microsoft. I thought the combination of "higher" ideas and practical, real-world experience, right next to each other, worked extremely well.

The book is divided into sections called People, Goals, Practices, Obstacles and Music. When I first saw that, I was surprised by the last section. But it turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the book. It's got an interview with Tony Visconti, and what he says about working with musicians actually made a lot of sense, and I could see exactly why it made sense as the last chapter in the book. All of the chapters stand on their own, and they all make different points about teams. It's easy to just go right through them, from front to end. It's a unique collection, and in my opinion it's definitely worth your time.
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Format: Paperback
Beautiful Teams is a wonderful collection of stories by great names in software about their experiences with teams. From Mike Cohn, Scott Ambler, Grady Booch, Steve McConnell, Scott Berkun, Johanna Rothman, James Grenning... And even a few non-software folks who make the stories that much more compelling because they transcend discipline.

The book is broken into 4 main sections - one each for the primary themes that come up when talking about beautiful teams: People, Goals, Practices, and Obstacles. One of my favorites is Scott Berkun's Why Ugly Teams Win, which proclaims "real heroes are ugly. They are misfits." Citing as examples The Ramones, The Dirty Dozen, and The Bad News Bears. "Once the members of an ugly team have earned each others' trust, they will outperform the rest of any organization."

It's a book that can't help but make you smile as you think of your own experiences with great teams and what makes them so awesome to be part of. I don't know that there's the answer to how to build a beautiful team in here, it is more a book of tales. But it is definitely a topic we will do well to be thinking more about in software development and a fun book to read.

And, again, I love Scott Berkun's advice, "Stop complaining about your coworkers. Instead, get your team and your boss to read Beautiful Teams." Indeed!
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Format: Paperback
This book's a good read and a nice addition to your bookshelf, although its uneven writing style and fractured voice detract from some great tidbits.

Beautiful Teams is a collection of interviews and essays by various folks in and around the software industry. Each chapter is a great interview with folks like Steve McConnell or Scott Ambler, or an essay-like article from Mike Cohn or Corey Doctorow. Chapters are slotted into broad sections dealing with individuals, goals, practices, obstacles, and music - as in how parallels can be drawn between musicians in a band and members of software teams.

The uneven writing style and fractured voice can be somewhat expected since each author wrote their own articles, but tighter editing could have really polished up the chapters and made the book more cohesive. The tone of many of the articles made it seem they were drawn directly from the authors' blogs - another point for having had some tighter editing. I also wished that each chapter had an introduction/bio about the author. While these people are supposed industry leaders, there were quite a few authors I wasn't familiar with, so I was left wondering what their accomplishments were that made them a target to get in the book.

Complaints aside, I got very good value from reading the book. The wisdom in several articles around dealing with team dynamics was exceedingly useful, and I also found it good backup to read industry leaders pointing out it's important to move poor performers or negative influences off teams.
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