Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams

  1. Managing the Human Resource
    • Intro
      • managers try to treat people as modules
    • Somewhere Today, a Project is Failing
      • 15% (worse for bigger projects) software projects fail due to people-related issues, not technology
      • high tech illusion: we are in high-tech business
      • we are mostly in the human communication business
      • focus on the technical, because it is easier
    • Make a Cheeseburger, Sell a Cheeseburger
      • management philosophy shaped from a production environment
      • try to eliminate errors
      • bozo definition of management: managers provide all the thinking and people carry out their bidding
      • nothing more discouraging to any worker than the sense that his own motivation is inadequate  and needs to be supplemented by the boss
      • too many managers threatened workers asserting individuality
      • the natural people manager realizes uniqueness is what makes project chemistry vital and effective
      • steady-state production ill-suited to project work
        • project’s entire purpose is to put itself out of business
      • can’t spend 100% of the time doing the task, need to budget time to think and ask key questions
        • the more important the project, the more brainstorming you should do
    • Vienna Waits for You
      • real-world management seems to be about working harder and longer
      • project members understand that there are more important things than the silly job they’re working on
      • overtime is almost always followed by compensatory undertime
        • undertime is invisible
        • the benefit is balanced out in the long-run
      • workaholics often leave after realizing they’ve sacrificed a more important value
        • e.g. family, love, home, youth
        • if you exploit, will eventually lose
      • productivity and turnover should be taken into account together
      • people under time pressure don’t work better, they work faster
        • sacrifices quality of the product and job satisfaction
    • Quality–If Time Permits
      • people can not remove their emotions from work
      • a major arouser of emotions is threatened self-esteem
      • we tend to tie our self-esteem strongly to the quality of product
      • a market-driven quality standard makes sense only if you ignore the effect on the builder’s attitude and effectiveness
      • in the long-run, market-based quality costs more
      • quality far beyond that required by the end-user is a means to higher productivity
      • the trade-off between price and quality does not exist in Japan
        • rather, the idea that high quality brings on cost reduction is widely accepted
      • a policy of “quality if time permits” will assure that no quality at all will sneak into the product
      • high, builder-set quality standards increase job satisfaction and some of the lower turnover figures
      • in some companies, the project team has an effective power of veto over the delivery of not-yet-ready products
    • Parkinson’s Law Revisited
      • notion that work expands to fill the time allocated
      • he didn’t provide any data, caught on because it was funny
      • the law almost certainly doesn’t apply to your people
      • in a healthy environment, the reasons that some people don’t perform are due to lack of competence, confidence, and/or affiliation with others on the project
        • in none of these cases does schedule pressure help
        • in rare cases, when leaning on someone is the only option, should come from the team
      • studies show bad estimates tend to sap builders of energy
        • surprisingly, highest productivity was when no estimates were prepared at all
      • variation of parkinson: organizational busy work tends to expand to fill the working day
    • Laetrile
      • a lot of managers look for silver bullet to solve their problems
      • there is some new trick you’ve missed that can send productivity soaring
        • you are not dumb enough to have missed something so fundamental
      • other managers are getting gains of 100-200%
        • the typical manager tool is focused on coding and testing
        • doesn’t include analysis, negotiation, specification, training, acceptance training, conversion, and cutover
      • technology is moving so swiftly you are being passed by
        • most of what you’re doing is not truly high-tech work
      • changing languages will give you huge gains
        • can only impact the implementation part of the project
      • because of your backlog, need to double productivity immediately
        • the typical project that’s stuck in the backlog is there because it has barely enough benefit to justify building it
      • automate away your development staff
        • their principal work is human communication to organize the user’s expressions of needs into formal procedure
      • your people will work better if you put them under a lot of pressure
        • they won’t, they’ll just enjoy it less
      • manager’s function is not to make people work, but make it possible for people to work
  2. The Office Environment
    • Intro
      • the environment can make it impossible to work
      • there are a million ways to lose a work day, but not even a single way to get one back
    • The Furniture Police
      • intellect workers need to have their brains in gear, but also need areas where a conversation can take place
      • people who control the space, don’t spend time thinking about any of those concerns
      • optimize for containment and minimal cost
    • “You Never Get Anything Done Around Here Between 9 and 5”
      • staying late or arriving early to get work done in peace is a damning indictment of the office environment
      • changing environment is not beyond human capacity
      • code wars experiment shows language, years of experience, number of defects, and salary were productivity non-factors
      • a big factor is pair mate and likely your work environment
      • their work environment failing to attract and keep good people or making it impossible for them to work effectively
