- Paperback: 464 pages
- Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 1 edition (January 6, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0201604566
- ISBN-13: 978-0201604566
- Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1 x 8.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 16 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,303,477 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Software for Your Head: Core Protocols for Creating and Maintaining Shared Vision 1st Edition
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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.
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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.
What is promised is a culture of ideas, of mutual support, flow, and grand ambition which is unlocked when you get everyone in the game. This book proscribes certain behaviors toward that end. Teams that intentionally adopt the Core System together will experience these fruits early and often. I've seen it. It is a system, though, just like a car. While wheels, windows, and engines are interesting and somewhat useful on their own, the best utility happens when it all comes together.
My original review was voted "most helpful critical review." I was critical, but, ironically, one of my criticisms was that I wanted more! I liked the ideas and wanted to learn more about their background. At 464 pages, though, maybe it was wise to leave that out. Another criticism was that it can be hard to read. It is and it isn't. I "got" a lot from it right away, but it does have a unique style which invites deeper exploration -- something that I now appreciate.
There is much to be learned here -- this is a magnum opus -- and I recommend this book to people wanting more from work, for people disenfranchised by bureaucracy and mediocrity, and especially to managers who want to do something about it.
This is the book that should have been written in place of that chapter. Devotees of the people side of IT development will find this book useful in diagnosing what's wrong on their team, and they will a good idea of how to start fixing it. This book has probably advanced the sociology of IT teams past where it has been since DeMarco & Lister. Warning, this book is not for the timid, or for those that think the people side of IT is unimportant.
One thing the authors don't make clear is if one has to take their bootcamp course to implement these procedures, or if this book can be used as-is.
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The ideas in this book have enormous power.Read more