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Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams (Second Edition) Paperback – February 1, 1999
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"Peopleware" is a classic work in its field, and is an easy read - not too long, clearly and engagingly written, relies on well-told anecdotes based on the author's own experiences, and is solidly packed with practical and useful advice. Tables, facts and charts supporting the book's themes are well presented, and the authors are careful to not go beyond what the facts support.
In the second edition, a sixth section, "Son of Peopleware", was added, consisting of 8 new chapters of material expanding on the original edition in light of what the authors have learned in the years since.
The central theme of this book is that teams are not machines, but are composed of people: the human element must always be considered, if not highly valued, to maximize not only your team's productivity and individual team-member job satisfaction (as well as your own), but to maximize your team's value to the organization as a whole. That the title starts with "Peopleware" is no mistake.
Anyone who manages teams in a business environment, regardless of the industry they are in, should read this book.
Hats off to Tom Demarco and Timothy Lister: great job!
One of the ideas in the book is the concept of "flow" - then, years later I read Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (P.S.) - which pretty much sums up some of the same thoughts. Another book that also referred to the concept of flow was Stumbling on Happiness. Also great books.
I still enjoy occasionally re-reading this classic that should be in every developer/manager's collection.
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.
If I was a manager at a typical and mediocre corporation, I would not recommend this book too much-- it is hell fighting against corporate culture. However if you work for the best or you are starting a business and want to be the best, this book is extremely important. (If you are a manager working at a mediocre corporation, start your own business or get hired by a better company after you read this book!)
The main premise of the book is that people matter more than management or technology. Any business leader worth his salt knows these two points, yet most managers or leaders ignore them. This book helps give form to the ideals and specific guidance to get there. It is well recommended to everyone who manages software projects.