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Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams (Second Edition) Paperback – February 1, 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Dorset House Publishing Company, Incorporated; 2nd edition (February 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0932633439
  • ISBN-13: 978-0932633439
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (105 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #337,951 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

The book is a fast, easy read.
Dianne Seaman
This book is HIGHLY recommended for personal reading, distribution to a team, or to your "management" at work.
David Durovy
I cannot overstate just how great this book is!
Sean Kelly

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

226 of 229 people found the following review helpful By David Walker on February 25, 2001
Format: Paperback
Summed up in one sentence, Peopleware says this: give smart people physical space, intellectual responsibility and strategic direction. DeMarco and Lister advocate private offices and windows. They advocate creating teams with aligned goals and limited non-team work. They advocate managers finding good staff and putting their fate in the hands of those staff. The manager's function, they write, is not to make people work but to make it possible for people to work.
Why is Peopleware so important to Microsoft and a handful of other successful companies? Why does it inspire such intense devotion amongst the elite group of people who think about software project management for a living? Its direct writing and its amusing anecdotes win it friends. So does its fundamental belief that people will behave decently given the right conditions. Then again, lots of books read easily, contain funny stories and exude goodwill. Peopleware's persuasiveness comes from its numbers - from its simple, cold, numerical demonstration that improving programmers' environments will make them more productive.
The numbers in Peopleware come from DeMarco and Lister's Coding War Games, a series of competitions to complete given coding and testing tasks in minimal time and with minimal defects. The Games have consistently confirmed various known facts of the software game. For instance, the best coders outperform the ten-to-one, but their pay seems only weakly linked to their performance. But DeMarco and Lister also found that the best-performing coders had larger, quieter, more private workspaces. It is for this one empirical finding that Peopleware is best known.
(As an aside, it's worth knowing that DeMarco and Lister tried to track down the research showing that open-plan offices make people more productive.
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317 of 331 people found the following review helpful By Joel Spolsky on March 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
As summer interns at Microsoft, my friends and I used to take "field trips" to the company supply room to stock up on school supplies. Among the floppy disks, mouse pads, and post-it notes was a stack of small paperback books, so I took one home to read.
The book was Peopleware, by Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister. This book was one of the most influential books I've ever read. The best way to describe it would be as an Anti-Dilbert Manifesto.
Ever wonder why everybody at Microsoft gets their own office, with walls and a door that shuts? It's in there. Why do managers give so much leeway to their teams to get things done? That's in there too. Why are there so many jelled SWAT teams at Microsoft that are remarkably productive? Mainly because Bill Gates has built a company full of managers who read Peopleware. I can't recommend this book highly enough. It is the one thing every software manager needs to read... not just once, but once a year.
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73 of 74 people found the following review helpful By Sean Kelly on December 16, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I cannot overstate just how great this book is!
DeMarco and Lister don't mess around. They go right to the heart of project and team management and tell you exactly what makes one company succeed while so many others fail: it's not technology, it's people.
With reckless abandon, they attack cubicles, dress codes, telephones, hiring policies, and company core hours and demonstrate how managers who are not insecure about their positions, who shelter their employees from corporate politics, who, in short, make it possible for people to work are the ones who complete projects and whose employees have fun doing so. The authors use no-nonsense writing, statistical evidence, and even humorous anecdotes to drive their points home.
While the first edition was as appropriate to today's corporate cultures as it ever was, the authors have added analysis of some of the latest trends in management in this new second edition, and show what's good and what's not. The update includes coverage of the dangers of constant overtime, the stupidity of motivational posters, the side effects of process improvement programs, how to make change possible, and the costs of turnover. As with the rest of the book, all topics receive thorough and thoughtful treatment.
Although the book is weighed heavily towards software engineering projects, you'll find that much of what DeMarco and Lister say apply to projects where creativity and analytical skills are required. If you're a manager of such a project, consider this book required reading before you do anything else today. If you're a team member on such a project, buy a copy for your boss, and an extra one for your boss's boss.
One final note: I'd wager that Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, must use this book as inspiration for his comic strip. Dilbert's encounters with his moronic boss and idiotic company policies seem to come right from the pages of Peopleware's advice on what not to do.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Charles Ashbacher HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 29, 1999
Format: Paperback
Programming languages come and go with an occasional paradigm shift thrown in. However, the thought processes and the mental gyrations needed to complete large software projects remain largely unchanged in the decade since the first edition of this book was published. Unfortunately, management skills also remained stagnant as well. In this book, the authors lay out the ugly truth as to why much of software development fails. It is not a lack of technical or technological competence on the part of developers, but a strong tendency by management to treat programmers as mere code generators possessing accelerator buttons. Simply prod, bribe, threaten, cajole or berate them and the button is pressed causing them to work overtime with a smile, with no associated loss of productivity. The authors lay out examples of all of these techniques.
Quality developers must possess a great deal of originality, creativity and pride in what they do. Destroy that using the techniques listed in this book and the consequences are obvious. Even brown, scorched earth looks green by comparison and the quality people depart. A large percentage, perhaps even the majority, of software development projects fail. Many studies support the position that it is largely a failure of middle management. Millions of dollars could be saved if all who fall into that category would read this book and have the courage to act on what they read. Unfortunately, that will probably not happen. After all, the authors did come out with a second edition, didn't they?
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