- Paperback: 248 pages
- Publisher: Dorset House (March 3, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0932633676
- ISBN-13: 978-0932633675
- Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.4 x 0.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 23 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,305,749 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Adrenaline Junkies and Template Zombies: Understanding Patterns of Project Behavior
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"Another masterpiece from the folks who brought you Peopleware. Anyone who has survived a software project or two will surely recognize many of these patterns and will be able to learn from most of them. Adrenaline Junkies and Template Zombies is a real joy." --Joel Spolsky, author of Joel on Software
"Who else but these particular authors could mine 150 years of software team experience to capture memorable names for oft-encountered situations? I suspect you will start using these phrases in your work--I already have." --Alistair Cockburn, author of Agile Software Development
"utterly delightful collection of essays about 86 'project patterns' . . . These 'patterns' are grimly familiar to anyone who has worked in project-related organizations; and unfortunately, they can be found in small companies as well as large ones. Fortunately, some of the patterns ('Rattle Yer Dags' and 'Nanny,' for example) are good ones, and should be encouraged. Sadly, though, far too many of them ('Dead Fish,' 'Project-Speak') are not only depressingly familiar, but astonishingly destructive to productivity, quality, and the morale of the project team. . . . I really love this book, not the least because each pattern can be read and understood in a moment or two, since they take only 2-3 pages to explain. . . . If Adrenaline Junkies and Template Zombies gets the attention it deserves, Scott Adams may have to return to Corporate America and get an honest job as a project manager." --Ed Yourdon, author of Death March
About the Author
If your organization builds systems of any kind, chances are that some of the methods and approaches that it uses came originally from the Atlantic Systems Guild. Collectively, the authors have published nearly twenty previous books, including Peopleware, Mastering the Requirements Process, The Deadline, Essential Systems Analysis, Waltzing With Bears, and Process for System Architecture and Requirements Engineering.
Top customer reviews
Some are good patterns, others are anti-patterns, however which is which is not clear in the beginning of the chapter.
Each chapter is a good reading, and a is a lesson on project management, however the book, as a whole, lacks consistency or organization.
It kind of looks like the linear printing of a very good web site/hypertext.
Sometimes when I have a discussion @ work, I start laughing a little bit because I get the feeling that a couple of pattern zombies are around me.
Reflects the culture of some corporations in US.
Each pattern is presented with a title, a picture, a one- or two-sentence summary, and a few pages describing the pattern in more depth. This format works pretty well, and the book is both funny and very easy to read. However, when I finished reading the book and asked myself what I had learnt from it, I had to answer "Not much".
That's not to say it's a bad book, just that if you have been working in software development projects for a few years, there aren't that many new insights here. However, the book does a good job of singling out and labelling various project behaviours (usually bad ones), which is useful.
Of all the patterns in the book, the ones I liked the best were "The Blue Zone", "Practicing Endgame", "Mañana" and "Time Removes Cards from your Hand".
"The Blue Zone" describes the green zone, which is anything that is explicitly ordered or allowed by the project, and the red zone, which is anything explicitly forbidden. The blue zone is everything else, activities that are neither explicitly allowed, nor explicitly forbidden by the scope of the assignment. In the authors' opinion (and in mine, too), it is good to sometimes operate in the blue zone, in addition to in the green zone, in order to achieve the best outcome. Or, in the words of the quote ending the pattern: "The correct amount of anarchy on a project is not zero".
In "Practicing Endgame", the idea is that you should be thinking about and testing against your release criteria continuously, as opposed to leaving that till the end. The analogy given in this pattern is that of the university course, where you may have several tests throughout the term, in addition to the final exam. This "continuous" exam preparation gives better results than the one-off method of only having the final exam.
The last two of the patterns I liked the most both deal with time.
"Mañana" simply states that if your goal date is more than 30 to 90 days out, you need to set sub-goals that are within 30 to 90 days, in order to make the people on the project feel the right sense of urgency.
"Time Removes Cards from your Hand" describes how you have fewer and fewer options the longer you pretend that everything is fine, even though things are not fine. You might end up with many half-finished features, instead of a few completely finished features, and it might not be the most urgently needed features.
Except for the concept of the blue zone, which I like and which I had never seen explicitly described before, even the patterns I liked are not really teaching me a lot that I didn't already know.
In fact, if you are using agile methods like XP or Scrum, then you will recognize a lot of the patterns and advice as standard agile working procedures ("Straw Man" is another example of this).
On the other hand, there are a number of examples of anti-patterns from (it seems) process-heavy larger companies, for example "False Quality Gates" (documents are check for format, not contents), "Paper Mill" and "Orphaned Deliverables" (both deal with places where the measure of progress is documents, not working software), and "Cider House Rules" (rules are made by people unconnected to the project).
When it comes to the names given to the different patterns, there are some hits and some misses. A name that is both catchy and describes the pattern in a good way makes the pattern so much easier to remember. My favourite is "Template Zombies", which I think is pretty self-explanatory, but "One Throat to Choke" is also very good. But naming is hard, and there are many patterns that I feel have pretty awkward or non-descript names, like "Lease your soul" (about how to adopt new technology - I'm thinking more in terms of a tool-box than selling/leasing your soul to some new technology) and "System Development Lemming Cycle" (that the process used isn't tailored - but where did the lemmings come from?).
Another complaint is that the different patterns presented in the book are not organized around themes - instead they are just put in random order. I would have preferred if they were grouped together, since many of the patterns deal with related concepts.
So, in summary, the patterns in the book cover many different project behaviours. The descriptions are useful and well written, but if you have been involved in software development projects for a while, most of the patterns should already be familiar to you. Still, they may serve as a useful reminder - plus, you get (in many cases) snappy names for some of the behaviours, which may make them easier to diagnose and talk about.
Also, if you're interested in this book, check out episode 131 at Software Engineering Radio. That podcast is an interview with Tom DeMarco and Peter Hruschka about this book, and it is well worth listening to.