《高效的项目和团队》

Productive Projects and Teams是一本好书。 许多其中许多关于管理和沟通的精辟言论让我大有相见很晚之感。其实不仅是软件的开发项目,任何项目,甚至任何行业的管理,都首先是对人的管理,然后才是对事物的管理,所以设身处地的为别人着想,用鼓励来代替批评,用相互学习来取消互相排挤,在失败中学习,在前进中自醒,则无往而不胜。

鉴于原书是英文的,我打算利用业余时间把它翻译成中文,一来方便后学者,二来以此提高自己的英文水平。我将在这里随时提供翻译的最新动态。

下面是原文文本
PART I
MANAGING THE HUMAN
RESOURCE


Most of us as managers are prone to one particular failing: a
tendency to manage people as though they were modular components.
It's obvious enough where this tendency comes from.
Consider the preparation we had for the task of management: We
were judged to be good management material because we performed
well as doers, as technicians and developers. That often involved
organizing our resources into modular pieces, such as software routines,
circuits, or other units of work. The modules we constructed
were made to exhibit a black-box characteristic, so that their internal
idiosyncrasies could be safely ignored. They were designed to be
used with a standard interface.

After years of reliance on these modular methods, small wonder
that as newly promoted managers, we try to manage our human
resources the same way. Unfortunately, it doesn't work very well.

In Part I, we begin to investigate a very different way of
thinking about and managing people. That way involves specific
accommodation to the very nonmodular character of the human
resource.


Chapter 1

SOMEWHERE TODAY,
A PROJECT IS FAILING


Since the days when computers first came into common use,
there must have been tens of thousands of accounts receivable programs
written. There are probably a dozen or more accounts receivable
projects underway as you read these words. And somewhere
today, one of them is failing.

Imagine that! A project requiring no real technical innovation
is going down the tubes. Accounts receivable is a wheel that's been
reinvented so often that many veteran developers could stumble
through such projects with their eyes closed. Yet these efforts
sometimes still manage to fail.

Suppose that at the end of one of these debacles, you were
called upon to perform an autopsy. (It would never happen, of
course; there is an inviolable industry standard that prohibits examining
our failures.) Suppose, before all the participants had scurried
off for cover, you got a chance to figure out what had gone wrong.
One thing you would not find is that the technology had sunk the
project. Safe to say, the state of the art has advanced sufficiently so
that accounts receivable systems are technically possible. Something
else must be the explanation.

Each year since 1977, we have conducted a survey of development
projects and their results. We've measured project size,
cost, defects, acceleration factors, and success or failure in meeting
schedules. We've now accumulated more than five hundred project
histories, all of them from real-world development efforts.

We observe that about fifteen percent of all projects studied
came to naught: They were canceled or aborted or "postponed" or


4 PEOPLEWARE

they delivered products that were never used. For bigger projects,
the odds are even worse. Fully twenty-five percent of projects that
lasted twenty-five work-years or more failed to complete. In the
early surveys, we discarded these failed data points and analyzed the
others. Since 1979, though, we've been contacting whoever is left
of the project staff to find out what went wrong. For the overwhelming
majority of the bankrupt projects we studied, there was
not a single technological issue to explain the failure,

The Name of the Game

The cause of failure most frequently cited by our survey participants
was "politics." But now observe that people tend to use this word
rather sloppily. Included under "politics" are such unrelated or
loosely related things as communication problems, staffing problems,
disenchantment with the boss or with the client, lack of motivation,
and high turnover. People often use the word politics to
describe any aspect of the work that is people-related, but the
English language provides a much more precise term for these
effects: They constitute the project's sociology. The truly political
problems are a tiny and pathological subset.

If you think of a problem as political in nature, you tend to be
fatalistic about it. You know you can stand up to technical challenges,
but honestly, who among us can feel confident in the realm
of politics? By noting the true nature of a problem as sociological
rather than political, you make it more tractable. Project and team
sociology may be a bit outside your field of expertise, but not
beyond your capabilities.

Whatever you name these people-related problems, they're
more likely to cause you trouble on your next assignment than all the
design, implementation, and methodology issues you'll have to deal
with. In fact, that idea is the underlying thesis of this whole book:

The major problems of our work are not so much

technological as sociological in nature.

Most managers are willing to concede the idea that they've got
more people worries than technical worries. But they seldom manage
that way. They manage as though technology were their principal
concern. They spend their time puzzling over the most convoluted
and most interesting puzzles that their people will have to


SOMEWHERE TODAY, A PROJECT IS FAILING 5

solve, almost as though they themselves were going to do the work
rather than manage it. They are forever on the lookout for a technical
whiz-bang that promises to automate away part of the work (see
Chapter 6, "Laetrile," for more on this effect). The most strongly
people-oriented aspects of their responsibility are often given the
lowest priority.

Part of this phenomenon is due to the upbringing of the average
manager. He or she was schooled in how the job is done, not
how the job is managed. It's a rare firm in which new managers
have done anything that specifically indicates an ability or an aptitude
for management. They've got little management experience and
no meaningful practice. So how do new managers succeed in convincing
themselves that they can safely spend most of their time
thinking technology and little or no time thinking about the people
side of the problem?

The High-Tech Illusion

Perhaps the answer is what we've come to think of as the High-
Tech Illusion: the widely held conviction among people who deal
with any aspect of new technology (as who of us does not?) that
they are in an intrinsically high-tech business. They are indulging in
the illusion whenever they find themselves explaining at a cocktail
party, say, that they are "in computers," or "in telecommunications,"
or "in electronic funds transfer." The implication is that they are part
of the high-tech world. Just between us, they usually aren't. The
researchers who made fundamental breakthroughs in those areas are
in a high-tech business. The rest of us are appliers of their work.
We use computers and other new technology components to develop
our products or to organize our affairs. Because we go about this
work in teams and projects and other tightly knit working groups,
we are mostly in the human communication business. Our successes
stem from good human interactions by all participants in the
effort, and our failures stem from poor human interactions.

The main reason we tend to focus on the technical rather than
the human side of the work is not because it's more crucial, but
because it's easier to do. Getting the new disk drive installed is positively
trivial compared to figuring out why Horace is in a blue funk
or why Susan is dissatisfied with the company after only a few
months. Human interactions are complicated and never very crisp
and clean in their effects, but they matter more than any other aspect
of the work.


6 PEQPLEWARE

If you find yourself concentrating on the technology rather
than the sociology, you're like the vaudeville character who loses
his keys on a dark street and looks for them on the adjacent street
because, as he explains, "The light is better there."


Chapter 2


MAKE A CHEESEBURGER,
SELL A CHEESEBURGER


Development is inherently different from production. But
managers of development and allied efforts often allow their thinking
to be shaped by a management philosophy derived entirely from
a production environment.

Imagine for the moment that you're the manager of the local
fast food franchise. It makes perfect sense for you to take any or all
of the following efficient production measures:

. Squeeze out error. Make the machine (the human machine)
run as smoothly as possible.
Take a hard line about people goofing off on the job.
. Treat workers as interchangeable pieces of the machine.
. Optimize the steady state. (Don't even think about how the
operation got up to speed, or what it would take to close it
down.)
. Standardize procedure. Do everything by the book.
. Eliminate experimentation—that's what the folks at headquarters
are paid for.
These would be reasonable approaches if you were in the fast food
business (or any production environment), but you're not. The
"make a cheeseburger, sell a cheeseburger" mentality can be fatal in
your development area. It can only serve to damp your people's
spirits and focus their attention away from the real problems at hand.
This style ofmanagementwill be directly atodds with the work.


8 PEOPLEWARE

To manage thinking workers effectively, you need to take
measures nearly opposite those listed above. Our proposed opposite
approaches are described in the following sections.

A Quota for Errors

For most thinking workers, making an occasional mistake is a natural
and healthy part of their work. But there can be an almost Biblical
association between error on the job and sin. This is an attitude
we need to take specific pains to change.

Speaking to a group of software managers, we introduced a
strategy for what we think of as iterative design. The idea is that
some designs are intrinsically defect-prone; they ought to be rejected,
not repaired. Such dead ends should be expected in the design
activity. The lost effort of the dead end is a small price to pay for a
clean, fresh start. To our surprise, many managers felt this would
pose an impossible political problem for their own bosses: "How
can we throw away a product that our company has paid to produce?"
They seemed to believe that they'd be better off salvaging
the defective version even though it might cost more in the long run.

Fostering an atmosphere that doesn't allow for error simply
makes people defensive. They don't try things that may turn out
badly. You encourage this defensiveness when you try to systematize
the process, when you impose rigid methodologies so that staff
members are not allowed to make any of the key strategic decisions
lest they make them incorrectly. The average level of technology
may be modestly improved by any steps you take to inhibit error.
The team sociology, however, can suffer grievously.

The opposite approach would be to encourage people to make
some errors. You do this by asking your folks on occasion what
dead-end roads they've been down, and by making sure they
understand that "none" is not the best answer. When people blow
it, they should be congratulated—that's part of what they're being
paid for.

Management: The Bozo Definition

Management is a complex enough thing to defy simple definition,
but that nuance was lost on one senior manager we encountered at a
professional society meeting in London. He summed up his entire


MAKE A CHEESEBURGER,SELL ACHEESEBURGER 9

view of the subject with this statement: "Management is kicking
ass." This equates to the view that managers provide all the thinking
and the people underneath them just carry out their bidding. Again,
that might be workable for cheeseburger production, but not for any
effort for which people do the work with their heads rather than their
hands. Everyone in such an environment has got to have the brain
in gear. You may be able to kick people to make them active, but
not to make them creative, inventive, and thoughtful.

Even if kicking people in the backside did boost their short-
term productivity, it might not be useful in the long run: There is
nothing more discouraging to any worker than the sense that his
own motivation is inadequate and has to be "supplemented" by that
of the boss.

The saddest thing about this management approach is that it's
almost always superfluous. You seldom need to take Draconian
measures to keep your people working; most of them love their
work. You may even have to take steps sometimes to make them
work less, and thus get more meaningful work done (more about
this idea in Chapter 3).

The People Store

In a production environment, it's convenient to think of people as
parts of the machine. When a part wears out, you get another. The
replacement part is interchangeable with the original. You order a
new one, more or less, by number.

Many development managers adopt the same* attitude. They go
to great lengths to convince themselves that no one is irreplaceable.
Because they fear that a key person will leave, they force themselves
to believe that there is no such thing as a key person. Isn't that the
essence of management, after all, to make sure that the work goes
on whether the individuals stay or not? They act as though there
were a magical People Store they could call up and say, "Send me a
new George Gardenhyer, but make him a little less uppity."

One of my clients brought a splendid employee into a
salary review and was just amazed that the fellow
wanted something other than money. He said that he
often had good ideas at home but that his slow dial-up
terminal was a real bother to use. Couldn't the company
install a new line into his house and buy him a


10 PEOPLEWARE

high-performance terminal? The company could. In
subsequent years, it even built and furnished a small
home office for the fellow. But my client is an unusual
case. I wonder what a less perceptive manager would
have done. Too many managers are threatened by anything
their workers do to assert their individuality.

—TRL

One example ofjust such a less perceptive manager was a boss
who showed extreme signs of being threatened by his people's
individuality: He had one very talented worker on the road for much
of the year visiting client sites and as a result living on expense
account. An analysis of the man's expense reports showed that his
expenditures on food were way out of line with those of other travelers.
He spent fifty percent more on food than the others did. In
an indignant public memo, the boss branded the worker a "food
criminal." Now, the worker's total expenditures weren't out of line;
whatever extra he spent on food, he saved on something else. The
man was not more expensive, he was just different.

The uniqueness of every worker is a continued annoyance to
the manager who has blindly adopted a management style from the
production world. The natural people manager, on the other hand,
realizes that uniqueness is what makes project chemistry vital and
effective. It's something to be cultivated.

A Project in Steady State Is Dead

Steady-state production thinking is particularly ill-suited to project
work. We tend to forget that a project's entire purpose in life is to
put itself out of business. The only steady state in the life of a project
is rigor mortis. Unless you're riding herd on a canceled or
about-to-be-canceled project, the entire focus of project management
ought to be the dynamics of the development effort. Yet the way we
assess people's value to a new project is often based on their steady-
state characteristics: how much code they can write or how much
documentation they can produce. We pay far too little attention to
how well each of them/ite into the effort as a whole.

/ was teaching an in-house design course some years
ago, when one of the upper managers buttonholed me to
request that I assess some of the people in the course


MAKE A CHEESEBURGER, SELL A CHEESEBURGER 11

(his project staff). He was particularly curious about
one woman. It was obvious he had his doubts about her:
"I don't quite see what she adds to a project^she's not a
great developer or tester or much of anything." With a
little investigation, I turned up this intriguing fact:
During her twelve years at the company, the woman in
question had never worked on a project that had been
anything other than a huge success. It wasn't obvious
what she was adding, but projects always succeeded
when she was around. After watching her in class for a
week and talking to some of her co-workers, I came to
the conclusion that she was a superb catalyst. Teams
naturally jelled better when she was there. She helped
people communicate with each other and get along.
Projects were more fun when she was part of them.
When I tried to explain this idea to the manager, I
struck out. He just didn't recognize the role of catalyst
as essential to a project.

-TDM

The catalyst is important because the project is always in a
state of flux. Someone who can help a project to jell is worth two
people who just do work.

We Haven't Got Time to Think About This Job,
Only to Do It

If you are charged with getting a task done, what proportion of your
time ought to be dedicated to actually doing the task? Not one hundred
percent. There ought to be some provision for brainstorming,
investigating new methods, figuring out how to avoid doing some
of the subtasks, reading, training, and just goofing off.

Looking back over our own years as managers, we've both
concluded that we were off-track on this subject. We spent far too
much of our time trying to get things done and not nearly enough
time asking the key question, "Ought this thing to be done at all?"
The steady-state cheeseburger mentality barely even pays lip service
to the idea of thinking on the job. Its every inclination is to push the
effort into one hundred percent do-mode. If an excuse is needed for
the lack of think-time, the excuse is always time pressure—as
though there were ever work to be done without time pressure.




The importance of a more considered approach goes up
sharply as the stakes increase. It's when the truly Herculean effort
is called for that we have to learn to do work less of the time and
think about the work more. The more heroic the effort required, the
more important it is that the team members learn to interact well and
enjoy it The project that has to be done by an impossible fixed date
is the very one that can't afford not to have frequent brainstorms and
even a project dinner or some such affair to help the individual participants
knitinto aneffective whole.

But all that is motherhood. Everybody knows that and acts
accordingly, right? Wrong. We are so single-mindedly oriented
toward Doing Something, Anything that we spend a scant five percent
ofour time on the combined activities ofplanning, investigating
new methods, training, reading books, estimating, budgeting,
scheduling, and allocating personnel. (The five percent figure comes
from an analysis of system development projects, but it seems to
apply more broadly than that, perhaps to the entire category of
salaried workers.)

The statistics about reading are particularly discouraging: The
average software developer, for example, doesn't own a single book
on the subject of his or her work, and hasn't ever read one. That
fact is horrifying for anyone concerned about the quality of work in
the field; for folks like us who write books, it is positively tragic.


Chapter 3


VIENNA WAITSFOR YOU


Some years ago I was swapping war stories with the
manager of a large project in southern California. He
began to refate the effect that his project and its crazy
hours had had on his staff. There were two divorces
that he could trace directly to the overtime his people
were putting in, and one of his worker's kids had gotten
into some kind of trouble with drugs, probably because
his father had been too busy for parenting during the
past year. Finally there had been the nervous breakdown
of the test team leader.

As he continued through these horrors, I began to
realize that in his own strange way, the man was bragging.
You might suspect that with another divorce or
two and a suicide, the project would have been a complete
success, at least in his eyes.

—TDM

For all the talk about "working smarter," there is a widespread
sense that what real-world management is all about is getting people
to work harder and longer, largely at the expense of their personal
lives. Managers are forever tooting their horns about the quantity of
overtime their people put in, and the tricks one can use to get even
more out of them.


14 PEOPCEWARE

Spanish Theory Management

Historians long ago formed an abstraction about different theories of
value: The Spanish Theory, for one, held that only a fixed amount
of value existed on earth, and therefore the path to the accumulation
of wealth was to learn to extract it more efficiently from the soil or
from people's backs. Then there was the English Theory that held
that value could be created through ingenuity and technology. So
the English had an Industrial Revolution, while the Spanish spun
their wheels trying to exploit the land and the Indians in the New
World. They moved huge quantities of gold across the ocean, and
all they got for their effort was enormous inflation (too much gold
money chasing too few usable goods).

The Spanish Theory of Value is alive and well among managers
everywhere. You see that whenever they talk about productivity.
Productivity ought to mean achieving more in an hour of
work, but all too often it has come to mean extracting more for an
hour of pay. There is a large difference. The Spanish Theory managers
dream of attaining new productivity levels through the simple
mechanism of unpaid overtime. They divide whatever work is done
in a week by forty hours, not by the eighty or ninety hours that the
worker actually put in.

That's not exactly productivity—it?s more like fraud—but
it's the state of the art for many American managers. They bully and
cajole their people into long hours. They impress upon them how
important the delivery date is (even though it may be totally arbitrary;
the world isn't going to stop just because a project completes a
month late). They trick them into accepting hopelessly tight schedules,
shame them into sacrificing any and all to meet the deadline,
and do anything to get them to work longer and harder.

And Now a Word from the Home Front

Although your staff may be exposed to the message "Work longer
and harder" while they're at the office, they're getting a very different
message at home. The message at home is, "Life is passing you
by. Your laundry is piling up in the closet, your babies are uncuddled,
your spouse is starting to look elsewhere. There is only one


VIENNA WAITS FOR YOU 15

time around on this merry-go-round called life, only one shot at the
brass ring. And if you use your life up on COBOL.,."

But you know when the truth is told,
That you can get what you want or you can just get old.
You're going to kick off before you even get halfway through.
When will you realize . . . Vienna waits for you?


—"The Stranger," Billy Joel

The Vienna that waits for you, in Billy Joel's phrase, is the
last stop on your personal itinerary. When you get there, it's all
over. If you think your project members never worry about such
weighty matters, think again. Your people are very aware of the one
short life that each person is allotted. And they know too well that
there has got to be something more important than the silly job
they're working on.

There AIn?i No .Such Thing as Overtime

Overtime for salaried workers is a figment of the naive manager's
imagination. Oh, there might be some benefit in a few extra hours
worked on Saturday to meet a Monday deadline, but that's almost
always followed by an equal period of compensatory "undertime"
while the workers catch up with their lives. Throughout the effort
there will be more or less an hour of undertime for every hour of
overtime. The trade-off might work to your advantage for the short
term, but for the long term it will cancel out

Slow down you crazy child,

And take the phone off the hook and disappear for a while.

It's all right. You can afford to lose a day or two.

When will you realize . . . Vienna waits for you?

Just as the unpaid overtime was largely invisible to the Spanish
Theory manager (who always counts the week as forty hours
regardless of how much time the people put in), so too is the undertime
invisible. You never see it on anybody's time sheet. It's time
spent on the phone or in bull sessions or just resting. Nobody can


16 PEOPLEWARE

really work much more than forty hours, at least not continually and
with the level of intensity required for creative work.

Overtime is like sprinting: It makes some sense for the last
hundred yards of the marathon for those with any energy left, but if
you start sprinting in the first mile, you're just wasting time. Trying
to get people to sprint too much can only result in loss of respect for
the manager. The best workers have been through it all before; they
know enough to keep silent and roll their eyes while the manager
raves on that the job has got to get done by April. Then they take
their compensatory undertime when they can, and end up putting in
forty hours of real work each week. The best workers react that
way; the others are workaholics.

Workaholics

Workaholics will put in uncompensated overtime. They'll work
extravagant hours, though perhaps with declining effectiveness. Put
them under enough pressure and they will go a long way toward
spoiling their personal lives. But only for a while. Sooner or later
the message comes through to even the most dedicated workaholic:

Slow down, you're doing fine,
You can't be everything you want to be before your time.
Although it's so romantic on the borderline tonight.
But when will you realize . . . Vienna waits for you?


Once that idea is digested, the worker is lost forever after to
the project. The realization that one has sacrificed a more important
value (family, love, home, youth) for a less important value (work)
is devastating. It makes the person who has unwittingly sacrificed
seek revenge. He doesn't go to the boss and explain calmly and
thoughtfully that things have to change in the future—he just quits,
another case of burnout. One way or the other, he's gone.

Workaholism is an illness, but not an illness like alcoholism
that affects only the unlucky few. Workaholism is more like the
common cold: Everyone has a bout of it now and then. Our purpose
in writing about it here is not so much to discuss its causes and
cures, but to address the simpler problem of how you, the manager,
ought to deal with your workaholics. If you exploit them to the hilt
in typical Spanish Theory fashion, you'll eventually lose them. No
matter how desperately you need them to put in all those hours, you


VIENNA WAITS FOR YOU 17

can't let them do so at the expense of their personal lives. The loss
of a good person isn't worth it. This point goes beyond the narrow
area of workaholism, into the much more complex subject of meaningful
productivity.

Productivity: Winning Battles and Losing Wars

Next time you hear someone talking about productivity, listen carefully
to hear if the speaker ever uses the word turnover. Chances
are that he or she will not. In years of hearing productivity discussed
and in hundreds of articles about it, we have never encountered
a single expert that had anything to say about the related subject
of turnover. But what sense can it possibly make to discuss one
without the other? Consider some of the things that organizations
typically do to improve productivity:

. pressure, people to put in more hours
. mechanize the process of product development
. compromise the quality of the product (more about this in
the next chapter)
. standardize procedures
Any of these measures can potentially make the work less enjoyable
and less satisfying. Hence, the process of improving productivity
risks worsening turnover. That doesn't say you can't improve productivity
without paying a turnover price. It only says you need to
take turnover into account whenever you set out to attain higher
productivity. Otherwise, you may achieve an "improvement" that is
more than offset by the loss of your key people.

Most organizations don't even keep statistics on turnover.
Virtually none can tell you what replacement of an experienced
worker costs. And whenever productivity is considered, it is done
as though turnover were nonexistent or cost-free. The Eagle project
at Data General is a case in point The project was a Spanish Theory
triumph: Workaholic project members put in endless unpaid overtime
hours to push productivity to unheard of levels. At the end of
the project, virtually the entire development staff quit What was the
cost of that? No one even figured it into the equation.

Productivity has to be defined as benefit divided by cost. The
benefit is observed dollar savings and revenue from the work per



18 PEOPLEWARE

formed, and cost is the total cost, including replacement of any
workers used up by the effort.

Reprise

During the past year, I did some consulting for a project
that was proceeding so smoothly that the project
manager knew she would deliver the product on schedule.
She was summoned in front of the management
committee and asked for a progress report. She said
she could guarantee that her product would be ready by
the deadline of March 1, exactly on time according to
the original estimate. The upper managers chewed over
that piece of unexpected good news and then called her
in again the next day. Since she was on time for March
1, they explained, the deadline had been moved up to
January 15.

—TRL

A schedule that the project could actually meet was of no value
to those Spanish Theory managers, because it didn't put the people
under pressure. Better to have a hopelessly impossible schedule to
extract more labor from the workers.

Chances are, you've known one or more Spanish Theory
managers during your career. It's all very well to smile at their
short-sightedness, but don't let yourself off the hook too easily.
Each of us has succumbed at one time or another to the short-term
tactic of putting people under pressure to get them to work harder.
In order to do mis, we have to ignore their decreased effectiveness
and the resultant turnover, but ignoring bad side effects is easy.
What's not so easy is keeping in mind an inconvenient truth like this
one:

People under time pressure don't work better;
they Just work faster.

In order to work faster, they may have to sacrifice the quality
of the product and their own job satisfaction.


Chapter 4


QUALITY—IF TIME PERMITS


Twentieth centurypsychological theory holds that man's character
is dominated by a small number of basic instincts: survival,
self-esteem, reproduction, territory, and so forth. These are built
directly into the brain's firmware. You can consider these instincts
intellectually without great passion (that's what you're doing now),
but when you feel them, there is always passion involved Even the
slightest challenge to one of these built-in values can be upsetting.

Whenever strong emotions are aroused, it's an indication that
one of the brain's instinctive values has been threatened. A novice
manager may believe that work can be completed without people's
emotions ever getting involved but if you have any experience at all
as a manager, you have learned the opposite. Our work gives us
plenty of opportunity to exercise the emotions.

Chances are, you can think of at least one incident when a
person's emotions did flare up as a direct result of something purely
work-related Consider that incident now and ask yourself (probably
for the nth time), Where did all the emotion come from? Without
knowing anything about your specific incident, we're willing to bet
that threatened self-esteem was a factor. There may be many and
varied causes of emotional reaction in one's personal life, but in the
workplace, the major arouser of emotions is threatened self-esteem.

We all tend to tie our self-esteem strongly to the quality of the
product we produce—not the quantity of product, but the quality,
(For some reason, there is little satisfaction in turning out huge
amounts of mediocre stuff, although that may be just what's
required for a given situation.) Any step you take that may jeopar



20 PEOPLEWARE

dize the quality of the product is likely to set the emotions of your
staff directly against you.

The Flight from Excellence

Managers jeopardize product quality by setting unreachable deadlines.
They don't think about their action in such terms; they think
rather that what they're doing is throwing down an interesting challenge
to their workers, something to help them strive for excellence.

Experienced (jaded) workers know otherwise. They know
that under the gun, their efforts will be overconstrained. There will
be no freedom to trade off resources to make on-time delivery possible.
They won't have the option of more people or reduced function.
The only thing to give on will be quality. Workers kept under
extreme time pressure will begin to sacrifice quality. They will push
problems under the rug to be dealt with later or foisted off onto the
product's end user. They will deliver products that are unstable and
not really complete. They will hate what they're doing, but what
other choice do they have?

The hard-nosed, real-world manager part of you has an
answer to all this: "Some of my folks would tinker forever with a
task, all in the name of 'Quality.' But the market doesn't give a
damn about that much quality—it's screaming for the product to be
delivered yesterday and will accept it even in a quick-and-dirty
state." In many cases, you may be right about the market, but the
decision to pressure people into delivering a product that doesn't
measure up to their own quality standards is almost always a mistake.


We managers tend to think of quality as just another attribute
of the product, something that may be supplied in varying degrees
according to the needs of the marketplace. It's like the chocolate
sauce you pour onto a homemade sundae: more for people who
want more, and less for people who want less.

The builders' view of quality, on the other hand, is very different.
Since their self-esteem is strongly tied to the quality of the
product, they tend to impose quality standards of their own. The
minimum that will satisfy them is more or less the best quality they
have achieved in the past. This is invariably a higher standard than
what the market requires and is willing to pay for.


QUALITY—IF TIME PERMITS 21

"The market doesn't give a damn about that much quality."
Read those words and weep, because they are almost always true.
People may talk in glowing terms about quality or complain bitterly
about its absence, but when it comes time to pay the price for quality,
their true values become apparent. On a software project, for
instance, you might be able to make the following kind of presentation
to your users: "We can extrapolate from empirical evidence that
the Mean Time Between Failures for this product is now approximately
1.2 hours. So if we deliver it to you today, on time, it will
have very poor stability. If we put in another three weeks, we can
forecast MTBF of approximately 2,000 hours, a rather respectable
result." Expect to see some Olympic-class hemming and hawing.
The users will explain that they are as quality-conscious as the next
fellow, but three weeks is real money.

Speaking of software, that industry has accustomed its clients
to accept in-house developed application programs with an average
defect density of one to three defects per hundred lines of code!
With sublime irony, this disastrous record is often blamed on poor
quality consciousness of the builders. That is, those same folks
who are chided for being inclined to "tinker forever with a program,
all in the name of 'Quality'" are also getting blamed for poor
Let's put the blame where it belongs. He who pays the piper is
calling for a low-quality tune. By regularly putting the development
process under extreme time pressure and then accepting poor-quality
products, the software user community has shown its true quality
standard.


All of this may sound like a diatribe against software users and
against the standards of the marketplace in general, but it needn't be
taken that way. We have to assume that the people who pay for our
work are of sound enough mind to make a sensible trade-off between
quality and cost. The point here is that the client's perceived
needs for quality in the product are often not as great as those of the
builder. There is a natural conflict. Reducing the quality of a product
is likely to cause some people not to buy, but the reduced market
penetration that results from virtually any such quality reduction will
often be more than offset by increased profit on each item sold.

Allowing the standard of quality to be set by the buyer, rather
than the builder, is what we call the flight from excellence. A market-
derived quality standard seems to make good sense only as long
as you ignore the effect on the builder's attitude and effectiveness.


22 PEOPLEWARE

In the long run, market-based quality costs more. The lesson
here is,

Quality, far beyond that required by the end user,
is a means to higher productivity.

If you doubt that notion, imagine the following gedanken
experiment: Ask one hundred people on the street what organization
or culture or nation is famous for high quality. We predict that more
than half the people today would answer, "Japan." Now ask a different
hundred people what organization or culture or nation is
famous for high productivity. Again, the majority can be expected
to mention, "Japan." The nation that is an acknowledged quality
leader is also known for its high productivity.

Wait a minute. How is it possible that higher quality coexists
with higher productivity? That flies in the face of the common wisdom
that adding quality to a product means you pay more to build it.
For a clue, read the words of Tajima and Matsubara, two of the
most respected commentators on the Japanese phenomenon:

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.

Quality Is Free, But . . .

Philip Crosby presented this same concept in his book, Quality Is
Free, published in 1979. In this work, Crosby gave numerous
examples and a sound rationale for the idea that letting the builder set
a satisfying quality standard of his own will result in a productivity
gain sufficient to offset the cost of improved quality.

We have an awful inkling that Crosby's book has done more
harm than good in industry. The problem is that the great majority
of managers haven't read it, but everybody has heard the title. The
title has become the whole message. Managers everywhere are
enthusing over quality: "The sky's the limit for quality, we'll have
as much free quality as we can get!" This hardly boils down to a
positive quality consciousness. The attitude is just the opposite of
what Crosby advocates.


