Book review: Peopleware (Read This!)

Peopleware cover Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams by Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister is the one book you MUST read if you are in any kind of professional, knowledge worker business. Although it is written for the software companies, in fact it is packed with insight that applies to any business where people work with their brains.

It talks about the kind of working environment you need to ensure maximum individual productivity (two person private offices, big desks, lots of shelves etc.) and to maximise concentration (stop paging people over the PA) and to ensure maximum team productivity. As the name suggests, the authors think that people are the critical ingredient for project success. It’s also a short book – about 220 pages.

I was reminded of this essential book when I read an interview with Tim Lister this morning about his new book (hat tip: Slashdot).

Other related books that I highly recommend: The Mythical Man Month and Other Essays on Software Engineering(summed up by an old colleague of mine as “it doesn’t matter how many times you have sex, it still takes nine months to produce a baby”) and Rapid Development: Taming Wild Software Schedules (a bit of an epic but biblical in authority as well as length) and Frederick Herzberg’s classic: One more time: how do you motivate employees? (clue: more money won’t do it).

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11 Responses to Book review: Peopleware (Read This!)

  1. Neil July 14, 2007 at 2:38 pm #

    Matthew,

    Thanks for the link to the interview. Peopleware is indeed a book that’s well worth reading – much of what’s been written about software teams in the 20+ years since its publication is just derivative.

    Another really good book is The psychology of computer programming by Gerald Weiberg. 35 years old, but still relevant.

    – Neil

    PS Tim Lister is speaking at Business of Software 2007

  2. Simon Wilson July 16, 2007 at 12:55 pm #

    Also take a look at ‘Slack – Getting Past Burn-out, Busywork, and the Myth of Total Efficiency’ by DeMarco. Wonderful reminder that if all we have is busyness we don’t have time to imagine.

  3. Kate the Book Buff April 29, 2010 at 7:07 pm #

    This sounds like a book my boss could definitely use!!! Great review, thanks :)

    • Matthew Stibbe November 4, 2011 at 10:02 am #

      Peopleware is one of a tiny handful of business books that is actually worth reading.

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