      • if you manage a team, their workplace environment is your business
    • Saving Money on Space
      • obvious reason for less space is cost, but benefits are not studied
      • the cost of the workspace for a developer is a small percentage of the salary paid to developers
      • ratio may be 20:1
      • IBM conducted study and decided on 100 sq ft per worker, 30 sq ft of work surface, and noise protection in the form of enclosed offices or six-foot high partitions
      • cost reduction to provide workspace below minimum would result in loss of effectiveness that would more than offset cost savings
      • noise is proportional to the density
      • measuring productivity is difficult, anything you need to quantify can be measured in some way that is superior to not measuring it at all
      • if you don’t measure, you can’t improve
    • Brain Time vs Body Time
      • developers working alone 30% of the time and generate noise the remaining
      • takes time to get into a productive flow state
      • the work environment can guarantee an endless state of no-flow which increases cost of work getting done
      • consider tracking uninterrupted hours vs body hours
      • best orgs have ratio as high as .4 and other orgs have as low as .1
      • need to sanction notion that people ought to have at least some interrupt-free time
      • need an environment where you can think on the job as well
    • The Telephone
      • highly interruptive
      • need to learn ok to not always answer phone
      • quality of your time is highly important
    • Bring back the door
      • if you think environment is an issue, need to start staying so
      • expect push back e.g. office is about glitz, use music to cover noise, we want people to interact
      • Glitz
        • one study shows workers don’t care about surroundings as long as it’s not depressing
        • work-conducive office space is not a status symbol, but a necessity
        • you can pay for it or lose productivity
      • Creativity
        • while logical side can function well with music
        • creative side is hindered by music
        • can result in reduced creativity over a long time and without spark of excitement best people leave
      • Vital Space
        • dont need individual offices, people can share space
      • let people reorganize into shared suites
      • ok to violate principle of uniformity
      • the optimal environment is not infinitely replicable and different by team/person
      • management should at least make sure there is enough space, enough quiet, and privacy
    • Taking Umbrella Steps
      • master plan architecture can only be understood in terms of its symbolic value to the executives who caused it to be built
      • Consider a facility that can grow in an evolutionary fashion
        •  a philosophy of piecemeal growth
        • a set of patterns or shared design principles governing growth
        • local control of design by those who will occupy the space
      • the natural order emerges when there is a perfect balance between the needs of the individual parts of the environment and the needs of the whole
      • let workers be allowed to participate in the design of their own work space
      • windows e.g.  hotels
      • indoor and outdoor space
      • reliance on non-replicable formulas
      • consider moving your people out of the corporate space if you can
  3. The Right People
    • Intro
      • final outcome more an effort of who does the work than how
      • get right people, make them happy, turn them loose
    • The Hornblower Factor
      • managers fundamentally changing people unrealistic
      • if not right from the start, likely never will be
      • do not hire based on appearances
        • the need for uniformity is a sign of insecurity on the part of management
        • pride should be tied to the staff’s accomplishments
      • dress code should be less important than contributions especially if not customer/client facing
      • the term “professional” can be used to mean uniformity or unsurprising
      • entropy or level of samness is always increasing making it hard to generate energy or do work
    • Hiring a Juggler
      • would you hire a juggler without seeing him juggle?
      • portfolios are a great way to show real work
      • aptitude tests that are oriented towards task might predict how well hires do on typical tasks, but not right-brain activities that require holistic, heuristic judgement and intuition-based experience
      • ability to communicate is crucial, consider having them give a presentation to a group
        • another side benefit is easier to accept into the group if they approve
    • Happy to Be Here
      • most people don’t know what turnover is
      • average person leaves in 2 years
      • cost is roughly half the ramp up time for a new hire
      • hidden costs of turnover include making people more short-term focused
      • companies with low turnover all share a preoccupation with being the best at something
      • being the best is a long-term concent and encourages permanence
      • people stay because there is a sense you are expected to stay
      • the company invests  hugely in your personal growth
      • widespread retraining is a common feature of companies with low turnover
    • The Self-Healing System
      • if you completely automate a system, it becomes entirely deterministic and loses self-healing quality
      • strict methodologies where all decisions are predetermined loses flexibility
      • implies that people aren’t smart enough to do the thinking
      • convergence and standards are a good thing, but instead of statues consider training, tools, peer review
      • Hawthrone effect: people perform better when trying something new
        • accounts for most productivity gains
  4. Growing Productive Teams
    • Intro
      • good work experiences have a fair measure of challenge to them
      • if you think to a specific moment, usually it will be about interactions with team
      • what’s important is coming together
      • in the best work groups, team interaction is everything
      • people work better and have more fun