QUALITY—IF TIME PERMITS 23

The real message of the linked quality and productivity effects
needs to be presented in slightly different terms:

Quality Is free, but only to those who are willing
to pay heavily for it.

The organization that is willing to budget only zero dollars and
zero cents for quality will always get its money's worth, A policy
of "Quality—If Time Permits" will assure that no quality at all
sneaks into the product.

Hewlett-Packard is an example of an organization that reaps
the benefits from increased productivity due to high, builder-set
quality standards. The company makes a cult of quality. In such an
environment, the argument that more time or money is needed to
produce a high-quality product is generally not heard. The result is
that developers know they are part of a culture that delivers quality
beyond what the marketplace requires. Their sense of quality
identification works for increased job satisfaction and some of the
lowest turnover figures seen anywhere in the industry.

Power of Veto

In some Japanese companies, notably Hitachi Software and parts of
Fujitsu, the project team has an effective power of veto over delivery
of what they believe to be a not-yet-ready product. No matter that
the client would be willing to accept even a substandard product, the
team can insist that delivery wait until its own standards are
achieved. Of course, project managers are under the same pressure
there that they are here: They're being pressed to deliver something,
anything, right away. But enough of a quality culture has been built
up so that these Japanese managers know better than to bully their
workers into settling for lower quality.

Could you give your people power of veto over delivery? Of
course it would take nerves of steel, at least the first time. Your
principal concern would be that Parkinson's Law would be working
against you. That's an important enough subject to warrant a chapter
of its own.


Chapter 5


PARKINSON'S LAW REVISITED


Writing in 1954, the British author C. Northcote Parkinson
introduced the notion that work expands to fill the time allocated for
it, now known as Parkinson's Law.

If you didn't know that few managers receive any management
training at all, you might think there was a school they all went to
for an intensive course on Parkinson's Law and its ramifications.
Even managers that know they know nothing about management
nonetheless cling to that one axiomatic truth governing people and
their attitude toward work: Parkinson's Law. It gives them the
strongest possible conviction that-the only way to get work done at
all is to set an impossibly optimistic delivery date.

Parkinson's Law and Newton's Law

Parkinson's Law is a long way from being axiomatic. It's not a law
in the same sense that Newton's law is a law. Newton was a scientist.
He investigated the gravitational effect according to the strictest
scientific method. His law was only propounded after rigorous
verification and testing. It has stood the test of some two hundred
years of subsequent study.

Parkinson was not a scientist. He collected no data, he probably
didn't even understand the rules of statistical inference. Parkinson
was a humorist. His "law" didn't catch on because it was so
true. It caught on because it was funny.

O/l


PARKINSON'S LAW REVISITED 25

Of course, Parkinson's Law wouldn't be funny if there
weren't a germ of truth in it. Parkinson cites examples of his law as
observed in a fictitious government bureaucracy, some believe patterned
on the British Post Office. Bureaucracies are prone to such
problems, because they give little job-derived satisfaction to their
workers. But you probably don't work in a bureaucracy. Even if
you do, you go to great lengths to make sure that your people are
spared its effects, otherwise they'd never get anything done. The
result is that your people have the possibility of lots ofjob-derived
satisfaction. That leads to a simple truth worth stating:

Parkinson's Law almost certainly doesn't apply to
your people.

Their lives are just too short for any loafing on the job. Since
they enjoy their work, they are disinclined to let it drag on forever—
that would just delay the satisfaction they all hanker for. They
are as eager as you are to get the job done, provided only that they
don't have to compromise their standard of quality.

You Wouldn't Be Saying This If You'd Ever Met
Our Herb

Every manager, at least some time in his or her life, has to deal with
a worker who does seem to be avoiding work, or who seems to
have no standard of quality, or who just can't get the job done.
Doesn't that confirm Parkinson's Law?

In a healthy work environment, the reasons that some people
don't perform are lack of competence, lack of confidence, and lack
of affiliation with others on the project and the project goals. In
none of these cases is schedule pressure liable to help very much.
When a worker seems unable to perform and seems not tacare at all
about the quality of his work, for example, it is a sure sign that the
poor fellow is overwhelmed by the difficulty of the work. He
doesn't need more pressure. What he needs is reassignment, possibly
to another company.




Even on the rare occasion when leaning on someone is the
only option, the manager is the last person to do the leaning. It
works far better when the message comes from the team. We've
seen cases of well-knit teams in which the manager would have had
to get in line to yell at the one person who wasn't pulling along with
everyone else.

We'll have more to say in later chapters about teams and
building a sensible chemistry for team formation. The point here is
not what does work, but what doesn't: Treating your people as
Parkinsonian workers doesn't work. It can only demean and demotivate
them.

Some Data from the University of New South Wales

Of course, the Parkinson's Law mentality is not going to go away
just because we say it ought to. What would help to convert managers
would be some carefully collected data proving that Parkinson's
Law doesn't apply to most workers. (Forget for a moment
that Parkinson supplied no data at all to prove that the law did apply,
he just reiterated it for a few hundred pages.)

Two respected researchers at the University of New South
Wales, Michael Lawrence and Ross Jeffery, run a project survey
every year. They measure live projects in industry according to a
common data collection standard. Each year they focus on a different
aspect of project work. The 1985 survey provided some data
that reflects on the inapplicability of Parkinson's Law. It isn't
exactly the "smoking gun" that completely invalidates the law, but it
ought to be sufficient to raise some doubts.

Lawrence and Jeffery set out to determine the productivity
effect of various estimating methods. They had in mind to prove (or
disprove) the folkloric belief that developers (programmers, in this
case) work harder if they're trying to meet their own estimates. For
each of 103 projects studied, Lawrence and Jeffery formed a
weighted metric of productivity, similar tothe CoCoMoproductivity
metrics advocated by Barry Boehm. They then grouped the sample
into subgroups, depending on how the original estimates we're
made. A partial result is presented in Table 5.1:


PARKINSON'S LAW REVISITED 27


Table 5.1
Productivity by Estimation Approach
(Partial Result)


EFFORT ESTIMATE AVERAGE NUMBER OF
PREPARED BY PRODUCTIVITY PROJECTS



Programmer alone 8.0 19
Supervisor alone 6.6 23
Programmer & supervisor 7.8 16


So far, the results confirm the folklore: Programmers seem to
be a bit more productive when they can do the estimate themselves,
compared to cases in which the manager does it without even consulting
them. When the two do the estimating together, the results
tend to fall in between.

In 21 projects studied that same year, estimates were prepared
by a third party, typically a systems analyst. These cases substantially
outperformed the projects in which estimating was done by a
programmer and/or a supervisor:

Table 5.2
Productivity by Estimation Approach
(Partial Result)


EFFORT ESTIMATE AVERAGE NUIVBEROF
PREPARED BY PRODUCTIVITY PROJECTS


Programmer alone 8.0 19
Supervisor alone 6.6 23
Programmer & supervisor 7.8 16
Systems analyst 9.5 21




These last data points do not confirm the folkloric view at all.
Why should the programmer work harder to meet the analyst's estimate
than he would for even his own? It may be tempting to explain
this away as a simple anomaly in the data. But if you believe as we
do that bad estimates are always a demotivating factor, then this data
doesn't need explaining away at all. The systems analyst tends to be
a better estimator than either the programmer or the supervisor. He
or she typically knows the work in as much detail, but is not hampered
by the natural optimism of the person who's actually going to
do the job or the political and budgetary biases of the boss. Moreover,
systems analysts typically have more estimating experience;
they are able to project the effort more accurately because they've
done more of it in the past and have thus learned their lessons.

Bad estimates, hopelessly tight estimates, sap the builders'
energy. Capers Jones, known for his metric studies of development
projects, puts it this way: "When the schedule for a project is totally
unreasonable and unrealistic, and no amount of overtime can allow it
to be made, the project team becomes angry and frustrated ... and
morale drops to the bottom." It doesn't matter too terribly much
whether the "totally unreasonable and unrealistic" schedule comes
from the boss or from the builders themselves. People just don't
work very effectively when they're locked into a no-win situation.

The most surprising part of the 1985 Jeffery-Lawrence study
appeared at the very end, when they investigated the productivity of
24 projects for which no estimates were prepared at all. These projects
far outperformed all the others:

Table 5.3

Productivity by Estimation Approach
(Full Result)

EFFORT ESTIMATE AVERAGE NUMBER OF
PREPARED BY PRODUCTIVITY PROJECTS

Programmer alone 8.0 19
Supervisor alone 6.6 23
Programmer & supervisor 7.8 16
Systems analyst 9.5 21
(No estimate) 12.0 24


PARKINSON'S LAW REVISITED 29

Projects on which the boss applied no schedule pressure
whatsoever ("Just wake me up when you're done.") had the highest
productivity of all. Of course, none of this proves that Parkinson *s
Law doesn't apply to development workers. But doesn't it make
you wonder?

The decision to apply schedule pressure to a project needs to
be made in much the same way you decide whether or not to punish
your child: If your timing is impeccable so the justification is easily
apparent, then it can help. If you do it all the time, it's just a sign
that you've got troubles of your own.

Variation on a Theme by Parkinson

A slight variation on Parkinson's Law produces something that is
frighteningly true in many organizations:

Organizational busy work tends to expand to fill

the working day.

This effect can start when the company is founded, and become
worse every year. It's part of the reason that very mature companies
are less fun to work for. The few remaining employees of the Dutch
East India Company (founded in 1651 and once the largest company
in the world) now spend forty hours a week filling out forms.
Notice that in this case, it's the company that exhibits Parkmsonian
behavior rather than its employees. We'll return to this theme in
PartlL


Chapter 6
LAETRILE


Laetrile is a colorless liquid pressed from the soft bitter insides
of apricot pits. In Sweden, you can buy the stuff in the grocery
store for about the price of almond extract, and you use it in baking
much as you would any other extract. In Mexico, you can buy it for
fifty dollars a drop to "cure" your fatal cancer. Of course, it doesn't
cure anything. All the evidence demonstrates that it is a cruel fraud.
But since no one else has anything at all to offer them, terminal patients
accept the claims of the laetrile peddlers, no matter how outrageous.
People who are desperate enough don't look very hard at the
evidence.

Similarly, lots of managers are "desperate enough," and their
desperation makes them easy victims of a kind of technical laetrile
that purports to improve productivity. There is seldom any evidence
at all to support the claims of what they buy. They, too, dispense
with evidence because their need is so great.

Lose Fat While Sleeping

One day, in a moment of high silliness, I started clipping
ads for products that claimed to boost productivity
by one hundred percent or more. Within a very short
time, I had quite a pile. The amazing thing was the
diversity of the means advertised to yield big productivity
gains. There were seminars, packaged programs,
methodologies, books, scheduling boards, hardware
monitors, computing languages, and newsletters.

30


LAETRILE 31


Going uptown on the subway that night, I spotted one
final ad on the back of the New York Post. It read,
"Lose Fat While Sleeping." It seemed to fit right in
with the others.

_TRL

We're all under a lot of pressure to improve productivity. The
problem is no longer susceptible to easy solutions, because all the
easy solutions were thought of and applied long ago. Yet some
organizations are doing a lot better than others. We're convinced
that those who do better are not using any particularly advanced
technology. Their better performance can be explained entirely by
their more effective ways of handling people, modifying the workplace
and corporate culture, and implementing some of the measures
that we'll discuss in Parts II through IV. The relative inefficacy of
technology may be a bit discouraging, at least in the short run,
because the kinds of modification to corporate culture we advocate
are hard to apply and slow to take effect. What would be far preferable
is the coupon you cut out of the back pages of a magazine to
send in with a few thousand bucks, so that some marvelous
productivity gimmick will come back to you in the mail. Of course,
it may not do much for you, but then easy non-solutions are often
more attractive than hard solutions.

The Seven Sirens

The false hopes engendered by easy technological non-solutions are
like those Sirens that tempted poor Odysseus. Each one reaches out
to you with her own beguiling message, an attractive fallacy that
leads nowhere. As long as you believe them, you're going to be
reluctant to do the hard work necessary to build a healthy corporate
culture.

The particular Sirens that plague you are a function of what
industry you work in. We've identified seven from the field that we
know best, software development, and we present them below
along with our own responses:

SEVEN FALSEHOPES OFSOFTWAREMANAGEMENT

1. There is some new trick you've missed that could send productivity
soaring.



Response: You are simply not dumb enough to have missed
something so fundamental. You are continually investigating
new approaches and trying out the ones that make the
most sense. None of the measures you've taken or are likely
to take can actually make productivity soar. What they
do, though, is to keep everybody healthy: People like to
keep their minds engaged, to learn, and to improve. The
line that there is some magical innovation out there that
you've missed is a pure fear tactic, employed by those with
a vested interest in selling it.

2. Other managers are getting gains of one hundred percent or
two hundred percent or more!
Response: Forget it. The typical magical tool that's touted
to you is focused on the coding and testing part of the life
cycle. But even if coding and testing went away entirely,
you couldn't expect a gain of one hundred percent. There is
still all the analysis, negotiation, specification, training,
acceptance testing, conversion, and cutover to be done.

3. Technology is moving so swiftly that you're being passed by.
Response: Yes, technology is moving swiftly, but (the high-
tech illusion again) most of what you're doing is not truly
high-tech work. While the machines have changed enormously,
the business of software development has been
rather static. We still spend most of our time working on
requirements and specification, the low-tech part of our
work. Productivity within the software industry has
improved by three to five percent a year, only marginally
better than the steel or automobile industry.

4. Changing languages will give you huge gains.
Response: Languages are important because they affect the

way you think about a problem, but again, they can have

impact only on the implementation part of the project.


LAETRILE 33

Because of their exaggerated claims, some of our newer languages
qualify as laetrile. Sure, it may be better to do a new
application in PowerBuilder., for example, rather than
COBOL, but even before PowerBuilder, there were better
ways than COBOL: niche tools that make inquiry and update
pretty easy. Unless you've been asleep at the switch for the
past few decades, change of a language won't do much for
you. It might give you a five percent gain (nothing to
sneeze at), but not more.

5. Because of the backlog, you need to double productivity
immediately.
Response: The much talked about software backlog is a
myth. We all know that projects cost a lot more at the end
than what we expected them to cost at the beginning. So the
cost of a system that didn't get built this year (because we
didn't have the capacity for it) is optimistically assumed to
be half of what it would actually cost to build, or even less.
The typical project that's stuck in the mythical backlog is
there because it has barely enough benefit to justify building
it, even with the most optimistic cost assumptions. If we
knew its real cost, we'd see that project for what it is: an
economic loser. It shouldn't be in the backlog, it should be
in the reject pile.

6. You automate everything else; isn't it about time you
automated away your software development staff?
Response: This is another variation of the high-tech illusion:
the belief that software developers do easily automatable
work. Their principal work is human communication
to organize the users' expressions of needs into formal procedure.
That work will be necessary no matter how we
change the life cycle. And it's not likely to be automated.


34 PEOPLEWARE

7. Your people will work better if you put them under a lot of
pressure.
Response: They won't—they'll just enjoy it less.

So far, all this is rather negative. If leaning on people is
counterproductive, and installing the latest technological doodad
won't help much either, then what is the manager supposed to do?

