peopleware, care for your team

Peopleware by DeMarco and Lister

If there is one core sentence that could summarize whole book, it would be – even in the IT field most problems arise around people, not around technology. And you can solve those problems by addressing at people’s issues, not implementing another METHODOLOGY. This leads to the main concept of peopleware – caring for your team, trusting them and creating best conditions for creative work.

Well, it’s clearly a pity, that I read this book that late in my path as a PM, in fact if you want to join the journey, make sure to read it first! Don’t even bother reading further my summarization since it will be all like how great this book is. And indeed it is.

Simply said, just read this book and skip my post.

If it’s so simple, why are a lot of projects failing, why can’t we just make this book a METHODOLOGY, a standard for every IT company out there? Well, because it’s unpleasant. A hell lot of managers (including myself) love to operate with numbers, measure story points, velocity, team performance because they trust numbers more than feelings. You can explain a number, but in most cases you won’t be able to explain a feeling. And your boss won’t accept a feeling either. And your team won’t provide you any numbers, like – hey, I’m feeling down today because the loudness level raised by 20%, thus, lowering my productivity by 15%. And and and.

You should care about your people and create or try to create best possible environment for them (simply try to rhyme peopleware with peoplecare). Because there is no mass production in such an intellectual field of work. Coding is not like working along an assembly line. You will need a “flow”. It’s not trivial to get into the flow-state, it takes some time and every interruption will force you to leave the state.

If you need the shortest summarization of the book, here we go – find right (means qualified) people, infect them with your idea, create best possible conditions for their work, leave them alone.

Here are few total no-go’s that no one should ever do to his/her team:

  • Huge open spaces – no, no, no and again no. When your brain is working you need silence. That’s as simple as it is. People listening to music or other environment’s sounds can work too, but they can’t create new, alternative solutions, they can just do their routine work.
  • Engulf your people in beaurocracy  – just think over it – do your really need a daily report? If you answer is ‘yes’, think again. And again. And then again. If the answer is still ‘yes’ you haven’t found the right people you can trust.

Why do you even mind mentioning short phone calls and furthermore call such distractions evil? Are you out of your mind?

Do you like math? I bet you do, at least numbers, since we all love numbers. Let’s say there are two employees, both instructed to do one task, consisting of several sub-tasks and few random phone calls. Let’s even assume they require same amount of time to carry out the work and need approximately about 5 minutes to adjust between some interruption with just one slight difference – we will place a phone near the first employee while leaving the second one completely exposed to silence handing out the phone to him at the end.

Subtask 1 – done in 5 minutes

Subtask 2 – done in 5 minutes

Subtask 3 – done in 5 minutes

Subtask 4 – done in 5 minutes

Subtask 5 – done in 5 minutes

Adjusting time – 5 minutes

Phone call 1 – 5 minutes

Phone call 2 – 5 minutes

Phone call 3 – 5 minutes

Phone call 4 – 5 minutes

Phone call 5 – 5 minutes

Subtask 1 – done in 5 minutes

Adjusting time – 5 minutes

Phone call 1 – 5 minutes

Adjusting time – 5 minutes

Subtask 2 – done in 5 minutes

Adjusting time – 5 minutes

Phone call 2 – 5 minutes

Adjusting time – 5 minutes

Subtask 3 – done in 5 minutes

Adjusting time – 5 minutes

Phone call 3 – 5 minutes

Adjusting time – 5 minutes

Subtask 4 – done in 5 minutes

Adjusting time – 5 minutes

Phone call 4 – 5 minutes

Adjusting time – 5 minutes

Subtask 5 – done in 5 minutes

Adjusting time – 5 minutes

Phone call 5 – 5 minutes

Holy cow – 95 minutes vs. 55 minutes – that’s an increase of almost 100%!

Now imagine what happens when a phone is always in reach of your employees’ ears (even if they don’t have to answer it directly, for every call you can add some adjusting time. Additionally, by all means 5 minutes is a value suitable for a very professional employee, for your more-than-average protege you may increase this value by 100%-200%.

Published by

Anton

Hello! My name is Anton. I am a passionate project manager who loves digging deep into code. You can check my Github and CodeEval. Hopefully my thoughts on management can lead you to one or another good idea.