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Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams
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Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  7,305 ratings  ·  414 reviews
Two of the computer industry's most popular authors and lecturers return with a new edition of the software management book that started a revolution.With humor and wisdom drawn from years of management and consulting experience, DeMarco and Lister demonstrate that the major issues of software development are human, not technical -- and that managers ignore them at their p ...more
Paperback, Second Edition, 245 pages
Published January 1st 1999 by Dorset House Publishing Company, Incorporated (first published January 1st 1987)
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4.16  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,305 ratings  ·  414 reviews

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Ben Haley
Mar 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
Peopleware is something of a classic in the world of Development management and it makes sense why. The book is straightforward, short, practical and influential. Below I have summarized some of the major points of the book:

1. First ask: should it be done at all?
2. Protect your workers personal lives
3. Turnover is an expense which is seldom measured. Moving causes turnover. Training prevents turnover.
4. Workers will work for quality, to be and make the best.
5. Interruption is expensive for mind
Guilherme Ferreira
Feb 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A must-read, one of the best books I have ever read. I recommend it for everyone that would wishing get out from the comfort zone in our development. This book presents the forgot notion that people are the core of development process. And the most incredible fact of this book is that he has more than forty years since his first publication and keeps unknown for a great part of our managers.
Aug 24, 2011 rated it it was ok
Got on my wish list via amazon lists, and based on the title "Peopleware", I thought it focussed a lot more on people interaction and how they act and react, and shape up to be a team. What I got was a book full of tips & tricks for large scale organizations on how to tell managers not to disturb people who are working.

The whole book can be summed up in one sentence: Managers work by letting other people work - they need to simply keep off al disruptive events so the team can do it's "thing
Natasha Hurley-Walker
Dec 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Excellent. Must-read for anyone who manages, or is being managed. I now have a better feel for just why I hate my cubicle so much, and how it's not just impacting my work today, but my entire career, by dampening my creativity. I have to listen to music to drown out the background noise, and this occupies my right brain to the point where I'm probably missing some really clever shortcuts and insight in my work. "You'll get nothing done here between 9 and 5" really resonated with me: the most pro ...more
Nov 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
DeMarco/Lister sound so reasonable that it's hard not to take their theories as facts, but it's mostly anecdotal and should be taken with a grain of salt. In particular, some things that they treats as "teamicidal" are useful for other reasons.

I think clarifying how information is passed around in an organization would be useful–they point at it when they mention "coaching" but could be more explicit.

In general, a good book, and if you're a software engineer or a software engineering manager you
Sergey Shishkin
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I've heard praise of this book for many years but didn't get around to read it. It does indeed deserve all its praise of being a must read for managers in IT and other knowledge work. Especially considering its first edition came out in 1987, more than 30 years ago. I can only guess how radical it appeared back then. More surprising is why most managers in the mainstream industry have been happily ignoring authors' advice and instilling interrupt- and deadline-driven teamicide culture in their o ...more
Viktor Malieichyk
I would say that this is an essential read for everyone. And it doesn't matter whether you manager or being managed. This book in a very concise and straightforward manner tells about building successful and effective teams. And while there is no single recipe for building a great team, it could help find and eliminate obstacles in this way.
Not once while reading this book I wanted to shout "I knew it!", because somewhere deep I felt that open space is the best way to kill productivity or that
Richard Jeong
Apr 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: managers, workers,
Written for software developers in a project sense, it is of much more global impact to skills managers & leaders need. This is the reference book (among several) that any working person should read, as it provides insight into how our managers can work better and how eventually we can be better managers. The snapshot it provides is the reference managers need to work effectively.

What DeMarco and Lister have provided is what could be read as a field manual for managers. Indeed if you conside
Arvydas Sidorenko
Oct 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: english
It is basically a sociology within teams and projects with many great examples from real world and psychology applied. If you are in a management position I would say this is a must read gem for you. Author has great critical thinking and writes about workplaces, teams and projects in sometimes even radical way.

When it comes to work, I always used to put technology over everything, but it convinced me that sociology > technology. It is supposed to be productive, satisfying fun to work. If it
Yury Averkiev
Oct 31, 2010 rated it really liked it
I wish two of my bosses had read this book back in the 1999
Michał Szajbe
Jan 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A true must-read for every aspiring team manager. Insightful and inspiring. I will surely be coming back to this book very often.
Juan Ignacio
Better read at my technical blog


Peopleware is a book about sociology within software companies. The thesis is that projects fail because of “social” reasons, not technical ones.

Part I focuses on the individual. You must understand his or her motivations and perceptions to be able to act accordingly. What people builds, and how is it done (quality, deadlines…) has a huge impact on motivation.

Part II disembowels current trend of nasty open spaces at offices, and offers many improvements ove
Oct 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Quick read. Message is very clear (no longer new).

Just make sure to differentiate between the data being offered and the opinions of the writers.

I like that they touch quite a lot of subjects, though on the ones where I'm like 'Yeah! Now what kind of solutions are out there?' they fall a bit short, saying, we don't really know either. So I guess, in a way, that's also not a bad thing for me.
Caolan McMahon
Jun 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
A few interesting and thought-provoking ideas plus plenty of 'common sense' stuff too. The studies and examples cited are a bit dated now (80's), but much of it remains relevant... if anything we've doubled-down on some of the mistakes we were making then.

Although many chapters will not be surprising there's still value in a well organised list of things you know but may have forgotten to consider. It mostly avoids the management book waffle at the start but loses discipline towards the end.

