Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams

Reviewed on , book by Tom DeMarco

A good technical management book, but unfortunately void from any new, applicable insights for me. Either this means that I am starting to exhaust this category of books, that Peopleware didn’t have much new to me, or that this book has inspired many of the other’s I’ve read (it was written in 1999). If I’d read this a few years ago, it feels probable it would’ve been 5-stars. The general theme of the book is along the lines of DeMarco’s other book, Slack, that innovation plummets proportionally to how tight a team is run. Office environment problems are given many pages: we are less creative when listening to music, noise is even worse, and open-office plans are noisy. Light is fantastic, and there’s rarely enough (in Denmark there’s federal legislation requiring a certain amount of natural light). In many ways, several of the chapters reads as a less fervent DHH. I did enjoy the discourse on ‘jelled teams.’ Hopefully you’ve been part of a team where everything felt like it clicked, a light sense of elitism, and that they’re part of something truly unique. Often they have fun working on tasks that to others may seem downright dull. A note for thought’s DeMarco’s observation that strong middle-management is one of the strongest signals for a thriving culture. Counter to popular beliefs on middle-management, but nonetheless jives with my personal observations. Worth reading if you’ve read less than a half dozen management books, otherwise, it might not be worth reading.