Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams

Authors: Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister

I’ve heard praise of this book from many authors and it was referenced in many other software-related books.

After reading this book, I agree with what Joel Spolsky said about this book “This is the book that everyone who runs a software team needs to read and reread once a year. Buy it, Read it, and keep a stock on hand in the office closet”

The book is about managing teams of knowledge workers. It doesn’t matter whether you are a manager or being managed (Knowledge worker). I think everyone should read this. You will learn both sides of it.

If you don’t want to read the book then just remember this line which can summarize the whole book.

The major problems of our work are not so much technological as sociological in nature.

I remember a similar thing shared by the author of The Pragmatic Programmer on their 2nd edition which was published after 20 years.

The question was “What is something in the software industry is not changed from the past 20 years? Or something we still struggle with ?”

The answer was “People problems”.

The book goes into more detail about these problems and how we can solve them. It’s divided into six chapters. I will summarize a few of them here.

  1. Managing the Human Resources.
    This section talks about how managers or organization ignores the human side in developing software. Most of them think the project failed because of technological limitations or blockers. But in reality, it happens because of sociological issues. The major reason for that is treating knowledge workers as people who work in cheeseburger factories where humans are expected to be run as machines as smoothly as possible. Because of this people don’t feel motivated, they don’t see the quality in their work which leads to a lot of miscommunications which leads to other problems, and hence a project fails.
  2. The Office Environment.
    I personally feel that one of the reasons people like remote work is because they cannot get done any work in 9 to 5 in the office (Obviously all offices are not like that but the majority is). One of the major reasons which I’ve personally experienced was noise. The authors went into detail on how should a workplace should be designed physically which gives people and teams their space to work.
  3. Growing Productive Teams.
    The productive teams are jelled teams. They enjoy working with each other than the work itself. Defensive management with unrealistic deadlines without askings teams. Keeping team members physically separate and put them in multiple projects to gain more “productivity”. These are some of the factors which do not allow to create a jelled team. One interesting example was that the team that does not give estimation at all tends to be more productive than teams whose estimation was given by people or the there manager.
  4. Fertile Soil.
    It’s about how the organization can create a culture or workplace to have jelled team, Get new challenges and maintain a work-life balance. It also explains what a manager or organization should not do. Some of which I’ve experienced personally, that are wasting people’s time by having unnecessary meetings or fragmenting people on multiple projects, or filling time with meaningless work, and many more.

A good sign of a manager is that when the team feels they can manage themselves and does not find a need to have a manager.

I highly recommend this book and re-read time to time.

Get it from amazon.

Thank you for taking the time to read my short book summary.

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