Sunday, July 31, 2005

Peopleware book review

Today was a rainy Sunday in Norway. So we stayed in, watched some movies, and I finished reading Peopleware. At 245 pages it isn't the biggest book, but it is famous and it is on a lot of people recommendations lists. In fact I think this book has been cited in more programming books then I have read then any others, so I was familiar with its ideas. It wasn't one long book, but more like dozens of three page essays tied together loosely. Some basics such as:
  • Cubicles are bad for productivity and morale
  • Testing is not an option and must be automated
  • Teams, not groups of people
  • Spending your time hiring the right person
  • Meetings should be random, short and only include those who are required to be there
  • Many more
A few fun ideas that I had not seen so explicitly stated before:
  • Cubes are supposedly so easy to reorganize and yet you [the user] never get to reconfigure them once they are installed and laid out by the managers.
  • The larger the company the more procedures you will run across
  • The higher your CMM the less risky your projects
One idea that is talked about in the book, but never really stressed enough in other books is the fact that users hate change. I have read a few books that talk in detail on the topic, but none detailed in computer science. Overall that is what the book feels like and probably why it is referenced in so many other books. Every other book I have read talks much more in depth on one or two of the topics. But for those who are new to programming this book is a good overview of many different topics and practices. I am pretty sure that is why Trolltech used to give it to every new employee. Considering the age of the book and its popularity I would say that you should be able to acquire a copy from the library, a friend, your companies library or Amazon's used books without any problems. Being so sort it is worth the read if only as a refresher and to give to the next co-worker that gets hired.

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