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Software for Your Head: Core Protocols for Creating and Maintaining Shared Vision [Paperback]

by Jim McCarthy, Michele McCarthy
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 6, 2002 0201604566 978-0201604566 1

Most people have experienced--at least once in their lives--the incomparable thrill of being part of a great team effort. They can remember the unity of purpose they experienced, the powerful passion that inspired them, and the incredible results they achieved. People who have been on a great team can attest that the difference between being on a team with a shared vision and being on a team without one is the difference between joy and misery.

In 1996, Jim and Michele McCarthy, after successful careers leading software development teams at Microsoft and elsewhere, set out to discover a set of repeatable group behaviors that would always lead to the formation of a state of shared vision for any team. They hoped for a practical, communicable, and reliable process that could be used to create the best possible teams every time it was applied. They established a hands-on laboratory for the study and teaching of high-performance teamwork. In a controlled simulation environment, their principle research and teaching effort--the McCarthy Software Development BootCamp--challenged dozens of real-world, high-tech teams to produce and deliver a product. Teams were given a product development assignment, and instructed to form a team, envision the product, agree on how to make it, then design, build, and ship it on time. By repeating these simulations time after time, with the new teams building on the learning from previous teams, core practices emerged that were repeatedly successful. These were encoded as patterns and protocols.

Software for Your Head is the first publication of the most significant results of the authors' unprecedented five-year investigation into the dynamics of contemporary teams. The information in this book will provide a means for any team to create for itself a compelling state of shared vision.



0201604566B09042001

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Software for Your Head: Core Protocols for Creating and Maintaining Shared Vision + Facilitator's Guide to Participatory Decision-Making
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Aimed at forward-thinking software developers and IT managers, Software for Your Head: Core Protocols for Creating and Maintaining Shared Vision provides an innovative set of procedures and reusable "patterns" for improving the way teams work together.

This book's amalgam of the lingo of software patterns and management theory (and even New Age and popular psychology) helps make the text one of the most challenging you'll ever read about team building. Based on the authors' considerable experience with Microsoft and their simulated developer boot camps run with hundreds of teams, this book eschews providing practical evidence drawn from real projects. Instead, it formulates a unique vocabulary of terms, protocols, and patterns that arguably should allow teams to carry out decisions and build better team focus.

The tour of tools and techniques begins with ways of getting individuals to commit totally to their work in teams. (The authors show how individuals can "check in" to work environments or "check out" as necessary.) They offer a set of techniques that can allow teams to work together more effectively, as well as obstacles (or "antipatterns") that can get in the way. Early sections culminate with a "team equals product" philosophy, arguing that highly calibrated teams will produce insanely great software.

A cluster of tips and patterns for better decision making comes next. Here, the Decider pattern offers a step-by-step protocol for voting and resolving disputed items effectively. For anyone stuck in interminable meetings where egos instead of good ideas triumph, such ideas may well help change things. Alignment patterns come next, which allow teams to overcome perceived shortages of people or time to get the job done. The most far-reaching sections here argue that teams need a long-distance vision to drive their work lives. (This is considerably more ambitious than a standard corporate mission statement and involves a guiding principle that will change the world 20 years into the future.) A final, intriguing group exercise walks teams through a protocol to do something "perfect" in a group setting, with steps to refine the "design."

The text closes with appendices covering Core Protocol terminology, as well as the opening statement delivered to participants at the authors' five-day boot camp (where their techniques are played out). The Core Protocols themselves, wittily released under the General Public License as open source, close out this often fascinating book.

Long on theory but consciously short on any practical examples, this title offers an uncompromising vision for getting teams to work together. Though it's doubtful that your average IT department will be able to commit to such a different set of terms for the everyday workplace, Software for Your Head provides a fascinating glimpse into the world of highly committed and collaborative teams written by two legendary ex-Microsofties. --Richard Dragan