This Is Management

In my early years as a developer, I was privileged to
work on a project managed by Sharon Weinberg, now
president of the Codd and Date Consulting Group. She
was a walking example of much of what I now think of
as enlightened management. One snowy day, I dragged
myself out of a sickbed to pull together our shaky system
for a user demo. Sharon came in and found me
propped up at the console. She disappeared and came
back a few minutes later with a container of soup.
After she'd poured it into me and buoyed up my spirits,
I asked her how she found time for such things with all
the management work she had to do. She gave me her
patented grin and said, Tom, this is management."

—TDM

Sharon knew what all good instinctive managers know: The
manager's function is not to make people work, but to make it possible
for people to work.


PART II
THE OFFICE ENVIRONMENT


In order to make it possible for people to work, you have to
come to grips with those factors that sometimes make it
The causes of lost hours and days are numerous but not so different
from one another. They are mostly failures, in one form or another,
of the environment that the organization has provided to help you
work. The phone rings off the hook, the printer service man stops
by to chat, the copier breaks down, the chap from the blood drive
calls to revise donation times, Personnel continues to scream for the
updated skills survey forms, time sheets are due at 3 p.mu, lots more
phone calls come in,... and the day is gone. Some days you never
spend a productive minute on anything having to do with getting
actual work done.

It wouldn't be so bad if all these diversions affected the manager
alone, while the rest of the staff worked on peacefully. But as
you know, it doesn't happen that way. Everybody*s work day is
plagued with frustration and interruption. Entire days are lost, and
nobody can put a finger on just where they went. If you wonder
why almost everything is behind schedule, consider this:

There are a million ways to lose a work day, but

not even a single way to get one back.

In Part II, we'll look into some of the causes of lost time and
propose measures that you can take to create a healthy, work-conducive
environment.


Chapter 7
THE FURNITURE POLICE


Suppose that in addition to your present duties, you were
made responsible for space and services for your people. You
would have to decide on the kind of workplace for each person,
and the amount of space and expense to be allocated. How would
you go about it? You'd probably want to study the ways in which
people use their space, the amount of table space required, and
the number of hours in a day spent working alone, working with
one other person, and so forth. You'd also investigate the impact
of noise on people's effectiveness. After all, your folks are intellect
workers—they need to have their brains in gear to do their
work, and noise does affect their ability to concentrate.

For each of the observed kinds of disturbance, you'd look
for any easy, mechanical way to protect your workers. Given a
reasonably free hand, you would investigate the advantages of
closed space (one- and two- and three-person offices) versus open
space. This would allow you to make a sensible trade-off of cost
against privacy and quiet. Finally, you would take into account
people's social needs and provide some areas where a conversation
could take place without disturbing others.

It should come as no surprise to you that the people who do
control space and services for your company (particularly if it's a
large company) don't spend much time thinking about any of the
concerns listed above. They don't collect any raw data, they
don't strive to understand complex issues like productivity. Part

37



38 PEOPLEWARE

of the reason for this is that they are not themselves doing the
kind of work likely to suffer from a poor environment. They
often constitute a kind of Furniture Police, whose approach to the
problem is nearly the opposite of what your own would be.

The Police Mentality

The head of the Furniture Police is that fellow who wanders
through the new office space the day before your staff is supposed
to move in, with thoughts like these running through his head:

"Look at how beautifully uniform everything is! You
have no way to tell whether you're on the fifth floor or
the sixth! But once those people move in, it will all be
ruined. They'll hang up pictures and individualize their
little modules, and they'll be messy. They'll probably
want to drink coffee over my lovely carpet and even eat
then- lunch right here (shudder). Oh dear, oh dear, oh
dear..."

This is the person who promulgates rules about leaving each desk
clean at night and prohibiting anything to be hung on the partitions
except perhaps a company calendar. The Furniture Police at
one company we know even listed a number for spilled coffee on
the Emergency Numbers decal affixed to every phone. We were
never there when anyone called the number, but you could probably
expect white-coated maintenance men to come careening
through the halls in an electric cart with flashing lights and a siren
going ooogah-ooogah.

While on break at a seminar, a fellow told me that his
company doesn't allow anything to be left on the desk
at night except for a five-by-seven photo of the worker's
family. Anything else and in the morning you'll find
stuck to your desktop a nasty note (on corporate letterhead
yet) from the Furniture Police. One guy was so
offended by these notes that he could barely restrain
his anger. Knowing how he felt, his fellow workers
played a joke on him: They bought a picture frame
from the local five~and-dime store, choosing one with a
photograph of an all-American family as a sample.
Then they replaced the photo of his own family with the
other. Under the photo was what looked like a note


THE FURNITURE POLICE 39


from the Furniture Police, stating that since his family
didn't pass muster by the corporate standards, he was
being issued an "official company family photo" to
leave on his desk.

—TRL

The Uniform Plastic Basement

To get a better feeling for the police mentality, look at the floor plan
of Figure 7.1, now becoming common in organizations all over
America:


Figure 7.1. Typical office floor plan.

This scheme deals forthiightly with the complicated question of who
should have windowed space: no one. The trouble with windows
is that there aren't enough of them to give one to every worker. If
some people have windows and others do not, you'll be able to tell
that you're in George's workspace, for instance, by simple observation.
We can't have that, now, can we?

But look at the side effect. The most frequently traveled paths,
from elevator to cubicle or from cubicle to cubicle, do not pass in


40 PEOPLEWARE

front of any window. Where such floor plans are used, the windows
are not utilized at all, the window corridors are always empty.
We first encountered the window corridor plan on the twentieth
floor of a new skyscraper—there were magnificent views in every
direction, views that virtually nobody ever saw. The people in that
building may as well have worked in a basement.

Basement space is really preferable from the point of view of
the Furniture Police, because it lends itself more readily to uniform
layouts. But people work better in natural light. They feel better in
windowed space and that feeling translates directly into higher quality
of work. People don't want to work in a perfectly uniform space
either. They want to shape their space to their own convenience and
taste. These inconvenient facts are typical of a general class of inconveniences
that come from dealing with human workers.

Visiting a few dozen different organizations each year, as we
do, quickly convinces you that ignoring such inconvenient facts is
intrinsic to many office plans. Almost without exception, the
workspaces given to intellect workers are noisy, interruptive, unprivate,
and sterile. Some are prettier than others, but not much more
functional. No one can get any work done there. The very person
who could work like a beaver in a quiet little cubbyhole with two
large folding tables and a door that shuts is given instead an EZ-
Whammo Modular Cubicle with seventy-three plastic appurtenances.
Nobody shows much interest in whether it helps or hurts
effectiveness.

All this may seem a bit harsh on those solid citizens who plan
America's office space. If you think so, consider one last manifestation
of the mind-set of these planners. It is something so monstrous
that you have to wonder why it's tolerated at all: the company
paging system. Hard as this may be to believe, some companies
actually use a public address system to interrupt perhaps thousands
of workers, people who are trying to think, in order to locate one:
BONG! [static] ATTENTION, ATTENTION! PAGING PAUL PORTULACA.
WILL PAUL PORTULACA PLEASE CALL THE PAGING CENTER.
If you position yourself well, you can sometimes see thirty or forty
salaried workers raise their heads at the initial bong and listen politely
through the whole message, then look down again wondering
what they were doing before they were interrupted.

Police-mentality planners design workplaces the way they
would design prisons: optimized for containment at minimal cost.
We have unthinkingly yielded to them on the subject of workplace
design, yet for most organizations with productivity problems, there


THE FURNITURE

is no more fruitful area for improvement than the workplace. As
long as workers are crowded into noisy, sterile, disruptive space,
it's not worth improving anything but the



Chapter 8


"YOU NEVERGETANYTHING DONE
AROUND HERE BETWEEN 9 AND 5"


Part of the folklore among development workers in all sectors
of our economy is, "Overtime is a fact of life." This implies that the
work can never get done in the amount of time worth allocating for
it. That seems to us a rather dubious proposition. Overtime is certainly
a fact of life in the software industry, for example, but that
industry could hardly have come through a period of such phenomenal
prosperity if the software built on the whole weren't worth a lot
more than was paid for it. How to explain then the fact that software
people as well as workers in other thought-intensive positions
are putting in so many extra hours?

A disturbing possibility is that overtime is not so much a
means to increase the quantity of work time as to improve its average
quality. You hear evidence that this is true in such frequently
repeated statements as these:

"I get my best work done in the early morning, before

anybody else arrives."

"In one late evening, I can do two or three days' worth

of work."

"The office is a zoo all day, but by about 6 p.m., things

have quieted down and you can really accomplish

something."


"YOUNEVERGETANYTHINGDONEAROUNDHERE..." 43


To be productive, people may come in early or stay late or even try
to escape entirely, by staying home for a day to get a critical piece of
work done. One of our seminar participants reported that her new
boss wouldn't allow her to work at home, so on the day before an
important report was due, she took a sick day to get it done.

Staying late or arriving early or staying home to work in peace
is a damning indictment of the office environment. The amazing
thing is not that it's so often impossible to work in the workplace;
the amazing thing is that everyone knows it and nobody ever does
anything about it.

A Policy of Default

A California company that I consult for is very much
concerned about being responsive to its people. Last
year, the company's management conducted a survey in
which all programmers (more than a thousand) were
asked to list the best and the worst aspects of their
jobs. The manager who ran the survey was very excited
about the changes the company had undertaken. He
told me that the number two problem was poor communication
with upper management. Having learned
that from the survey, the company set up quality circles,
gripe sessions, and other communication programs.
I listened politely as he described them in
detail. When he was done, I asked what the number one
problem was. "The environment," he replied.
"People were upset about the noise." I asked what
steps the company had taken to remedy that problem.
"Oh, we couldn't do anything about that," he said.
"That's outside our control,"

—JDM

All the more discouraging is that the manager wasn't even
particularly embarrassed about failing to take steps to improve the
environment. It was as though the programmers had complained
that there was too much gravity, and management had decided after
due reflection that they couldn't really do much about it; it was a
problem whose solution was beyond human capacity. This is a
policy of total default

Changing the environment is not beyond human capacity.
Granted, there is a power group in almost every company, a Furni



44 PEOPLEWARE

ture Police group, that has domain over the physical environment.
But it's not impossible to make them see reason or to wrest control
away from them. For the rest of this chapter, we'll present some of
the reasons why you're going to have to do exactly that. In subsequent
chapters, we'll give some hints about how to go about it

Coding War Games: Observed Productivity Factors

Beginning in 1977, we have conducted some sort of a public productivity
survey each year. So far, more than three hundred organizations
worldwide have participated in these studies. From 1984
on, we have run our annual survey as a sort of public competition in
which teams of software implementors from different organizations
compete to complete a series of benchmark coding and testing tasks
in minimal time and with minimal defects. We call these competitions
Coding War Games. Here's how they work:

. The basic competing unit is a pair of implementors from the
same organization. The pair members do not work together,
but in fact members work against each other as well as against
all the other pairs.
. Both pair members perform exactly the same work, designing,
coding, and testing a medium-sized program to our fixed
specification.
. As they go through the exercise, participants record the time
spent on a time log.
. After all participant testing is completed, the products are subjected
to our standard acceptance test
. Participants work in their own work areas during normal work
hours using the same languages, tools, terminals, and computers
that they use for any other project.
. All results are kept confidential.
From 1984 to 1986, more than 600 developers from 92 companies
have participated in the games. The benefit to the individual
is learning how he or she compares with the rest of the competitors.


"YOU NEVER GET ANYTHING DONE AROUND ..." 45

The benefit to the company is learning how well it does against other
companies in the sample. And the benefit to us is learning a lot
about what factors affect productivitys factors discussed in the
of this chapter.

Individual Differences

One of the first results of the coding wars was proof of a huge difference
between competing individuals. Of course, this had been
observed before. Figure 8.1, for example, is a composite of the
findings from three different sources on the extent of variation
among individuals:


Figure 8.1. Productivity variation among individuals.

Three rales of thumb seem to apply whenever you measure variations
in performance over a sample of individuals:

. Count on the best people outperforming the worst by about
10:1.
. Count on the best performer being about 2.5 times better than
the median performer.
. Count on the half that are better-than-median performers outdoing
the other half by more than 2:1.

50 PEOPLEWARE

The top quartile, those who did the exercise most rapidly and
effectively, work in space that is substantially different from that of
the bottom quartile. The-top performers' space is quieter, more private,
better protected from interruption, and there is more of it

What Did We Prove?

The data presented above does not exactly prove that a better workplace
will help people to perform better. It may only indicate that
people who perform better tend to gravitate toward organizations
that provide a better workplace. Does that really matter to you? In
the long run, what difference does it make whether quiet, space, and
privacy help your current people to do better work or help you to
attract andkeep betterpeople?

If we proved anything at all, it's that a policy of default on
workplace characteristics is a mistake. If you participate in or manage
a team of people who need to use their brains during the work
day, then the workplace environment is your business. It isn't
enough to observe, "You never get anything done around here
between 9 and 5," and then turn your attention to something else.
It's dumb that people can't get work done during normal work
hours. It's time to do something about it


Chapter 9
SAVING MONEY ON SPACE


If your organization is anything like those studied in our last
three annual surveys, the environmental trend is toward less
privacy, less dedicated space, and more noise. Of course, the
obvious reason for this is cost. A penny saved on the workspace
is a penny earned on the bottom line, or so the logic goes. Those
who make such a judgment are guilty of performing a cost/benefit
study without benefit of studying the benefit. They know the cost
but haven't any idea what the other side of the equation may be.
Sure, the savings of a cost-reduced workplace are attractive, but
compared to what? The obvious answer is that the savings have to
be compared to the risk of lost effectiveness.

Given the current assault on workplace costs, it's surprising
how little the potential savings are compared to the potential risk.
The entire cost of workspace for one developer is a small percentage
of the salary paid to the developer. How small depends on
such factors as real-estate values, salary levels, and lease versus
buy tactics. In general, it varies in the range from 6 to 16 percent.
For a programmer/analyst working in company-owned space, you
should expect to pay $15 directly to the worker for every dollar
you spend on space and amenities. If you add the cost for
employee benefits, the total investment in the worker could easily
be 20 times the cost of his or her workplace.

The 20:1 ratio implies that workplace cost reduction is risky.
Attempts to save a small portion of the one dollar may cause you to
sacrifice a large portion of the twenty. The prudent manager could

51



52 PEOPLEWARE

not consider moving people into cheaper, noisier, and more crowded
quarters without first assessing whether worker effectiveness
would be impaired. So, you might expect that the planners who
have undertaken a decade-long program to change our office space
into the voguish open-plan format must first have done some very
careful productivity analysis. Not to do so would have demonstrated
an irresponsible unconcern for the environment

A Plague Upon the Land

Irresponsible unconcern for the environment is, unfortunately, the
norm for our times. We show it in the despoliation of our natural
resources, so why not in workplace design? In a prophetic science
fiction story, John Brunner describes pollution of the air, soil, and
water continuing through the end of the twentieth century. No matter
how bad the pollution gets, almost no one complains. Like a
vast herd of imperturbable sheep, the inhabitants of Brunner's world
try to ignore the problem until, finally, all possibility for survival is
lost. Then and only then do they take notice. Brunner called his
book The Sheep Look Up.

