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June 03, 2005

Peopleware - Book Recommendation

Out of the blue, my friend Bob Levin called to say he finally got around to reading Peopleware by Tom Demarco and Timothy Lister.  We spent the next hour talking about offices versus cubical, diversity and half a dozen other topics.  Bob's one of those guys that I can just bounce all over the place with exploring interesting ideas and I always go away being more motivated because he often reminds me why I became an entrepreneur in the first place.

Peopleware probably was the first book I read that made me think, "maybe I could start a business someday".  It's a great book that tries to get to the question of how to create a great development team.  There are lots of specific conclusions based on research about what can be done to make people more productive and happy with their work.  For instance, they found that there is a correlation to the amount of uninterrupted time a person spends at work and their productivity.  It is why everyone at Gold Systems has an office (OK, there is one exception) and why every office has a door.

By the way, I’m not against cubicles or open space. I’ve offered to build out cubes for anyone who thinks they would be happier or more productive, because that’s really all I care about. We’re incorporating Agile development processes into our product development process, and the team has their War Room, so I’m all for creating the space that people need.

I was just flipping through the book again and realized that a story I like to tell actually came from this book. A developer was working on a very complicated problem. He was sitting at his desk with his feet propped up on the desk staring into space. His boss came by and said “Wendl! What are you doing?” Wendl said “I’m thinking.” And the boss said, “Can’t you do that at home?” It sounds like a Dilbert cartoon, but as far as I can tell Scott Adams didn’t come up with this one.

I highly recommend Peopleware. It is becoming a little dated though it was revised in 1998, so get the second edition. I’ve just put it on my reading stack again. Flipping through it has convinced me that it is still a great book and I need to review the lessons I learned the first time I read it.  Thanks for reminding me Bob!

June 3, 2005 in Entrepreneurship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack