- Paperback: 464 pages
- Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 1 edition (January 6, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0201604566
- ISBN-13: 978-0201604566
- Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 1 x 9.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 20 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #274,472 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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Top customer reviews
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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 I like about it:
The ideas in this book have enormous power. They could (and can) change the way people work with each other for the better.
The book presents the function that team = product. The better the team works together the better the product. This is so obvious and yet gets constantly overlooked.
The patterns and anti patterns of behavior are very well observed and described.
After reading this book the second time I have been to a McCarthy boot camp and the book does an admirable job of describing what is achievable.
I have tried each of the protocols described in this book and I can tell you they rate amongst the best ways I have discovered of helping teams work well together.
The title describes the book well, it takes some time to work this out. It is a clever idea that we can load new software into our brains and therefore become better at doing something - such as interacting with other people (or even ourselves!)
In order to get a ten:
It would be easier to read. The book is written too much like a software manual. The McCarthy's previous book - Dynamics of Software Development - was much easier to read and proved to be very popular with the development teams I introduced it to. Software For Your Head requires commitment to read to the end.
The examples would be clearer. Throughout the book are stories which serve as examples of the ideas being presented. I often have to read these a second time to get the full meaning of them.
For more of Dr. Neil's reviews go to [...]
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.
Yes, there's some pretty deep psychology and maybe a little new age in the text but there's nothing harmful about it at all. The Core protocols are great and I continue to use them all and teach teams these protocols.
The book is a tough read, but worth it. The boot camps are really good and will blow you away.If you really want to jump start a team and get them firing on all cylinders then read the book and get a boot camp quick. It's worth the investment. But I do recommend you ensure it's a fit for your culture. The authors are very knowledgable but will pretty much tell you how it has to be to be successful with the Core and a boot camp. This can be too painful for some organizations but if you really want to change then it may well be for you.