Drew's Reviews > Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams

Peopleware by Tom DeMarco
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's review
Mar 21, 08

Read in March, 2008

"The manager's function is not to make people work, but to make it possible for people to work." With that in mind, these two guys share their recommendations, which are obviously useful for project managers at Microsoft (where I heard this book may almost be required reading) but can, I think, also be good reminders for solo workers and grad students--in other words, me.

* Don't ask techie types to cut quality--it's demoralizing and means you can't take pride in doing careful, pleasing work.

* "The only freedom that has any meaning is the freedom to proceed differently from the way your manager would have proceeded. [...] The right to be right (in your manager's eyes or in your government's eyes) is irrelevant; it's only the right to be wrong that makes you free."

* "People require a sense of uniqueness to be at peace with themselves to let the [team] jelling process begin. When management acts to stifle uniqueness, uniqueness happens anyway. People simply express their uniqueness in uncontrolled dimensions. For example, employees who take a perverse pride in being difficult to manage or hard to motivate or unable to work with others may be reacting to too much control. They would almost certainly rather express themselves in some less difficult way, something that would not work to the detriment of the group's effectiveness."

* The teams that are the most fun to be a part of and produce the best work are teams that feel elite. Members know they're part of something bigger and can take pride in contributing their part.

* You can't underestimate the impact of workplace layout. DeMarco and Lister give a great summary of the ideas of Christopher Alexander, my all-time-favorite architecture thinker: give people individual space to customize, have a balance of private work spaces and public space for interaction, make sure that people who work together can work nearby but not on top of one another...

Looking for some advice on how to direct a development group or to just think through your own work style? Take a look at this book!

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