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A guest post by Peter Gordon, Publishing Partner, Addison-Wesley Professional. He writes here about one of his newest books, a revision of Tom DeMarco and Tim Lister’s Peopleware. Peter, reflecting an editor’s penchant, notes that peopleware is distinct from peoplewear, the latter referring to colleagues you need to carry on your back to get a job done.

Technical managers read many technical books, which is often necessary and always desirable—necessary to avoid or solve technical problems standing in the way of a successful project, and desirable for those of us who publish such books. But the best software development managers know that there’s more required for success than good programming skills. Tom DeMarco and Tim Lister first pointed this out more than 25 years ago in their classic book, Peopleware. The wherewithal to manage people well, they observed, is at least as important as any other ware in the manager’s arsenal. There were “Aha!” moments for tens of thousands of managers as they digested the insights and advice in this book, moments similar to when they first read Fred Brooks’ The Mythical Man-Month and learned much that they had never thought about before—or, as I suspect, learned some things that they almost knew from experience but couldn’t quite articulate or act upon themselves. I also expect that managers will have such moments with the recently-published book by Mickey Mantle and Ron Lichty—come on, not that Mickey Mantle!—Managing the Unmanageable, especially in the enjoyable rules of thumb the authors have gathered from diverse sources.

Although there is timeless truth in DeMarco and Lister’s initial observation, the software development world has evolved over the years, presenting managers a range of new challenges and opportunities. To address more current development environments, the two have therefore revisited, updated, and expanded their original ideas in a hot-off-the-presses third edition of their book. Read it. It’s important. As one early reviewer put it, the one question he might ask candidates interviewing for a software management position is whether or not they have read this book!

Why, you may ask, if you have familiarity with previous editions of Peopleware, has publication of the third edition moved from Dorset House to the Addison-Wesley imprint of Pearson? Good question, but the answer shouldn‘t be so surprising. We have for years shared authors and goals. Moreover, both publishers were involved in the development of this revision, and will therefore equally pound our chests with pride over the book’s success. We just want as many managers as possible to have access to it, which, for one thing, is where Safari Books Online enters the picture.

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Few books in computing have had as profound an influence on software management as Peopleware. The unique insight of this longtime best seller is that the major issues of software development are human, not technical. They’re not easy issues; but solve them, and you’ll maximize your chances of success.
With a blend of software engineering facts and thought-provoking opinions, Fred Brooks offers insight for anyone managing complex projects. These essays draw from his experience as project manager for the IBM System/360 computer family and then for OS/360, its massive software system. Now, 20 years after the initial publication of his book, Brooks has revisited his original ideas and added new thoughts and advice, both for readers already familiar with his work and for readers discovering it for the first time.
All too often, software development is deemed unmanageable. The news is filled with stories of projects that have run catastrophically over schedule and budget. Although adding some formal discipline to the development process has improved the situation, it has by no means solved the problem. How can it be, with so much time and money spent to get software development under control, that it remains so unmanageable?

Tags: management, project management, technical teams,

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