American office workers have barely looked up while their
work quarters have been degraded from sensible to silly. Not so
long ago, they worked in two- and three-person offices with walls,
doors, and windows. (You remember walls, doors, and windows,
don't you?) In such space, one could work in quiet or conduct
meetings with colleagues without disrupting neighbors.

Then, without warning, open-plan seating was upon us like a
plague upon the land. The advocates of the new format produced
not one shred of evidence that effectiveness would not be impaired.
They really couldn't. Meaningful measurement of productivity is a
complex and elusive thing. It has to be performed differently in
each different work sector. It takes expertise, careful study, and lots
of data collection.

The people who brought us open-plan seating simply weren't
up to the task. But they talked a good game. They sidestepped the
issue of whether productivity might go down by asserting very
loudly that the new office arrangement would cause productivity to
go up, and up a lot, by as much as three hundred percent. They
published articles, many of them crafted from the purest sculpted
smoke. They gave their pronouncements impressive titles like this
one from Data Management magazine: "Open-Plan DP Environment


SAVING MONEY ON SPACE 53

Boosts Employee Productivity." After that promising title, the
author got right to the heart of the matter:

The fundamental areas of consideration in designing an
open-plan office within an information processing environment
are: the system's electrical distribution
capabilities, computer support capabilities and manufacturer
and dealer service.

Period. That's it. That's all of the "fundamental areas of consideration."
No mention of the fact that a person is going to be trying to
work in that space.

Also missing from that article and from others like it is any
notion of what employee productivity is all about. There was no
evidence in the Data Management article to support the title. The
only method we have ever seen used to confirm claims that the open
plan improvesproductivity isproof byrepeated assertion.

We Interrupt This Diatribe to Bring You a Few Facts

Before drawing the plans for its new Santa Teresa facility, IBM
violated all industry standards by carefully studying the work habits
of those who would occupy the space. The study was designed by
the architect Gerald McCue with the assistance of IBM area managers.
Researchers observed the work processes in action in current
workspaces and in mock-ups of proposed workspaces. They
watched programmers, engineers, quality control workers, and
managers go about their normal activities. From their studies, they
concluded that a minimum accommodation for the mix of people
slated to occupy the new space would be the following:

. 100 square feet of dedicated space per worker
. 30 square feet of work surface per person
. noise protection in the form of enclosed offices or six-foot
high partitions (they ended up with about half of all professional
personnel in enclosed one- and two-person
offices)



The rationale for building the new laboratory to respect these
minimums was simple: People in the roles studied needed the space
and quiet in order to perform optimally. Cost reduction to provide
workspace below the minimum would result in a loss of effectiveness
that would more than offset the cost savings. Other studies
have looked into the same questions and come up with more or less
the same answers. The McCue study was different only in one
respect: IBM actually followed the recommendations and built a
workplace where people can work. (We predict this company will
gofar.)

How does the rest of the world match up to IBM's minimum
standard workplace? Figure 9.1 shows a distribution of dedicated
space per person computed across participants in our 1984 and 1985
surveys.


DEDICATED SPACE

(SQUARE FEET/PERSON)

Figure 9.1. Range of dedicated floor space.

Only 16 percent of participants had 100 square feet or more of
workspace. Only 11 percent of participants worked in enclosed
offices or with greater than 6-foot high partitions. There were more
participants in the 20-to 30-square-foot group than in the 100square-
foot group. (With less than 30 square feet, you're trying to
work in a total floor space less than the table space provided at Santa
Teresa.)


SAVING MONEY ON SPACE 55

Across the whole Coding War Games sample, 58 percent
complained that their workplace was not acceptably quiet; 61 percent
complained that it wasn't sufficiently private; 54 percent reported
that they had a workplace at home that was better than the workplace
provided by the company.

Workplace Quality and Product Quality

Companies that provide a small and noisy workplace are comforted
by the belief that these factors don't really matter. They explain
away all the complaints about noise, for instance, as workers campaigning
for the added status of bigger, more private space. After
all, what difference could a little noise make? It's just something to
help keep people awake.

In order to determine whether attitude toward noise level had
any correlation to work, we divided our sample into two parts, those
who found the workplace acceptably quiet and those who didn't
Then we looked at the number of workers within each group who
had completed the entire exercise without a single defect.

Workers who reported before the exercise that their

workplace was acceptably quiet were one-third more

likely to deliver zero-defect work.

As the noise level gets worse, this trend seems to get stronger.
For example, one company that was represented by 50 participants
had an unacceptable noise rating 22 percent higher than average. At
that company, those who did zero-defect work came disproportionately
from the subset who found the noise level acceptable:

Zero-defect workers: 66 percent reported noise level okay

One-or-more-defect workers: 8 percent reported noise level okay

Again, as with the other environmental correlations, we asked that
participants assess the noise level in their environments before performing
the exercise.

Note that we made no objective measurements of noise levels.
We simply asked people whether they found the noise level acceptable
or not. As a result, we cannot distinguish between those who
worked in a genuinely quiet workplace and those who were well
adapted to (not bothered by) a noisy workplace. But when a worker
complains about noise, he's telling you he doesn't fit into either of


56 PEOPLEWARE

those fortunate subsets. He's telling you that he is likely to bedefect-prone. You ignore that message at your peril.

A Discovery of Nobel Prize Significance

Some days people are just more highly perceptive than other days.
For us, a landmark day for perceptiveness was February 3, 1984,
when we began to notice a remarkable relationship between people
density and dedicated floor space per person. As the one goes up,
the other seems to go down! Careful researchers that we are, we
immediately began to document the trend. In a study of 32,346
companies throughout the Free World, we confirmed a virtuallyperfect inverse relationshipbetween thetwo:


Figure 9.2. The DeMarco/Llster Effect.

Imagine our excitement as the data points were collected. We experienced
some of the thrill that Ohm must have felt when discovering
his law. This was truly the stuff of which Nobel Prizes are made.
Remember that you saw it here first: Worker density (say, workers
per thousand square feet) is inversely proportional to dedicated
space per person.

If you're having trouble seeing why this matters, you're not
thinking about noise. Noise is directly proportional to density, so


SAVING MONEY ON SPACE 57

halving the allotment of space per person can be expected to double
the noise. Even if you managed to prove conclusively that a programmer
could work in 30 square feet of space without being hopelessly
space-bound, you still wouldn't be able to conclude that 30
square feet is adequate space. The noise in a 30-square-foot matrix
is more than three times the noise in a 100-square-foot matrix. That
could mean the difference between a plague of product defects and
none at all.

Hiding Out

When the office environment is frustrating enough, people look for
a place to hide out. They book the conference rooms or head for the
library or wander off for coffee and just don't come back. No, they
are not meeting for secret romance or plotting political coups; they
are hiding out to work. The good news here is that your people
really do need to feel the accomplishment of work completed. They
will go to great extremes to make that happen. When the crunch is
on, people will try to find workable space no matter where.

In my college years at Brown University, the trick for
getting through the mad season when all the papers
came due was to find some place quiet to work. At
Brown, we had a system of carrels in the library
stacks. The only acceptable interruption there was a
fire alarm, and it had to be for a real Tire. We got to be
experts at finding out-of-the-way carrels where no
one would ever think to look for us. The fifth-floor
carrels of the Bio Library were my favorite, but a
friend even went so far as to work in the crypt below
the American Library—yes, the crypt, complete with
the remains of the woman who had endowed the building.
It was cool, it was marble, and as my friend
reported, it was quiet, very quiet.

—TRL

If you peek into a conference room, you may find three people
working in silence. If you wander to the cafeteria mid-afternoon,
you're likely to find folks seated, one to a table, with their work
spread out before them. Some of your workers can't be found at
all. People are hiding out to get some work done. If this rings true
to your organization, it's an indictment. Saving money on space
may be costing you a fortune.


INTERMEZZO


An intermezzo is a fanciful digression inserted between
the pages of an otherwise serious work (oh, well,
fairly serious work).

PRODUCTIVITY MEASUREMENT AND
UNIDENTIFIED FLYING OBJECTS


Why can't we just measure productivity in good and bad
workplaces and finally nail down the relationship between the
environment and worker effectiveness? That approach would certainly
be suitable for an assembly line, but when the work being
measured is of a more intellectual nature, it's not so obvious. Measurement
of intellect-worker productivity suffers from a reputation
of being a soft science. In some people's minds, it's little better
than the study ofunidentified flying objects.

An experiment to test the effect of the workplace on productivity
is easy enough to design:

. measure the amount of work completed in the new workplace
. measure the cost of doing that work
. compare the size and cost in the new workplace to the size
and cost in the old
Design was easy, the implementation is harder: For instance, how
do you assess the amount of work involved in a market study or in anew circuit design or in the development of a new loan policy?
There may be some emerging standards (as there are in the software
industry, for instance), but these are sure to require extensive local
data collection and the building of in-house expertise. Most organi



INTERMEZZO 59

zations don't even attempt to measure the amount of intellect work
performed. They don't measure costs very effectively either.

There may be statistics on the total quantity of hours applied to
a given problem within an organization, but no indication of the
quality of these hours (more about this in Chapter 10). And even if
organizations could measure size and cost in a new workplace, they
would have no past figures to compare them to. Managers are likely
to furrow their brows over this problem, sigh, and conclude that
variation in productivity is beyond comprehension. But it's really
not as bad as that.

Gilb's Law

Two years ago at a conference In London, I spent an
afternoon with Tom Gilb, the author of Software
Metrics and dozens of published papers on measurement
of the development process. I found that an easy
way to get him heated up was to suggest that something
you need to know is "unmeasurable." The man was
offended by the very idea. He favored me that day with
a description of what he considered a fundamental truth
about measurability. The idea seemed at once so wise
and so encouraging that I copied it verbatim into my
journal under the heading of Gilb's Law:

Anything you need to quantify can be
measured In some way that Is superior to
not measuring it at all.

Gilb's Law doesn't promise you that measurement will
be free or even cheap, and it may not be perfect—just
better than nothing.

—TDM

Of course it's possible to measure productivity. If you convoke
a group of people doing the same or similar work and give
them a day to work out a sensible self-measurement scheme, they
will come up with something that confirms Gilb's Law. The numbers
they then generate will give them some way to tune their own
performance and, when combined with quality circles or some other
peer review mechanism, a way to learn from each other's methods.
The averages computed over the group will give management a reli



60 PEOPLEWARE

able indicator of the effect of such parameters as improvement in the
office environment

In the field that we know best, software construction, there are
any number of workable productivity measurement schemes, such
as those listed in the Notes. There is even a service that will come in
and assess your productivity and show you where you stand compared
to the rest of the industry. An organization that can't make
some assessment of its own programming productivity rate just
hasn't tried hard enough.

But You Can't Afford Not to Know

Suppose there were a foolproof productivity measurement tool and it
was being applied to your people's work this very moment. Suppose
the measurers came in to tell you that your productivity was in
the top five percent of organizations doing your kind of work.
You'd be pleased. You'd wander around the halls with a secret
smile, thinking warm thoughts about your people: "I suspected they
were pretty good, but this is terrific news."

Ooops. The measurers have just come back to tell you that
they must have been holding the graph upside down when they gave
you the first report. You're actually in the bottom five percent. Now
your day is ruined. You find yourself thinking, "I might have
known it all along. Who could expect to get any work done with
turkeys like these on the staff?" In the one case you're ecstatic, in
the other despondent. But in neither case are you particularly surprised.
You're not likely to be surprised no matter what the news
is, because you haven't the foggiest idea what your productivity is.

Given that there are ten to one differences from one organization
to another, you simply can't afford to remain ignorant of
where you stand. Your competition may be ten times more effective
than you are in doing the same work. If you don't know it, you
can't begin to do something about it. Only the market will understand.
It will take steps of its own to rectify the situation, steps that
do not bode well for you.

Measuring with Your Eyes Closed

Work measurement can be a useful tool for method improvement,
motivation, and enhanced job satisfaction, but it is almost never
used for these purposes. Measurement schemes tend to become
threatening and burdensome.


INTERMEZZO 61

In order to make the concept deliver on its potential, management
has to be perceptive and secure enough to cut itself out of the
loop. That means the data on individuals is not passed up to management,
and everybody in the organization knows it. Data
collected on the individual's performance has to be used only to
benefit that individual. The measurement scheme is an exercise in
self-assessment, and only the sanitized averages are made available
to the boss.

This concept is a hard one to swallow for many managers.
They reason that they could use the data to do some aspects of their
work more effectively (precision promotion, for example, or even
precision firing). Their company has paid to have the data collected,
so why shouldn't it be made available to them? But collection of
this very sensitive data on the individual can only be effected with
the active and willing cooperation of the individual. If ever its confidentiality
is compromised, if ever the data is used against even one
individual, the entire data collection scheme will come to an abrupt
halt.

The individuals are inclined to do exactly the same things with
the data that the manager would do. They will try to improve the
things they do less well or try to specialize in the areas where they
already excel. In the extreme case, an individual may even "fire"
himself in order to stop depending on skills that have been found to
be deficient The manager doesn't really need the individual data in
order to benefit from it.


Chapter 10


BRAIN TIMEVERSUS
BODY TIME


As part of the Santa Teresa pre-construction study described in
Chapter 9, McCue and his associates looked into the amounts of
time that developers spend in different work modes. For a typical
day, they concluded that workers divide their time as follows:

Table 10.1
How Developers Spend Their Time

PERCENT
WORK MODE OF TIME


Working alone 30%
Working with one other person 50%
Working with two or more people 20%

The significance of this table from a noise standpoint should
be evident: Thirty percent of the time, people are noise sensitive,
and the rest of the time, they are noise generators. Since the workplace
is a mixture of people working alone and people working
together, there is a clash of modes. Those working alone are particularly
inconvenienced by this clash. Though they represent a minority
at any given time, it's a mistake to ignore them, for it is dur



BRAIN TIME VERSUS BODY TIME 63

ing their solitary work periods that people actually do the work. The
rest of the time is dedicated to subsidiary activities, rest, and chatter,

Flow

During single-minded work time, people are ideally in a state that
psychologists call flow. Flow is a condition of deep, nearly
meditative involvement. In this state, there is a gentle sense of euphoria,
and one is largely unaware of the passage of time: "I began
to work. I looked up, and three hours had passed." There is no
consciousness of effort; the work just seems to, well, flow. You've
been in this state often, so we don't have to describe it to you.

Not all work roles require that you attain a state of flow in
order to be productive, but for anyone involved in engineering,
design, development, writing, or like tasks, flow is a must. These
are high-momentum tasks. It's only when you're in flow that the
work goes well.

Unfortunately, you can't turn on flow like a switch. It takes a
slow descent into the subject, requiring fifteen minutes or more of
concentration before the state is locked in. During this immersion
period, you are particularly sensitive to noise and interruption. A
disruptive environment can make it difficult or impossible to attain
flow.

Once locked in, the state can be broken by an interruption that
is focused on you (your phone, for instance) or by insistent noise
("Attention! Paging Paul Portulaca. Will Paul Portulaca please call
extension..."). Each time you're interrupted, you require an additional
immersion period to get back into flow. During this immersion,
you're not really doing work.