    • The Whole Is Greater Than the Sum of the Parts
      • in a jelled team, the probability of success goes up dramatically
      • teams formed around a common goal
      • believing that workers will automatically accept organizational goals is a sign of naive managerial optimism
      • corporate objectives do not exactly line up with workers
      • the pleasure comes from achieving any goal together
      • most work is done by individuals alone
      • the purpose of a team is not goal attainment, but goal alignment
      • signs of a jelled team
        • low turnover during project
        • strong sense of identity
        • shared catch phrases, humor, jokes
        • individuals eager for peer review
        • obvious enjoyment in work
      • teams vs cliques
        • same denotation, different connotation
        • fear of cliques is a sign of managerial insecurity
        • well-jelled team does more to serve the manager’s real goals than any assemblage of interchangfeable parts
    • The Black Team
      • team forms unique personality of its own
      • succeeds as a social unit even after original members leave
    • Teamicide
      • hard to list exactly how to make jelled teams, but easier to enumreate ways to do the opposite
      • defensive management
        • you can’t protect yourself against your own people’s incompetence
        • if they aren’t up to the job, they will fail
        • once you’ve decided to go with a group, need to trust them
        • freedom means allowing them to proceed differently from your way
        • people who feel untrusted have little inclination to bond together
      • bureaucracy
        • mindless paper pushing is a waste
        • team needs to believe in whatever goal it forms around
        • can’t get excited about pushing paper
      • physical separation
        • less causal interaction
        • when all on the same team, tend to go into quiet mode at same time so less interruption of flow
      • fragmentation of time
        • hard to a part of multiple jelled teams
        • takes time to change gears
      • the quality-reduced project
        • concessions painful to developers
        • co-workers who are developing a shoddy product don’t even want to look at each other in the eye
      • phony deadlines
        • tight but not impossible deadline can be enjoyable challenge
        • “we absolutely must be done by ___” never helps
        • effort will slip if success is impossible
        • these teams don’t jell
      • clique control
        • don’t explicitly break teams up
        • due to insecurity
      • most organizations don’t set out to consciously kill teams, but do act that way
    • A Spaghetti Dinner
      • imagine manager invites team to dinner and lets people organically take on responsibilities and make dinner
      • good manager provide frequent easy opportunities for teams to succeed together
    • Open Kimono
      • managers of well workers are careful to respect autonomy once granted
      • take no steps to defend yourself from the people you’ve put into positions of trust
      • all the people under you are in positions of trust
      • brings out the best in everyone, your trust will be rewarded
      • don’t need physical oversight, will know based on the results of the product
      • skunkwork projects
      • projects do well when people get to choose who the work with
      • best bosses don’t give direction or make judgements on their own, but through natural authority
      • each of the workers is known to have some special area of expertise and is trusted by all as a natural authority in that area
    • Chemistry for Team Formation
      • simplisitc list
      • make a cult of quality
        • strong catalyst for team formation
        • market, consumers, clients, upper management will never ask for high quality
        • team can only do this if protected from short-term economics
      • I told her I loved her when I married her
        • humans need reassurance and closure
        • chemistry-building manager takes pains to divide the work into pieces and makes sure each piece has some substantive demonstration to its completion
        • deliver internal intermediate versions
        • teams get high from success, renews energy, and makes them feel closer
      • the elite team
        • people require a sense of uniquenss
        • whatever the elite characteristic is, it forms the basis of the team’s identity, an essential ingredient of a jelled team
        • team needs to be unique in some sense, not all
      • on not breaking up the yankees
        • if a team does knit, don’t break it up
        • give them the option of working on another project together
        • will start each new endeavor with enormous momentum
      • a network model of team behavior
        • managers not part of the team they manage
        • made up of peers
        • on best teams, different individuals provide occasional leadership
        • no one is a permanent leader
        • structure of a team is a network, not hierarchy
      • selections from a chinese menu
        • a bit of heterogeneity can be enormous aid in building a jelled team
        • ok to not be a clone
      • can’t always make it happen, but when a team does come together, worth the cost
  5. It’s Supposed to be Fun to Work Here
    • Chaos and Order
      • managers job is to leave small packets of chaos to others
      • progress towards more orderly controllable mtehods is an unstoppable trend
      • thoughtful manager adopts a policy of constructive reintroduction of a small amount of disorder
      • pilot projects
        • try some new an unproved technique
        • initial inefficiency is cost
        • improvement in productivity is gain
        • hawthorne effect boosts energy as well when people are trying something new
        • don’t experiement with more than one aspect on any given project
      • war games
        • can collect useful stats
        • help workers evaluate relative strengths and weaknesses
        • if you do it right, will be really fun
        • can provide good bonding experience
      • brainstorming
