Review: Peopleware, Productive Projects and Teams

PeoplewareHere we go for a review of Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams, 2013 (1st edition in 1987) by Tom DeMarco, Tim Lister. Another long overdue review since I read the book twice again since I first decided to write this review.

This is a book about teams of software developers, what makes them produce exceptional software and how (for the management) to avoid being in their way of such a noble aim. To me, this is also the logical sequel to the Mythical Man Month (reviewed here a few years ago).

The core idea is that developing a software product is an intellectual work (of communication and reflection) in an environment (market and technology) that is changing fast.

I would group the other main ideas in the following categories:

  • software projects are unlike traditional ones
  • teams and motivations
  • creativity and change management

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Review: Individuals and interactions

In my recent exploration of software project management literature, I decided to look for answers to a question about Agile methodologies that has been bothering me for some time: the Agile Manifesto struck and somehow seduced me first and foremost because of its first statement: “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools” but all bits and pieces that I could read about Agile methodologies revolved around test-harnesses, continuous integration, sprints, iterations, daily scrums, kanban, stand-up meetings, etc. In short: it seemed to me that all agile-related resources were centered on processes and tools !

There’s an easy explanation for this situations: obviously processes are easier to describe, criticize and refine for the technical crowd I’m part of and, after all, the “agile processes” are designed to encourage interactions and relieve people from the inevitable dark side of software developments (bugs, requirement changes etc).

But still this puts “processes first” assuming that people will benefit from it in the second place, and that’s this kind of contradiction that motivated me to look for an “agile” book dedicated to the “human” aspects of agile methods, and ultimately to read: Individuals and interactions: An Agile Guide by Ken Howard, Barry Rogers.

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