An Endless State of No-Flow

If the average incoming phone call takes five minutes and your
reimmersion period is fifteen minutes, the total cost of that call in
flow time (work time) lost is twenty minutes. A dozen phone calls
use up half a day. A dozen other interruptions and the rest of the
work day is gone. This is what guarantees, "You never get anything
done around here between 9 and 5."




Just as important as the loss of effective time is the accompanying
frustration. The worker who tries and tries to get into flow
and is interrupted each time is not a happy person. He gets tantalizingly
close to involvement only to be bounced back into awareness
of his surroundings. Instead of the deep mindfulness that he
craves, he is continually channeled into the promiscuous changing
of direction that the modern office tries to force upon him. Put
yourself in the position of the participant who filled out her Coding
War Games time sheet with these entries:

WORK PERIOD TYPE OF WHAT INTERRUPTION CAUSED THE
FROM—TO WORK END OF THIS WORK PERIOD?


2:13-2:17 Coding Phone call

2:20 -2:23 Coding Boss stopped in to chat
2:26 -2:29 Coding Question from colleague
2:31-2:39 Coding Phone call
2:41 -2:44 Coding Phone call
Figure 10.1. Segment of a CWG time sheet.

A few days like that and anybody is ready to look for a new
job. If you're a manager, you may be relatively unsympathetic to
the frustrations of being in no-flow. After all, you do most of your
own work in interrupt mode—that's management—but the people
who work for you need to get into flow. Anything that keeps them
from it will reduce their effectiveness and the satisfaction they take
in their work. It will also increase the cost of getting the work done.

Time Accounting Based on Flow

Chances are, your company's present time accounting system is
based on a conventional model. It assumes that work accomplished
is proportional to the number of paid hours put in. When workers
fill out their time sheets in this scheme, they make no distinction
between hours spent doing meaningful work and hours of pure
frustration. So they're reporting body time rather than brain time.

To make matters worse, the task accounting data is also used
for payroll purposes. This compels employees to make sure that the
total number of hours logged always balances out to some predeter



BRAIN TIME VERSUS BODY TIME 65

mined total for the week, regardless of how much overtime or
undertime they put in. The resultant compilation of official fictions
may be acceptable to the Payroll Department: It is equivalent to the
worker responding "Present" to a roll call. But for any productivity
assessment or analysis of where the money went, this record is too
badly tainted to be useful.

The phenomena of flow and immersion give us a more realistic
way to model how time is applied to a development task. What
matters is not the amount of time you're present, but the amount of
time that you're -working at full potential. An hour in flow really
accomplishes something, but ten six-minute work periods sandwiched
between eleven interruptions won't accomplish anything.

The mechanics of a flow accounting system are not very complex.
Instead of logging hours, people log uninterrupted hours. In
order to get honest data, you have to remove the onus from logging
too few uninterrupted hours. People have to be assured that it's not
their fault if they can only manage one or two uninterrupted hours a
week; rather it's the organization's fault for not providing a flow-
conducive environment. Of course, none of this data can go to the
Payroll Department. You'll still have to retain some body-present
time reporting for payroll purposes.

A task accounting scheme that records flow hours instead of
body-present hours can give you two huge benefits: First, it focuses
your people's attention on the importance of flow time. If they
learn that each work day is expected to afford them at least two or
three hours free from interruption, they will take steps to protect
those hours. The resultant interrupt-consciousness helps to protect
them from casual interruption by peers.

Second, it creates a record of how meaningful time is applied
to the work. If a product is projected to require three thousand flow
hours to complete, then you've got a valid reason to believe you're
two-thirds done when two thousand flow hours have been logged
against it. That kind of analysis would be foolish and dangerous
with body-present hours.

The E-Factor

If you buy the idea that a good environment ought to afford workers
the possibility of working in flow, the collection of uninterrupted-
hour data can give you some meaningful metric evidence ofjust how
good or bad your environment is. Whenever the number of


66 PEOPLEWARE

uninterrupted hours is a reasonably high proportion of total hours,
up to approximately forty percent, then the environment is allowing
people to get into flow when they need to. Much lower numbers
imply frustration and reduced effectiveness. We call this metric the
Environmental Factor or E-Factor:

Uninterrupted Hours

E-Factor =
Body-Present Hours

A somewhat surprising result of collecting E-Factor data is
that factors vary within an organization from site to site. For example,
we recorded E-Factors as high as 0.38 and as low as 0.10 in
one large government agency. The agency's head assured us that
the physical environment had to remain as it was, no matter how
bad, because characteristics of the workplace were determined by
government policy and by civil service level. In spite of this, we
found some sites where workers were housed in a tight, noisy open
office plan, and others where workers doing the same job and at the
same level worked in pleasant four-person offices. Not so surprising
was the finding that E-Factors were markedly higher in the four-
person offices.

E-Factors can be threatening to the status quo. (Perhaps
you'd better not even start collecting the data.) If you report 0.38
for a sensible space and 0.10 for a cost-reduced space, for example,
people are likely to conclude that the cost reduction didn't make
much sense. Workers in the 0.10 space will have to put in 3.8 times
as much body-present time to do a given piece of work as those in
the 0.38 space. That means having work done in the cost-reduced
space could result in a performance penalty that is far greater than
the space savings. Clearly, such a heretical line of reasoning must
be suppressed. Otherwise we jeopardize all those wonderful
"savings" to be gained by tightening up your workers' spaces.
Burn this book before anyone else sees it.

A Garden of Bandannas

When you first start measuring the E-Factor, don't be surprised if it
hovers around zero. People may even laugh at you for trying to
record uninterrupted hours: "There is no such thing as an uninter



BRAIN TIME VERSUS BODY TIME 67

rupted hour in this madhouse." Don't despair. Remember that
you're not just collecting data, you're helping to change people's
attitudes. By regularly noting uninterrupted hours, you are giving
official sanction to the notion that people ought to have at least some
interrupt-free time. That makes it permissible to hide out, to ignore
the phone, or to close the door (if, sigh, there is a door).

At one of our client sites, there was a nearly organic phenomenon
of red bandannas on dowels suddenly sprouting from the
desks after a few weeks of E-Factor data collection. No one in
power had ever suggested that device as an official Do Not Disturb
signal; it just happened by consensus. But everyone soon learned
its significance and respected it.

Of course, there have always been certain cranky souls who
have stuck up Do Not Disturb signs. Peer pressure makes it hard
for most of us to show that interruptions aren't welcome, even for a
part of the day. A little emphasis on the E-Factor helps to change
the corporate culture and make it acceptable to be uninterruptable.

Thinking on the Job

In my years at Bell Labs, we worked in two-person
offices. They were spacious, quiet, and the phones
could be diverted. I shared my office with Wendl
Thomis who went on to build a small empire as an
electronic toy maker. In those days, he was working on
the ESS fault dictionary. The dictionary scheme relied
upon the notion of n-space proximity, a concept that
was hairy enough to challenge even Wendl's powers of
concentration. One afternoon, I was bent over a program
listing while Wendl was staring into space, his
feet propped up on the desk. Our boss came in and
asked, "Wendll What are you doing?" Wendl said,
"I'm thinking." And the boss said, "Can't you do that
at home?"

—TDM

The difference between that Bell Labs environment and a typical
modern-day office plan is that in those quiet offices, one at least had
the option of thinking on the job. In most of the office space we
encounter today, there is enough noise and interruption to make any
serious thinking virtually impossible. More is the shame: Your


68 PEOPLEWARE

people bring their brains with them every morning. They could put
them to work for you at no additional cost if only there were a small
measure of peace and quiet in the workplace.


Chapter 11
THE TELEPHONE


When you begin to collect data about the quality of work time,
your attention is automatically focused on one of the principal causes
of interruption, the incoming telephone call. It's nothing to field
fifteen calls in a day. It may be nothing, but because of the associated
reimmersion time, it can use up most of that day. When the
day is over and you're wondering where the time went, you can
seldom even remember who called you or why. Even if some of the
calls were important, they may not have been worth interrupting
your flow. But who's got the nerves to wait out a ringing phone?
The very thought of it makes you tense between the shoulders.

Visit to an Alternate Reality

Now just relax and imagine a less complicated world in which the
phone has not yet been invented. In such a world, you write a note
to propose lunch or a meeting and you get a note in response.
Everyone plans ahead a little bit more. It's common to take half an
hour in the morning to read and answer your mail. There are no
loud bells in your life.

Wednesday mornings in this alternate reality are dedicated to
meetings of your company's pension trust investment committee.
Imagine for the moment you are one of the employee representatives
charged with watching where the money is placed. On this particular
Wednesday, an inventor is scheduled to make a presentation to
the committee. The inventor has plans to change the world, if only
you'll invest in his new contraption. His name is A.G. Bell.

69




"Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the BellOPhone!" (The man
unwraps a large black box with a crank on the side and an enormous
bell attached to the top.) 'This is the future. We're going to put one
of these on every desk in America. Homes, too! It will get to the
point where people can hardly imagine a world without them."

As he warms up to his subject, he begins gesticulating
enthusiastically and hopping around the room to make his points.
"BellOPhones everywhere you look, all of them hooked up together
with wires under the street or overhead. And now this is the really
exciting part: You can get your BellOPhone specifically connected
to somebody else's BellOPhone, even though it may be all the way
across the city or maybe in some other city. And when you've
connected itjust by entering the code, you can make the bellring on
the other fellow's machine. Not just some rinky-dink bell, either,
but a real heart-stopper."

He sets up a second device and connects it to the first, on the
other side of the room. By manipulating a dial on the face of the
first, he causes the other machine to come alive. It gives off a loud
BRRRRINNNNNNNGGGGGGG! Afterhalfasecond, itrings againand
then again and again, deafeningly.

"Now, what's a fellow got to do to stop this ringing? He's
got to race over to his BellOPhone and pick up the receiver." He
picks up the receiver on the ringing device and hands it to one of the
committee members. Then he bounds back to the other side of the
room and starts shouting into the mouthpiece of the originating
device. "Hello! Hello! Can you hear me? See that, I've got his
complete attention. Now I can sell him something, or get him to
lend me money or try to change his religion or whatever I want!"

The committee is stunned. You raise your hand and venture a
question, "Since nobody could possibly have missed the first ring,
why bother to repeat it?"

"Ah, that's the beauty of the BellOPhone," says A.G. "It
never gives you the chance to wonder whether you want to answer it
or not. No matter what you're involved in at the time it rings, no
matter how engrossed you are, you drop everything to answer it.
Otherwise, you know it will just keep on ringing. We're going to
sell billions of these things and never ever allow any to be sold that
ring only once."

The committee goes into a huddle, but it doesn't take very
long to come up with a judgment. You all decide without a dissenting
voice to throw this turkey out the door. The device is so
disruptive that if you were ever dumb enough to allow it to be


THE TELEPHONE 71

installed, nobody would ever get any work done around the office.
A few years' effect of the BellOPhone and we'd all be reduced to
buying goods from Taiwan and Korea. And our country might even
have a negative balance of trade.

Tales from the Crypt

Of course, there's no turning the calendar back. The telephone is
here to stay. You can't get rid of it, nor would you probably want
to. You certainly can't remove phones from people's desks without
causing them to revolt. But there are certain steps that can be taken
to minimize the negative impact of interruptive calls. The most important
of these is to realize how much we have allowed the telephone
to dominate our time allocation.

Do you often interrupt a discussion with co-workers or friends
to answer a phone? Of course you do. You don't even consider not
answering the phone. Yet what you're doing is a violation of the
common rules of fairness, taking people out of order, just because
theyinsist loudly(BBBRRRRHINNNNGGGGG!) onyour attention. Not
only do you do this to others, you let them do it to you. And you're
so inured to this abuse that you hardly take note of it. Only in the
most outrageous cases is it clear that something is definitely wrong
with such behavior:

Nearly twenty years ago, I was standing in line at the

parts department of the New York dealer for Morgan

Motorcars Limited. I had a non-functioning Morgan

(the only kind) and was hoping to get some new

carburetor needles. People who drive British sports

cars are undoubtedly masochists, but the treatment in

that parts line was just too much. The clerk took one

phone call after another while everyone in line waited.

When I got to the head of the line, he took four calls in

quick succession before I could get in a single word. I

began thinking, Why should people calling from the

comfort of their homes get priority over those of us

standing here in this stupid line? Why should those

mere window shoppers be taken ahead of customers

with money in their hands, ready to buy? In a state of

pure red rage, I suggested that he let the phone ring

for a while and take people ahead of bells. To my




surprise, he was more annoyed by my behavior than I
was by his. He informed me very huffily that phones
get priority over people, and that was all there was to
it. My not liking it was as pointless as not liking the
Atlantic Ocean. The facts of life weren't going to change
just to suit me.

—TDM

It is natural that the telephone should have reshaped somewhat
the way we do business, but it ought not to have blinded us to the
effects of the interruptions. At the least, managers ought to be alert
to the effect that interruption can have on their own people who are
trying to get something done. But often, it's the manager who is the
worst offender. One of the programmers in the 1985 Coding War
Games wrote on his environmental survey, "When my boss is out,
he has his calls switched to me." What could that manager have
been thinking? What was going on in the mind of the systems
department head who wrote mis in a memo:

"It has come to my attention that many of you, when you
are busy, are letting your phones ring for three rings and
thus get switched over to one of the secretaries. With all
these interruptions, the secretaries can never get any
productive work done. The official policy here is that
when you're at your desk you will answer your phone
before the third ring "

A Modified Telephone Ethic

Enough is enough. The path toward sanity in working conditions is
a new attitude toward interruptions and toward the telephone. People
who are charged with getting work done must have some peace
and quiet to do it in. That means periods of total freedom from
interruptions. When they want to work in flow, they have to have
some efficient, acceptable way of ignoring incoming calls.
"Acceptable" means the corporate culture realizes that people may
sometimes choose to be unavailable for interruption by phone.
"Efficient" means that they don't have to wait out the bell in order to
get back to work.

There are workable schemes to help people free themselves
from phones and other interruptions when they find it necessary.


THE TELEPHONE 73

(Some of these cost money, and thus will be possible only in
organizations whose long-term view extends beyond next
Tuesday.)

When electronic mail was first proposed, most of us thought
that the great value of it would be the saving in paper. That turns
out to be trivial, however, compared to the saving in reimmersion
time. The big difference between a phone call and an electronic
mail message is that the phone call interrupts and the e-mail does
not; the receiver deals with it at his or her own convenience. The
amount of traffic going through these systems proves that priority
"at the receiver's convenience" is acceptable for the great majority
of business communications. After a period of acclimatization,
workers begin to use electronic mail in preference to intra-company
calls. It doesn't make all the calls go away, only most.

You probably have the technology already. Most of us now
have perfectly acceptable voice-mail and e-mail. The trick isn't
in the technology; it is in the changing of habits. (Gentle reader,
please note this recurring theme.) We have to learn to ask. Does
this news or this question deserve an interrupt? Can I continue to
get work done while I wait for an answer? Does this message
need immediate recognition? If not, how long can it wait without
causing a problem?

Once you ask these questions, your best mode of communication
is usually pretty obvious, except for one problem: How
reliable is the mode? For example, How long will your e-mail sit
there? Will it actually get read, or will it go directly to the
inbound-only filing cabinet?