Topics covered: Introduction to the Core Protocols (protocols and patterns for team-based development), the "Check In" protocol (for centering team members on work efforts), the "Check Out" protocol (for individual time-outs), the "Passer" pattern (for not participating in group efforts), the "Connection" protocol, problem behaviors (antipatterns: "Too Emotional," "No Hurt Feelings," and "Wrong Tolerance"), additional "Check In" patterns (including "Team = Product," "Self-Care," and the "Greatness Cycle"), "Decider" protocols (for making team decisions), the "Resolution," "Work with Intention," and "Ecology of Ideas" patterns, "Decider" antipatterns (including "Resolution Avoidance," "Turf," and "Team Quackery"), guide to personal and team alignment, patterns and antipatterns for team alignment (including "Investigate," "Web of Commitment," and "Ask for Help"), building shared vision in teams, patterns and protocols for shared vision (including "Metavision" and "Far Vision"), shared vision antipatterns (including "Blinder," "Technicality," and "Recoil"), the "Perfection Game" protocol (for building team vision), appendices for the lexicon of terms used in the Core Protocols, transcript of the authors' boot camp development scenario, the Core Protocols 1.0 and General Public License.

From the Back Cover

At least once in their lives, most people experience the incomparable thrill of being part of a great team effort. Members of successful teams often feel a unity of purpose, powerful passion and inspiration, and a strong sense of accomplishment. People who have been on a great team know that the difference between being on a team with a shared vision and being on a team without one is the difference between joy and misery.

After successful careers leading software development teams at Microsoft and elsewhere, Jim and Michele McCarthy set out to discover a set of repeatable group behaviors that would always lead to a state of shared vision for any team. They hoped to design a practical, communicable, and reliable process that could be used to create the best possible team every time it was applied.

In 1996, Jim and Michele McCarthy established a hands-on laboratory for the study and teaching of high-performance teamwork, and in a controlled-simulation environment challenged dozens of real-world, high-tech teams to produce and deliver a product. The teams were given a product development assignment and instructed to envision the product, agree on how to make it, and then design, build, and ship it on time. Repeating these simulations time after time, with new teams building on the learning of previous teams, core practices emerged that were repeatedly successful. These were encoded as the patterns and protocols that became the "Software for Your Head" included in this book.

Software for Your Head is the first publication of the most significant results of the authors' unprecedented five-year investigation into the dynamics of contemporary teams. This book will give any team the know-how it needs to create its own compelling state of shared vision.



