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Shipman's software books: Peopleware

De Marco, Tom, and Timothy Lister. Peopleware. Dorset House. 2nd edition, February 1999. ISBN 0932633439.

As my mentor Dr. John Slimick once remarked, this is the kind of book that won't be read by the people who need it the most---software managers. A pity, too, because this is the best single work I know on software productivity.

Vital, positive, effective antidotes for organizational pathogens. Good stuff on the productivity impacts of:

Management theories and styles

One of the best managers I ever had in my 13 years in industry was John Welsch, at Hewlett-Packard in the early 1970s. He used to say that there is no way to motivate people, but if one can refrain from demotivating them, and give them interesting and rewarding work and the tools they need to do it, they'll motivate themselves.

When you look at an organization chart, imagine that bullshit is generated at all levels of management, and due to gravity it flows downward toward the actual workers in the trenches. As a first-level manager, you can be a funnel or an umbrella. The latter is much better for productivity.

See also my organizational behavior pages, especially Have Fun at Work.

The physical environment

This point is a particularly sore one with me. I agree with the author that the cost of providing a good physical environment is much less than the cost of low productivity caused by a bad one.

Here's my list of critical environmental features for productive software design work:


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John W. Shipman, john@nmt.edu
Last updated: 1999/05/09 18:12:54
URL: http://www.nmt.edu/~shipman/reading/peopleware.html