In return for some uninterrupted brain time, people have to
be interruptible for at least part of each day, and everybody has to
agree that e-mail will be checked with reasonable frequency—
say, three times per day or so.

Don't Try This Yourself...

/ have been working with a manager in Los Angeles for
the last few years. He manages a system test group,
which at times runs two or three shifts. E-mail is the
way his team communicates, since at any given
moment about one third of the team's members may be
asleep. He told me about his morning mail drill: As
soon as he's awake, he fires up his laptop to download
all his e-mail while he showers. While he has his juice


74 PEOPLEWARE

and cereal, he reads his new mail and decides which
pieces need immediate response. On his way to
work—a typical LA. resident, he has about a fifty-mile
commute—he answers his critical pieces. When he
gets to the office, he docks his laptop and sends his
responses. The trick is, he drives in by himself every
morning.

—TRL

More important than any gimmick you introduce is a change
in attitude. People must learn that it's okay sometimes not to
answer their phones, and they must learn that their time—not just
the quantity but its quality—is important.


Chapter 12
BRING BACK THE DOOR


There are some prevalent symbols of success and failure in
creating a sensible workplace. The most obvious symbol of success
is the door. When there are sufficient doors, workers can control
noise and mterruptability to suit their changing needs. The most
obvious symbol of failure is the paging system. Organizations that
regularly interrupt everyone to locate one person are showing themselves
to be totally insensitive to the imperatives of a work-conducive
environment.

Manipulate these symbols and you not only call attention to
your concern for a workable environment, you also reap the immediate
associated advantage: People can get on with the work. But it
sounds like a tall order, to get rid of the paging system and bring
back the door. Is it beyond our capacity to effect these changes?

The Show Isn't Over Till the Fat Lady Sings

The degradation of working conditions that has affected most of us
over the past ten years has depended on the consent of the victim.
That doesn't mean that one such victim could have halted the trend
by saying, "No, I won't work in noisy, cramped, exposed space."
But it does mean that we as a group haven't hollered loud enough
and often enough about the counterproductive side effects of saving
money on space.

While most of us believed that the trend toward noisier, tighter
space was hurting productivity, we kept silent, because we lacked


76 PEOPLEWARE

the definitive statistical evidence that proved our case. The Furniture
Police, of course, didn't provide any proof at all to support their
contention that people would be just as productive working cheek-
by-jowl as they had been in a more sensible environment. They just
asserted that it was true.

We need to learn from them, learn to fight fire with fire. So,
the first step toward a sane environment is a program of repeated
assertion. If you believe that the environment is working against
you, you've got to start saying so. You'll need to create a forum for
other people to chime in too, perhaps with a survey of people's
assessment of their working conditions. (In one such survey at a
client company, workers cited seven negative aspects of their work,
things they thought of as productivity-limiters. Of these, the first
four were noise-related.)

As people begin to realize that they aren't alone in their feelings,
environmental awareness increases. And with this increased
awareness, two good things begin to happen: First, the environment
improves a bit as people try to be more thoughtful about noise
and interruption; and second, the consent of the victim is withdrawn.
It now becomes harder for upper management to take any
other step to improve productivity without first paying some attention
to the environment.

Don't expect the Establishment to roll over and play dead just
because you begin your campaign. There are (at least) three
counter-arguments bound to surface almost immediately:

. People don't care about glitzy office space. They're too
intelligent for that. And the ones who do care are just
playing status games.
. Maybe noise is a problem, but there are cheaper ways to
deal with it than mucking around with the physical layout.
We could just pipe in white noise or Muzak and cover up
the disturbance.
. Enclosed offices don't make for a vital environment. We
want people to interact productively, and that's what they
want, too. So walls and doors would be a step in the
wrong direction.

BRING BACK THE'DOOR 77

We deal with these objections in the next three subsections.

The Issue of Glitz

It's true that people don't care much about glitz. In one study after
another, workers failed to give much weight to decor in choosing,
for instance, among variously colored panels and fixtures. The
feeling seemed to be that depressing surroundings would be counterproductive,
but as long as the office wasn't depressing, then you
could happily ignore it and get down to work. If all we're shooting
for is an ignorable workplace, then money spent on high-fashion
decor is a waste.

The fact that workers don't care a lot about appearances is
often misinterpreted to mean that they don't care a lot about any of
the attributes of the workplace. If you ask them specifically about
noise, privacy, and table space, though, you'll hear some strongly
felt opinions that these characteristics matter a lot. This finding is
consistent with the idea of an ignorable workplace as ideal; one can't
ignore a workplace that is forever interrupting, paging, and generally
harassing the worker.

We find it particularly distressing to hear workers' concerns
about their environment dismissed as status-seeking, because it's
more often the case that higher management is guilty of status-seeking
in designing the workers' space. The person who is working
hard to deliver a high-quality product on time is not concerned with
office appearances, but the boss sometimes is. So we see the paradoxical
phenomenon that totally unworkable space is gussied up
expensively and pointlessly with plush carpets, black and chrome
furniture, corn plants that get more space than workers, and elaborate
panels. The next time someone proudly shows you around a
newly designed office, think hard about whether it's the functionality
of the space that is being touted or its appearance. All too
often, it's the appearance.

Appearance is stressed far too much in workplace design.
What is more relevant is whether the workplace lets you work or
inhibits you. Work-conducive office space is not a status symbol,
it's a necessity. Either you pay for it by shelling out what it costs,
or you pay for it in lost productivity.


78 PEOPLEWARE

Creative Space

In response to workers' gripes about noise, you can either treat the
symptom or treat the cause. Treating the cause means choosing isolation
in the form of noise barriers—walls and doors—and these
cost money. Treating the symptom is much cheaper. When you
install Muzak or some other form of pink noise, the disruptive noise
is drowned out at small expense. You can save even more money
by ignoring the problem altogether so that people have to resort to
tape recorders and earphones to protect themselves from the noise.
If you take either of these approaches, you should expect to incur an
invisible penalty in one aspect of workers' performance: They will
be less creative.

During the 1960s, researchers at Cornell University conducted
a series of tests on the effects of working with music. They polled a
group of computer science students and divided the students into
two groups, those who liked to have music in the background while
they worked (studied) and those who did not. Then they put half of
each group together in a silent room, and the other half of each
group in a different room equipped with earphones and a musical
selection. Participants in both rooms were given a Fortran programming
problem to work out from specification. To no one's
surprise, participants in the two rooms performed about the same in
speed and accuracy of programming. As any kid who does his
arithmetic homework with the music on knows, the part of the brain
required for arithmetic and related logic is unbothered by
music—there's another brain center that listens to the music.

The Cornell experiment, however, contained a hidden wild
card. The specification required that an output data stream be
formed through a series of manipulations on numbers in the input
data stream. For example, participants had to shift each number two
digits to the left and then divide by one hundred and so on, perhaps
completing a dozen operations in total. Although the specification
never said it, the net effect of all the operations was that each output
number was necessarily equal to its input number. Some people
realized this and others did not. Of those who figured it out, the
overwhelming majority came from the quiet room.

Many of the everyday tasks performed by professional workers
are done in the serial processing center of the left brain. Music
will not interfere particularly with this work, since it's the brain's
holistic right side that digests music. But not all of the work is cen



BRING BACK THE DOOR 79

tered in the left brain. There is that occasional breakthrough that
makes you say "Ahah!" and steers you toward an ingenious bypass
that may save months or years of work. The creative leap involves
right-brain function. If the right brain, is busy listening to 1001
Strings on Muzak, the opportunity for a creative leap is lost.

The creativity penalty exacted by the environment is insidious.
Since creativity is a sometime thing anyway, we often don't notice
when there is less of it. People don't have a quota for creative
thoughts. The effect of reduced creativity is cumulative over a long
period. The organization is less effective, people grind out the work
without a spark of excitement, and the best people leave.

Vital Space

The case against enclosed offices sooner or later gets around to the
"sterility" of working alone. But enclosed offices need not be one-
person offices. The two-or three- or four-person office makes a lot
more sense, particularly if office groupings can be made to align
with work groups. The worker who needs to spend fifty percent of
his time with one other person will spend most of that time with a
particular person. These two are natural candidates to share an
office.

Even in open-plan offices, co-workers should be encouraged
to modify the grid to put their areas together into small suites. When
this is allowed, people become positively ingenious in laying out the
area to serve all their needs: work space, meeting space, and social
space. Since they tend to be in interaction mode together or simultaneously
in flow mode, they have less noise clash with each other
than they would with randomly selected neighbors. The space has a
vital quality because interaction is easy and natural. A degree of
control over their space is viewed as an additional benefit.

Breaking the Corporate Mold

What could be less threatening than a proposal to allow people to
reorganize open-plan seating into shared suites instead of individual
cubicles? One of the great benefits of the kind of "office system"
(that is, no offices) that your company may have purchased is its
flexibility. At least that's what the EZ-Whammo Panel System
brochure says. So it should be easy enough to move things around.


80 PEOPLEWARE

Letting people form suites may seem nonthreatening, but we predict
that someone in the upper reaches of the organization will hate the
idea. The problem is that the hallowed principle of uniformity is
violated. By making everything uniform, the "owner" of a territory
exercises and demonstrates control. Like the gardener who plants
seeds exactly under a taut string so that the carrots will grow in a
perfect row, this manager is threatened by the kind of disorder that
nature (in this case, people's human nature) prefers.

The inconvenient fact of life is that the best workplace is not
going to be infinitely replicable. Vital work-conducive space for one
person is not exactly the same as that for someone else. If you let
them, your people will make their space into whatever they need it to
be and the result is that it won't be uniform. Each person's space
and each team's space will have a definite character of its own. If it
didn't, they'd go back and alter it until it did.

Management, at its best, should make sure there is enough
space, enough quiet, and enough ways to ensure privacy so that
people can create their own sensible workspace. Uniformity has no
place in this view. You have to grin and bear it when people put up
odd pictures or leave their desks a mess or move the furniture
around ormerge theiroffices. When they've gotitjust thewaythey
want it, they'll be able to put it out of their minds entirely and get on
with the work.


Chapter 13

TAKING UMBRELLA STEPS


For this final chapter on the office environment, we look into
characteristics of an ideal workplace, trying to shed some light on
concerns such as these:

. What kind of space would support your workers best to
make them comfortable, happy, and productive?
. What form of workspace would make these workers feelbest about themselves and about their work?
If you work in a typical, noisy, and dreadfully uniform
corporate space, such questions may seem almost cruel. But thinking
about ideal space is worthwhile. Someday, you may be in a
position to make it happen. Even today, you may be called upon to
provide some input to the process of workspace improvement. It's
sensible to indulge yourself a bit on the subject of space, just to
know where you ought to be headed. Where you ought to be
headed, in our opinion, is toward a workspace that has certain time-
proven characteristics.

There is one timeless way of building.

It is thousands of years old, and the same today as it has
always been.

81


82 PEOPLEWARE

The great traditional buildings of the past, the villages
and tents and temples in which man feels at home, have
always been made by people who were very close to the
center of this way. It is not possible to make great
buildings, or great towns, beautiful places, places
where you feel yourself, places where you feel alive,
except by following this way. And, as you will see, this
way will lead anyone who looks for it to buildings
which are themselves as ancient in their form, as the
trees and hiHs, and as our faces are.

—The Timeless Way of Building

Christopher Alexander, architect and philosopher, is best
known for his observations on the design process. He frames his
concepts in an architectural idiom, but some of his ideas have had
influence far beyond the field of architecture. (Alexander's book
Notes on the Synthesis of Form, for example, is considered a kind
of holy book by designers of all kinds.) Together with his
colleagues at the Center for Environmental Structure, Alexander set
out to codify the elements of good architectural design. The resultant
work is a three-volume set entitled The Timeless Way ofBuilding.
The effect of this work is still being debated. Alexander
believes that most modern architecture is bankrupt, and so most
modern architects are understandably a bit defensive about the man
and his ideas. But when you hold these books in your own hands
and examine their premises against your own experience, it's hard
not to take Alexander's side. His philosophy of interior space is a
compelling one. It helps you to understand what it is that has made
you love certain spaces and never feel comfortable in others.

Alexander's Concept of Organic Order

Imagine that your organization is about to build a complex of new
space. What is the first step in this process? Almost certainly, it is
development of a master plan. In most cases, this is a first and fatal
deviation from the Timeless Way of Building. Vital, exciting, and
harmonious spaces are never developed this way. The master plan
envisions hugeness and grandeur, steel and concrete spans, modular
approaches and replication to make an enormous whole of identical
components. The result is sterile uniformity and space that doesn't
work for anyone except the one Ego to whom it stands as a tribute.


TAKING UMBRELLA STEPS 83

Most monolithic corporate space can only be understood in
terms of its symbolic value to the executives who caused it to be
built This is their mark on the firmament, the lasting accomplishment
they leave behind. They gloat, "Look on my works, ye
Mighty, and despair!" Despair, of course, is exactly all you can do.
Your cubicle, infinitely repeated to the horizon, leaves you feeling
like a numbered cog. Whether it is TransAmerica's Orwellian tower
in San Francisco or AT&T's Madison Avenue mausoleum, the
result is depressingly the same: a sense of suffocation to the individual.


The master plan is an attempt to impose totalitarian order. A
single and therefore uniform vision governs the whole. In no two
places is the same function achieved differently. A side effect of the
totalitarian view is that the conceptualization of the facility is frozen
in time.

In place of the master plan, Alexander proposes a meta-plan.
It is a philosophy by which a facility can grow in an evolutionary
fashion to achieve the needs of its occupants. The meta-plan has
three parts:

. 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
Under the meta-plan, facilities evolve through a series of small steps
into campuses and communities of related buildings. By respecting
the shared principles, they retain a harmony of vision, but not a
sameness. Like mature villages, they begin to take on an evolved
charm. This is what Alexander calls organic order, as described
below and as shown in Figure 13.1.

This natural or organic order emerges when there is
perfect balance between the needs of the individual
parts of the environment, and the needs of the whole.
In an organic environment, every place is unique and
the different places also cooperate, with no parts left
over, to create a global whole—a whole which can be
identified by everyone who is a part of it.




The University of Cambridge is a perfect example of
organic order. One of the most beautiful features of
this university is the way the colleges—St. Johns,
Trinity, Trinity Hall, Clare, Kings, Peterhouse,
Queens—lie between the main street of the town and the
river. Each college is a system of residential courts,
each college has its entrance on the street, and opens
onto the river; each college has its own small bridge
that crosses the river, and leads to the meadows
beyond; each college has its own boathouse and its own
walks along the river. But while each college repeats
the same system, each one has its own unique
character. The individual courts, entrances, bridges,
boathouses and walks are all different.

—-The Oregon Experiment


Figure 13.1. Swiss town,
without a
an
maexample of organic order
ster plan.
Patterns

Each of the patterns of the Timeless Way of Building is an abstraction
about successful space and interior order. The central volume
of the set, A Pattern Language, presents 253 of these patterns and
weaves them into a coherent view of architecture. Some of the pat



TAKING UMBRELLA STEPS 85

terns have to do with light and roominess, others with decor, or
with the relationship between interior and exterior space, or with
space for adults, for children, for elders, or with traffic movement
around and through enclosed space. Each pattern is presented as a
simple architectural aphorism, together with a picture that illustrates
it and a lesson. In between, there is a discussion of the whys and
wherefores of the pattern. As an example, consider the following
illustration and extract from Pattern 183, Workspace Enclosure:


Figure 13.2. Workspace enclosurt.