0201604566B12102001

Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 1 edition (January 6, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0201604566
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201604566
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 7.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #665,014 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quiet desperation got you down? January 17, 2002
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you loved Demarco and Lister's PEOPLEWARE but were left feeling powerless about what steps to take at work to make knowledge management better. If you ranged as far as Roger Schwarz's SKILLED FACILITATOR or Argyris's OVERCOMING ORGANIZATIONAL DEFENSES but were left at a loss about how you could apply it all in real time. If you resonated with Peter Drucker's POST CAPITALIST SOCIETY but could not apply his generalizations to daily production of knowledge capital. If any of the above, you will devour this book.
Somehow books on releasing the greatness, beauty, and power of teams, always seem to strike glancing blows on real knowlede worker problems. In fact, most books won't come out and say that they want to change the world. Greatness, beauty, power, and such things come wrapped in such a mess of sociological, cultural, and managerial trouble, most books won't try to prescribe greatness et. al.
Not this one. This one wants it all. World domination in catalyzing teams that concquer. The book is worth its price for its "McCarthyized" sound bites alone. But, this is in fact, genius from another dimension. You may disagree with everything it says, and still read it from cover to cover and profit greatly from constant questioning, provocation, and counter intuitive-examples provided. And there is always the chance, that the McCarthys are right.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Psychology as software specifciation April 5, 2002
Format:Paperback
Books like Software For Your Head are rare. These are books that are so important, timely, and lucid that they transcend the subject they speak about. In this case, McCarthy is covering team psychology practices (protocols), patterns that lead to the delivery of great intellectual creative works, and the anti-patterns that destroy such efforts.
When I first read this book, I was struck with how silly or unnatural (to me) some of the protocols sounded. Always one eager to subvert the dominant paradigm, I usually feel this a sign that the author's saying something worth listening to. Jim's writing style is so matter-of-fact and direct that it contributed to me chuckling repeatedly thinking, "is this guy nuts?", but at the same time driving me to read further -- for all of which he said resonated with me at a deep level.
As you progress through the book, the reasons behind the patterns and protocols become clearer: we live in a world where it is considered ridiculous to express or leverage emotion in the work place, yet emotion is crucial to our nature & to creating works of high value. So -- use a set of practices that legislate the option of using of emotional information in your collaboration.
Of even more value to myself is the book's description of the anti-patterns. It took me quite a while to read this work as I've had to put the book down several times after reading the anti patterns, being so overwhelmed by the accuracy of what was being said, based on all the prior situations I've been in where leaders forced the team, or sometimes the whole company, down the path of perdition.
I can't think of a more important contribution to software development today. Even the agile methodologies like XP are important developments, but they don't go to as deep a level as this book does.
For any software professional or creative team leader, this book comes with my highest recommendation.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Team = Product January 24, 2002
Format:Paperback
This book starts with a basic assumption: Team = Product. The basic idea that the quality of your product will be equal to the quality of the team that builds is common sense, but like much else in the IT industry, no one seems to follow common sense.
Form the base assumption that Team = Product, Jim and Michele McCarthy show us how to construct an environment in which teams connect quickly, gain shared vision, and proceed to ship great product. Using the pattern/anti-pattern approach, they show not only the common failings with in a team, but how to take steps to fix these problems.
I strongly recommend this book to anyone who is feeling the pain of trying to ship a software product on time, on budget. The lessons you learn in this book will set you on the path to vastly improving the quality of your professional life, and the quality of the products you are required to ship.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Getting to results December 4, 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Software For Your Head gives us an insightful look at ourselves. Those of us who have been working on project teams for years and years, always seeking the next process idea that will really make a difference realize that it is not the process that we use that holds us back. Extreme programming, MSF, RAD,RUP, OOAD, PMI, Ad Hoc, Agile, Adaptive, Scrum ... the list goes on and on. Having studied each of these methods and having personally used many, I've found that they each have strenghts. If we would use the process, we'd be more successful. For some reason, perhaps because software that truely adds business value is really elusive we dwell on the process and not what really holds us back. It's us. We don't believe in ourselves and certainly not in each other and certainly not in our users (those footing the bill). I found that SWFH and theCore described within the book, really uncovers what is missing from our projects. It's us. SWFH describes patterns and antipatterns of our behavior. To truely get your hands around this information it requires thoughtful reading, perhaps multiple times. It requires committment to improving the way we work together. It requires committment to improving the way I work, the level and degree of my presence on the job and in life. I love software. I love technology. I love the challenge that SWFH gives me to think about my results. This is an important work and requires accountability. Read it and then read it again.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I Love This Book!
I am not sure how I found Jim's book, but it has had a profound influence on my consulting. I find the Core both fascinating and challenging at the same time and I like that!
Published 19 months ago by Carlton E. Nettleton
2.0 out of 5 stars We're humans, not machines.
Most people don't work the way Jim wants them to, don't think that way, and they never will. There're myriads of things in the way of sanity when developing intellectual assets as... Read more
Published on September 23, 2006 by Vin
1.0 out of 5 stars Some great ideas wrapped in too much padding
I'm a big fan of "Dynamics of Software Development" and I expected this book to be 10 years better than that. It isn't. Read more
Published on April 19, 2005 by IanBren
5.0 out of 5 stars Teams become real
It'is one of the most wonderful books I ever read about teams. What I mostly appreciate is that talks about teams in a language a developer or an engineer can understand (bypassing... Read more
Published on July 29, 2004 by David Papini
4.0 out of 5 stars 8/10
I give this book eight out of ten.
What I like about it:
The ideas in this book have enormous power. Read more
Published on June 26, 2004 by Dr. Neil
4.0 out of 5 stars Software for Your Head
I've read the book and sponsored several of the Boot Camps in a company. The protocols work and they are not just for any IT or high-tech team as some reviewers have noted. Read more
Published on May 14, 2004 by Steven Abernathy
5.0 out of 5 stars Chapter 20 of Peopleware
In Chapter 20 of _Peopleware_ Mr. DeMarco and Mr. Lister tried to list things that would make a team jell. Read more
Published on March 10, 2004 by Keith Sader
3.0 out of 5 stars Presentation needs polish; content is intriguing
The material in this book was derived from years of intense experimentation with real teams. This experimental nature really appealed to me and so I had high hopes for this book. Read more
Published on January 20, 2004 by Timothy Bailen
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Kept Secret in Product Development
I saw Jim speak at a Microsoft Canada Technical Briefing in March of 2000. He talked about patterns and antipatterns. Read more
Published on July 5, 2003 by Vickie Gray
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
As a former co-worker of Jim during his tenure in the C++ team at Microsoft, I was exposed to some of his early work, and I think "The Dynamics of Software Development"... Read more
Published on April 8, 2003
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