- Paperback: 160 pages
- Publisher: Dorset House Publishing Company, Incorporated (January 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0932633471
- ISBN-13: 978-0932633477
- Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #844,534 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Amplifying Your Effectiveness: Collected Essays
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"Successful software consultants present powerful ideas on how software engineers can be more effective." -- SciTech Book News
About the Author
A highly influential lecturer and consultant, Gerald M. Weinberg is author, coauthor, or editor of fifteen Dorset House books.
Tester, developer, speaker, consultant, and writer James Bach is founder and principal of Satisfice, Inc., based in Front Royal, Virginia.
Popular speaker and consultant Naomi Karten offers people-oriented perspectives and practical techniques. She is the author of Managing Expectations and editor of a newsletter, Perceptions & Realities.
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The essays are presented in four parts: "empowering the individual", "improving interpersonal interactions", "mastering projects", and "changing the organization". Based on the number of dog ears following the reading of this book, this reviewer especially enjoyed parts one and four, and essays "Do I Want to Take this Crunch Project?" by Sharon Marsh Roberts and Ken Roberts, and "Modeling Organizational Change" by Esther Derby. In the first, Roberts and Roberts draw a distinction between "crunch projects" and "pseudo-crunch projects" and how to navigate the circumstances surrounding each type of project. While Edward Yourdon's "Death March" (see my review) discusses crunch projects at length, the authors here simplify the definition of crunch project by explaining that these types of project exhibit two requirements or constraints: (1) "there are major negative consequences if the project's deadline is not met", and (2) "given the constraints of the project, the allocated resources (time, money, or people) are significantly smaller than those required to fulfill the needs of the sponsor and the customers". The ability to distinguish between the crunch project and pseudo-crunch project is important because commensurate recognition is awarded to those who complete crunch projects, but few will acknowledge efforts of the team toward a pseudo-crunch project. Not only do pseudo-crunch projects typically exhibit "pseudo-deadlines" where internal management picks a date, but there are no significant impacts on profits or external relationships if the date is missed, pseudo-crunch projects bring by their very nature personal loss and no balancing gain.
In "Modeling Organizational Change", Derby explains that when a problem exists in the way a work group functions, confronting that problem necessitates organizational change, and "by taking a critical look at your process and using some theories from organizational design, you can fix that problem - and improve your organization's ability to deliver high-quality results". Because even small systems are very complex, any action in this regard can affect more than one variable in the system, so understanding the interplay of these factors and identifying the manner in which one desires to guide the system in a particular direction are important when designing organizational change. The relatively simple examples that Derby provides to explain circular causation and corrective action are written well, and the example and accompanying diagrams that she walks through are effective in explaining her points. Other essays that this reviewer especially enjoyed were (3) "Solving Other People's Problems" by Don Gray, where the author explains "The Pause Principle", "The Pay Attention Principle", "The Partnership Principle", "The Passion Principle", and "The Person Principle", (4) "The Perils of Parallel Projects" by Johanna Rothman, where the author discusses context switching alongside a table from Weinberg's "Quality Software Management, Volume 1" that exhibits data on how much time is truly available to an individual splitting their time across multiple projects, and (6) "Life as a Software Architect" by Bob King, where the author offers a discussion of the software architect role that explains what helps him avoid what he calls the "technical trap" - three metrics called "The Visibility Ratio", "The Conflict Metric", and "The Anxiety Metric".
The book itself focuses on introducing the authors (hence the preceding) and their topics that cover four divrse areas of people effectiveness problems: Empowering the Individual, Improving Interpersonal Interactions, Mastering Projects and Changing the Organization.
My reason for reading this book was to focus on the articles written by James Bach and Jerry Weinberg for their relevance to software testing. As it so happens James Bach writes two essays on testing: The Role of Testing and Good Practice Hunting. Jerry Weinberg writes one essay about teams: Congruent Interviewing by Audition.
At 135 pages (excluding Bios) it's definitely worth picking up and scanning through at your leisure. Quick and informative read on people-oriented challenges for software engineers.
- Don Gray: "Solving Other People's Problems"
- S.M. & K. Roberts: "Do I want to Take This Crunch Project?"
- Gerald Weinberg: "Congruent Interviewing by Audition"
- Johanna Rothman: "It's Just the First Slip"
Although the critical reader may find some other sections offering commonplace or occasional misguided advice, the whole book is stimulating and easy to read in one sitting. Recommended for your project-management shelf.