        • strive for quantity
        • evaluation phase later
        • discourage negative comments
        • faciliate by asking about similar problems, the negative, or immersion
      • training, trips, conferences, celebrations, and retreats
        • everyone relishes chance to get out of office
        • there is a place for adventure, silliness, and a small amount of construtive disorder
    • Free Electrons
      • many experts are becoming consultants
      • some organizations offer roles with loosely defined responsibilties
      • they do this, because they profit from it
      • embrace individualism
      • the mark of the best manager is an ability to single out the few key spirits who have the proper mix of perspective and maturiaty and turn them loose
      • manager can’t give direction, they have progressed to the point where their own direction is more unerringly in the best interest of the organization
    • Holgar Dansk
      • you can’t make all of these changes
      • even one change is substantial
      • not strong enough to change everything on your own
      • takes less effort to raise awareness of issues
      • can utilize the power of co-workers, suborindates, rational men and women
      • if siliness is gross enough, people need no more than a gentle catalyst
      • sociology matters more than people or money
      • supposed to be productive, satsifying fun to work
      • if it isn’t, there’s nothing else worth concentratin on
      • choose your terrain carefully, assembly your facts and speak up
  6. Son of Peopleware
    • Teamicide Revisited
      • motivational accessories are demeaning
      • overtime on a jelled team can usually not be applied evenly which can lead to damaging team cohesion
      • overtime is often more about shielding yourself from blame
    • Competition
      • coaching is important for team since different members will have different competencies
      • good for personal growth
      • cannot take place if people don’t feel safe
      • don’t want to reveal your weaknesses or let someone else pass your
      • some managerial actions that tend to produce teamicidal side effects:
        • annual salary or merit reviews
        • management by objectives
        • praise of certain workers for extraordinary accomplishments
        • awards, prizes bonuses tied to performance
        • performance measurement in almost any form
      • Deming’s point is that simplistic intrinsitc motivators are used to excue mangement from harder matters such as investment, direct perosnal motivation, thoughtful team-formation, staff retention, and ongoing analysis and redesign of work procedures
      • in a “team” or “ensemble” the success of the individual is tied irrvocably to the success of the whole
    • Process Improvement Programs
      • standard interfaces are good, but doesn’t necessarily mean there needs to be a standard process of how to build
      • process improvement is good, but process improvement programs aren’t
      • formal process improvement moves responsibility up from individual to the organization
      • process isn’t worth a rip unless it’s applied to projects that are worth doing
      • some organizations stick to safe projects to perserve certification levels
      • if organization is the best, should raise bar and strive for more potentially risky, but rewarding projects
    • Making Change Possible
      • people tend to hate change
      • categories of people: blindly loyal, believers but questioners, miltantly opposed
      • focus on believers
      • blindly loyal are fickle
      • fundamental response to change is not logical but emotional
      • naive model of change: old status quo -> new status quo
      • satir change model: old status quo -> chaos -> pratice and integration -> new status quo
      • when you first introduce change, can be worse off for now
      • need to understand that this isn’t the new staus quo, need to offer hope that things will get better
      • without this model, reaction will be to change back during the choas stage
      • change won’t get started unless people feel safe
      • change only has a chance of succeeding if failure at least a little bit is ok
    • Human Capital
      • difference between expense and capital expenditure
      • some spend goes away, but some don’t e.g. investing in employee’s skill
      • need to preserve an organization’s investment into it’s people
      • wallstreet focus on short-term earnings can hurt company in the long-term
      • companies of knowledge workers have to realize that their investment in human capital matters the most
    • Organizational Learning
      • some organizations can learn others can not
      • experience turns into learning when an organization alters itself to take account of what experience has shown
      • learning is limited by an organization’s ability to keep its people
      • learning occurs primarily in middle management
      • learning will likely be in the white space between middle management if communication channels are good
    • The Ultimate Management Sin Is …
      • ultimate sin is wasting people’s time
      • status report where the boss interacts individually with each member is for his or her own reassurance
      • more about status of the boss
      • some ceremonial meetings are good for appreciation and group membership
      • often don’t need the same number of people at beginning of the project, but politically infeasible to not staff more people
      • makes yourself look bad if you didn’t add extra staff and you are late
      • human capital invested in your work force also represents a ton of money
      • wasting the time of that huge investment is money poured down the drain
    • The Making of Community
      • strong need for community and workplace is best chance
      • community doesn’t just happen
      • organization that succeeds in building a satisfying community tends to keep its people
      • people will tend to look back on relationiships fondly over work
      • no formula requires substantial atlen, courage and creativity and investment in time

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