Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork, and the Myth of Total Efficiency Paperback – April 9, 2002
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
"An irreverent counterpoint to treatises about corporate efficiency. Brisk, compelling, and hard to put down." –Financial Executive
"Tom DeMarco goes after one of the most pervasive and pernicious myths of business--that humans are efficient the same way machines are. Slack will change the way you manage and understand your business." –David Weinberger, author of The Cluetrain Manifesto
"In times of many layoffs, shrinking staffs, vanishing 'think time,' middle managerial heads rolling, and mounting pressure to produce more faster . . . there are few limits on who can get some thoughts from [Slack].” –CNN.com
From the Inside Flap
If your company's goal is to become fast, responsive, and agile, more efficiency is not the answer--you need more slack.
Why is it that today's superefficient organizations are ailing? Tom DeMarco, a leading management consultant to both Fortune 500 and up-and-coming companies, reveals a counterintuitive principle that explains why efficiency efforts can slow a company down. That principle is the value of slack, the degree of freedom in a company that allows it to change. Implementing slack could be as simple as adding an assistant to a department and letting high-priced talent spend less time at the photocopier and more time making key decisions, or it could mean designing workloads that allow people room to think, innovate, and reinvent themselves. It means embracing risk, eliminating fear, and knowing when to go slow. Slack allows for change, fosters creativity, promotes quality, and, above all, produces growth.
With an approach that works for new- and old-economy companies alike, this revolutionary handbook debunks commonly held assumptions about real-world management, and gives you and your company a brand-new model for achieving and maintaining true effectiveness.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
I totally disagree with the one bad reviewer who claims the book is below the bar of even anecdotal, and boring. On the contrary, much of what is argued here is a logical, or purely rhetorical position, but that is the part that is the most refreshing! Whereas Peopleware may be more comprehensive, it is also less bold and rhetorically less daring. I love to see someone like DeMarco, who has proven all he needs to, instead of just churn out another episode in his established realm, provoke, argue, and show the amount of passion this book contains. Only someone who considers rhetoric sinful could find this book boring.
That said, this book is also not from left field: it owes a lot to Lean, et al, on the biz and IT process side, and it is also of a piece with other writings like Mythical Man Month. Personally, I think the most important thing about this book is that it is original in its approach and size, etc.: computer science, folks, is not a science, and the fact that it has been controlled by science people all these years, is one of the reasons it has denied many of the hugely important aspects of its reality, e.g. psychology, sociology, etc. We desperately need more books like this that are broadly rhetorical, small, quick reads, that can penetrate into the more densely forested parts of the realm.
For knowledge work, I generally agree with his main points, and I have gained some inspiration in some other areas as well (for example, some specific cases where matrix management might actually be optimal).
However, some other reviewers have misunderstood DeMarco's main point. Efficiency and flexibility are opposite ends of the spectrum. If you want real agility, you have to give up some efficiency, and the opposite is true too. This isn't a matter of work less and get more done (aside from issues of long-term overtime, where it is a valid point) but rather work a little less and regain some capacity to change direction.
The second point though is that without slack, one cannot adequately manage risks. This slack not only gives you the ability to change direction to avoid risks, but it provides you with extra resources to overcome temporary and unexpected challenges.
In general, I think these are important points and I think that most companies would do well to at least consider these two points.
I have long believed the drive to long hours with people working under the gun and advocating multi-tasking in business is fundamentally flawed. Tom shows good basics and data to clearly illustrate why these practices can get you into trouble if not managed. Kanban usage in software was not in vogue when Tom wrote this book, but it it is a good methodology to help put many of this ideas into practice.
If you manage software teams this is a MUST read in my opinion
This concept is promoted by Eliyahu Goldratt and his Theory of Constraints and in his books like The Goal. Goldratt argued that in in the case of discrete manufacturing-where individual goods are produced in a continual but not continuous process through the discrete application of heterogeneous transformations-as the utilization (or efficiency) of the individual steps approaches their maximum, the productivity (or throughput) of the system as a whole approaches a minimum. Now, knowledge work (like software development - my industry) looks a lot like discrete manufacturing. You have a set of inputs of varying quality: requirements, best practice documents, etc. In a factory, the machines that perform a step in the manufacturing process often differ - they could be different models, have different maintenance histories, have different tolerances with regards to inputs or throughput, or produce at different levels of quality. Tom DeMarco reminds us that knowledge workers are similarly not fungible. Not only does each individual have their own specialties and deficits but people have task switching costs analogous to the set up costs with factory machines.
Anyway, this is my desert island management book - the one that's all depth with none of the fluff, and the one that I study for guidance with each management challenge.