Nov 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A great book on office culture and how to build a work culture that is fun and productive. I will definitely try to action some of the points in this book, and definitely worth reading again in the future to remind myself of some of the points. Love it.
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I wish most managers read this book and regarded it as basics of clean and healthy management style. Though to a certain level some of the examples and suggestions sound a bit unrealistic, it's worth reading anyway, just to know that somewhere at certain time there were adequate people.
Clark Mullen
Aug 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful book. Covers many principles we know to be true on some deep level, yet are often forgotten or ignored.

Full of wisdom, kindness, and gentleness. Deeply inspiring. It has influenced how I think and help shape the goals for my life and career.
May 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
very practical book with many examples of bad and good workspaces and work-cultures.
Pedro Almeida
Apr 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
From a book of this age, it’s amazing some analysis of the status quo, the point of view and some proposals. It was a cool read!
Gustavo Leiva
Feb 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the main arguments this book makes is that the success in management of technology teams is not mainly about technology itself but rather about sociology.
The book describes a few areas unrelated to technology that are perceived to have an impact on how productive/happy a team can be.
In some cases it elaborates too much on certain areas, such as open space vs team rooms(author is against open space office for technology teams). In other topics the author covers them with a good enough lev
Vladislav Gomzyakov
Mar 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business
What a great book with insights on management and team work in general! My favourite ideas include the following.

Work gets done be real people who are much more than their functions within a company. Building successful teams of people who are happy to work together in an environment that is not indifferent to them is what makes real success possible. Treating people as disposable is a losing strategy in the long term.

Cookie cutter approach and rampant standardization of human behavior rules and
Aug 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Bigger projects have a higher probability of failure, typically 25% compared to 15% for smaller projects. The biggest cause of failure is sociology. We worry about the technical but rarely about the sociology issues.

In a production environment, it’s convenient to think of people as parts of the machine. When a part wears out, you get another. The replacement part is interchangeable with the original. You order a new one, more or less, by number.

This might be the case in a production line but thi
Justin Dugger
Dec 11, 2011 rated it liked it
(2nd edition from 1999).

First off, this is not a book summarizing personal psychology for industry managers. It is much closer to a blog turned book, on the subject of large software organization management. It is light on citations; for example, chapter 15 covers interviewing and hiring, but has zero citations, even though a survey paper on the subject "The Validity and Utility of Selection Methods in Personnel Psychology" was published the year prior, and went on to earn multiple thousand cita
Scott Lerch
Jan 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: computerscience
This was a surprisingly fun read as I saw the confirmation and application of the ideas presented in my day-to-day working experience. The biggest take-aways I got were: it's best to organize small teams in quiet offices; allow the team to shoot for perfection instead of letting the schedule dictate the quality of the product; and hire the best people and do whatever you need to make them happy. The best part about this book is that most of the ideas were backed up with actual data, something yo ...more
Du Nguyen
Nov 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
Peopleware by Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister is a book about managing software teams and perhaps also managing knowledge workers.
The authors were interested in writing books about management because they experienced a lot of mismanaged teams themselves. They chose to write a management book about a different subject than most management books, that is, about the people instead of methodologies and techniques.

The book is extremely easy to read through. Each of the 39 chapters are short, direct an
Dec 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Classic of software engineering that no one seems to read. Otherwise working as a programmer wouldn't be so horrible. Don't get me wrong, one should not use this book as an instruction manual, rather, one should always keep in mind the key part of the book: most problems in our domain are inherently social, rather than technical.

This key insight is being overshadowed more and more by the vile trend wherein programmers refer to themselves as "hackers", geniuses turned programmers who solve everyt
Jan 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
An absolute must read for anyone who works with engineers. The premise of the book is something I want to nail to my wall, in size 200 font: We spend most of our time managing technical aspects of projects, when most issues that lead to project failure are human, not technical.

I'll re-read this once a year.

With that said, I do have one gripe - A large chunk of the book is dedicated to environment & office space. While this was and is surely cutting edge stuff to a number of very large softwa
Muhammad Khan
Personally I think the works of DeMarco & Lister should all go down in the annals of software literature. Whilst writing from their experiences that date back to the 70s/80s, their propositions have indeed stood the test of time. Take for example this excellent work, Peopleware, 1st edition in 1987 followed by 2nd edition in 1997, and now 25 years later (2012) the subject is still very much fresh and relevant to modern day software management. The challenges still remain, companies are still ...more
Jul 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The ultimate sin in management us wasting people's time."

Peopleware approaches computing project management from a sociological perspective, attempting to understand the roles played by workers and middle management. It correctly chastises what the authors perceive as an excessive focus on technology -- when actually most software development is far from working with bleeding-edge technologies --, instead framing most of the issues on the development issue as arising from human problems, not te
Willie Loh
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A classic & must-read for anyone working in software industry and specially useful for managers.
The book breaks into 6 parts and consists of 39 easy-to-read short chapters/essays.

Part I - Managing the Human Resource (Productivity, Overtime, Quality, Parkinson's Law)
Part II - The Office Environment (say NO to Open Workspace)
Part III - The Right People (Leadership, Hiring, Turnover, Retention)
Part IV - Growing Productive Teams (Teamicide, Open Kimono, Team Formation)
Part V - Fertile Soil (Mee
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Tom DeMarco is the author of fifteen books, including five novels, a collection of short stories and the rest business books. His most recent work is a seemingly jinxed love story, The One-Way Time Traveler. Before that he wrote Dark Harbor House, and before that Slack and Peopleware and The Deadline.
“The fundamental response to change is not logical, but emotional.” 8 likes
“The manager’s function is not to make people work, but to make it possible for people to work.” 7 likes
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