People cannot work effectively if their workspace is
too enclosed or too exposed. A good workspace strikes
the balance. . . . You feel more comfortable in a
workspace if there is a wall behind you. . . . There
should be no blank wall closer than eight feet in front
of you. (As you work, you want to occasionally look up
and rest your eyes by focusing them on something
farther away than the desk. If there is a blank wall
closer than eight feet your eyes will not change focus
and they get no relief. In this case you feel too
enclosed.) . . . You should not be able to hear noises


86 PEOPLEWARE

very different from the kind you make, from your
workplace. Your workplace should be sufficiently
enclosed to cut out noises which are a different kind
from the ones you .make. There is some evidence that
one can concentrate on a task better if people around
him are doing the same thing, not something else. ...
Workspaces should allow you to face in different
directions.

—A Pattern Language

To complement the 253 basic patterns, teams need to prepare a
set of new patterns tailored to the specific nature of their project.
For the purposes of the next four subsections, we have nominated
ourselves to be one such team. Our charter is to design sensible
workspace for people who make their living by thinking. The four
patterns we propose take aim at four of the worst failings of present-
day institutional space. In forming these patterns, we borrow heavily
from those of our clients that have succeeded in creating
successful workplaces.

The First Pattern: Tailored Workspace from a Kit

Today's modular cubicle is a masterpiece of compromise: It gives
you no meaningful privacy and yet still manages to make you feel
isolated. You are poorly protected from noise and disruption;
indeed in some cases, sources ofnoise and disruption are actively
piped into your space. You're isolated because that small lonely
space excludes everyone but you (it's kind of a toilet stall without a
toilet). The space makes it difficult to work alone and almost impossible
to participate in the social unit that might form around your
work.

Individual modules give poor-quality space to the person
working alone and no space at all to the team. The alternative to this
is to fashion space explicitly around the working groups. Each team
needs identifiable public and semiprivate space. Each individual
needs protected private space.

Groups of people who have been assigned or have elected to
work together need to have a meaningful role in the design of their
own space. Ideally, they are aided in this by a central space-planning
organization, whose job is to find a chunk of space for the
group: "I see there are three of you, so you'll be needing three-
hundred square feet or more. Yes, here's a nice possibility. Now


TAKING UMBRELLA STEPS 87

let's think about layout and furniture....." The team members and
their space counselor next begin to work out the possible ways their

space could be arranged: '
Figure 13.3. Possible space arrangements.

Because of the requirement that workers be allowed to participate
in the design of their own space, whatever system of desks and
fixtures the company uses has to perform in a truly modular fashion.
Instead of fitting only into a simple grid, the furnishings must be
useful in myriad different configurations.

The Second Pattern; Windows

Modern office politics makes a great class distinction in the matter of
allocating windows. Most participants emerge as losers in the window
sweepstakes. People who wouldn't think of living in a home
without windows end up spending most of their daylight time in
windowless workspace. Alexander has very little patience with
windowless space: "Rooms without a view are like prisons for the
people who have to stay in them."

We are trained to accept windowless office space as inevitable.
The company would love for every one of us to have a window, we


88 PEOPLEWARE

hear, but that just isn't realistic. Sure it is. There is a perfect proof
that sufficient windows can be built into a space without excessive
cost. The existence proof is the hotel, any hotel. You can't even
imagine being shown a hotel room with no window. You wouldn't
stand for it. (And this is for a space you're only going to sleep in.)
So hotels are constructed with lots of windows.

The problem of windowless space is a direct result of a square
aspect ratio. If buildings are constructed in a fairly narrow shape,
there need be no shortage of windows. A sensible limit for building
width is thirty feet, such as the building shown in Figure 13.4.


Figure 13.4. Women's dormitory at Swarthmore College.

Limit buildings to thirty feet in width? Can this be a serious
proposal? What about costs? What about the economies of scale
that come with building enormous indoor spaces? Some years ago,
the Danish legislature passed a law that every worker must have his
or her own window. This law has forced builders to construct long,
narrow buildings, planned along the lines of hotels and apartment
buildings. In studies conducted after the law had been in effect for a
while, there was no very noticeable change in cost of space per
square meter. That doesn't mean the narrow configuration had no
cost significance, only that the increase, if any, was too small to
show up in the data. Even if there is a higher cost per worker to
house people in the more agreeable space, the added expense is
likely to make good sense because of the savings it provides in other
areas. The real problem is that the cost is in a highly visible
category (space and services), while the offsetting advantage is in
poorly measured and therefore invisible categories (increased
productivity and reduced turnover).


TAKING UMBRELLA STEPS 89

The Third Pattern: Indoor and Outdoor Space

The narrow configuration also makes it possible to achieve greater
integration between indoor and outdoor space. If you've ever had
the opportunity to work in space that had an outdoor component, it's
hard to imagine ever again limiting yourself to working entirely
indoors.

Upon formation of the Atlantic Systems Guild in 1983, we set
out to find Manhattan space to serve as a guild hall and office for
New York-based members. The space we found and still occupy is
the top floor of a Greenwich Village ship chandlery. It consists of
two-thousand square feet indoors and a thousand-square-foot outdoor
terrace. The terrace has become our spring, summer, and fall
conference room and eating area. For at least half the year, the outdoor
space is in use virtually full-time. Whatever work can be done
outdoors is done outdoors.

Before you dismiss our solution as an impossible luxury,
think about this fact: We pay less than a third as much per square
foot as the Manhattan average. Our space costs a lot less because
it's not part of a monolith. You can't accommodate thousands of
people centrally in such space. You'd have to hunt out hundreds of
special situations in order to get a large staff into anything like the
situation we've come up with. And when you did that, they would
not all have identical facilities. On a given sunny day, some of your
people would be working on terraces while others were in gardens
or arbors or courtyards. How impractical.

The Fourth Pattern: Public Space

An age-old pattern of interior space is one that has a smooth
"intimacy gradient" as you move toward the interior. At the extremity
is space where outsiders (messengers and tradesmen and salesmen)
may penetrate. Then you move into space that is reserved for
insiders (the work group or the family), and finally to space that is
only for the individual. This pattern applies to your home as you
move from foyer to living room to kitchen to bedroom to bathroom.
And it should be true as well of a healthy workplace.

At the entrance to the workplace should be some area that
belongs to the whole group. It constitutes a kind of hearth for the
group. Further along the intimacy gradient should be space for the
tightly knit work groups to interact and to socialize. Finally, there is
the protected quiet thinking space for one person to work alone.


90 PEOPLEWARE

Group interaction space needs tables and seating for the whole
group, writing surfaces, and areas to post whatever group members
want to post. Ideally, there should also be a space for members to
prepare simple meals and eat together:

Without communal eating, no human group can hold
together. Give each [working group] a place where
people can eat together. Make the common meal a regular


 
In particular, start a common lunch in
every workplace so that a genuine meal around a common
table (not out of boxes, machines or bags) becomes
an important, comfortable and daily event. . . . In our
own work group at the Center, we found this worked
most beautifully when we took it in turns to cook the
lunch. The lunch became an event: a gathering: something
that each of us put our love and energy into.

—A Pattern Language

..
The Pattern of the Patterns

The patterns that crop up again and again in successful space are
there because they are in fundamental accord with characteristics of
the human creature. They allow him to function as a human. They
emphasize his essence—he is at once an individual and a member of
a group. They deny neither his individuality nor his inclination to
bond into teams. They let him be what he is.

A common element that runs through all the patterns (both
ours and Alexander's) is reliance upon non-replicable formulas. No
two people have to have exactly the same workspace. No two coffee
areas have to be identical, nor any two libraries or sitting areas.
The texture and shape and organization of space are fascinating
issues to the people who occupy that space. The space needs to be
isomorphic to the work that goes on there. And people at all levels
need to leave their mark on the workplace.

Return to Reality

Now, what does all this have to do with you? If you work for a
large institution, you're not likely to convince the powers that be to
admit the error of their ways and allow everyone to build a Timeless


TAKING UMBRELLA STEPS 91

Way sort of workplace. And perhaps you don't want to work for a
small company in which charming and idiosyncratic workplaces
occur rather naturally.

There is nonetheless a possible way to put your people into
vital, productive space. The possibility arises because master-
planned space is almost always full, and it's a continual hassle to
find a place to house any new effort. If you run one of those as-yet
unhoused efforts, turn your sights outward. Petition to move your
group out of the corporate monolith. You may be turned down, but
then again, since there's no space for you in-house, you may not.
Put your people to work to find and arrange their own space. Never
mind that it may not have the same white plastic wastebaskets or
corduroy-covered partitions as the headquarters' space. If you can
pick up a lease on a run-down fraternity house or garden apartment
that would make cheap, idiosyncratic, fascinating quarters for your
people, well then, so what that they will be housed differently from
everyone else in the company? If it's okay with them, who cares?

You don't have to solve the space problem for the whole
institution. If you can solve it just for your own people, you're way
ahead. And if your group is more productive and has lower
turnover, that just proves you're a better manager.

It almost always makes sense to move a project or work group
out of corporate space. Work conducted in ad hoc space has got
more energy and a higher success rate. People suffer less from
noise and interruption and frustration. The quirky nature of their
space helps them form a group identity. If you are part of the lofty
reaches of upper management, then decide which projects matter
most. Move the key ones out. It's a sad comment that an important
piece of work is likely to fare better off-site. It's sad but true. Make
it work for you.


PART III


THE RIGHT PEOPLE


The final outcome of any effort is more a function of who
does the work than of how the work is done. Yet modem management
science pays almost no attention to hiring and keeping the right
people. Any management course you*re likely to take barely gives
lip service to these aspects.

Management science is much more concerned with the boss's
role as principal strategist and tactician of the work. You are taught
to think of management as playing out one of those battle simulation
board games. There are no personalities or individual talents to be
reckoned with in such a game; you succeed or fail based on your
decisions of when and where to deploy your faceless resources.

In the next four chapters, we will attempt to undo the damage
of the manager-as-strategist view, and replace it with an approach
that encourages you to court success with this formula:

. get the right people
. make them happy so they don't want to leave
. turn them loose
Of course, you have to coordinate the efforts of even the best
team so that all the individual contributions add up to an integrated
whole. But that's the relatively mechanical part of management.
For most efforts, success or failure is in the cards from the moment
the team is formed and the initial directions set out. With talented
people, the manager can almost coast from that point on.

93


Chapter 14
THE HORNBLOWER FACTOR


C.S. Forester's series of novels on the Napoleonic Wars
follows the exploits of Horatio Hornblower, an officer in England's
Royal Navy. On one level, these are pure adventure stories set in a
well-researched historical framework. On another level, the Horn-
blower books can be read as an elaborate management analogy. The
job of running a square-rigged frigate or ship of the line is not so
different from that of managing a company division or project The
tasks of staffing, training, work allocation, scheduling, and tactical
support will be familiar to anyone involved in management today,
Hornblower is the ultimate manager. His career advanced
from midshipman to admiral through the same blend of cleverness,
daring, political maneuvering, and good luck that has promoted any
of the corporate high-fliers featured in the pages of Business Week.
There is a real-world management lesson to be learned from his
every decision.

Born Versus Made

A recurrent theme through all the novels is Hornblower*s gloomy
presentiment that achievers are born, not made. Many of the subordinates
that fall to him through luck of the draw are undependable or
stupid. He knows that they all will let him down at some key moment.
(They always do.) He also knows that the few good men
who come his way are his only real resource. Sizing them up

95



96 PEOPLEWARE

quickly and knowing when to depend on them are Hornblower's
great talents.

In our egalitarian times, it's almost unthinkable to write someone
off as intrinsically incompetent. There is supposed to be inherent
worth in every human being. Managers are supposed to use
their leadership skills to bring out untapped qualities in each subordinate.
This shaping of raw human material is considered the
essence of management.

That view may be more comforting than Hornblower's glum
assessment, and it certainly is more flattering to managers, but it
doesn't seem very realistic to us. Parents do have a shaping effect
on their children over the years, and individuals can obviously bring
about huge changes in themselves. But managers are unlikely to
change their people in any meaningful way. People usually don't
stay put long enough, and the manager just doesn't have enough
leverage to make a difference in their nature. So the people who
work for you through whatever period will be more or less the same
at the end as they were at the beginning. If they're not right for the
job from the start, they never will be.

All of this means that getting the right people in the first place
is all-important. Fortunately, you don't have to depend entirely on
the luck of the draw. You may get to play a significant part in the
hiring of new people or the selection of new team members from
within the company. If so, your skill at these tasks will determine to
a large extent your eventual success.

The Uniform Plastic Person

Even novice managers, setting out to hire staff for the first time,
know something about the principles of good hiring. They know,
for instance, that you can't hire based on appearance. The best-
looking candidate is not one whit more likely to deliver a good
product than a candidate who is homely.

Everybody knows that, but oddly enough most hiring mistakes
result from too much attention to appearances and not enough
to capabilities. This is not just due to ignorance or shallowness on
the part of the person doing the hiring. Evolution has planted in
each of us a certain uneasiness toward people who differ by very
much from the norm. It is clear how this tendency serves evolution's
purposes. You can observe this evolutionary defense in
yourself in your reactions to a horror film, for instance. The almost


THE HORNBLOWER FACTOR 97

human "creature" is much more upsetting than the mile-wide eyeless
blob that slowly digests Detroit.

As each individual matures, he or she learns to override the
built-in bias toward the norm in selecting friends and developing
close relationships. Though you may have learned that lesson long
ago in your personal life, you have to learn it all over again as you
develop your hiring skills.

You probably don't feel that you have an uncontrollable tendency
to hire attractive or "normal" looking people. So why are we
talking about this at all? Because it's not just your individual tendency
toward the norm that affects your hiring, it's also your organization's
subliminal imposition of a norm of its own. Each person
you hire becomes part of your little empire and also part of your
boss's empire and that of the next boss up the line. The standard
you apply is not just your own. You're hiring on behalf of the
whole corporate ladder above you. The perceived norm of these
upper managers is working on you each time you consider making a
new offer. That almost unsensed pressure is pushing toward the
company average, encouraging you to hire people that look like,
sound like, and think like everybody else. In a healthy corporate
culture, this effect can be small enough to ignore. But when the
culture is unhealthy, it's difficult or impossible to hire the one person
who matters most, the one who doesn't think like all the rest.

The need for uniformity is a sign of insecurity on the part of
management. Strong managers don't care when team members cut
then* hair or whether they wear ties. Their pride is tied only to their
staff's accomplishments.

Standard Dress

Uniformity is so important to insecure authoritarian regimes
(parochial schools and armies, for example) that they even impose
dress codes. Different lengths of skirt or colors ofjacket are threatening,
and so they are forbidden. Nothing is allowed to mar the
long rows of nearly identical troops. Accomplishment matters only
to the extent it can be achieved by people who don't look different.

Companies, too, sometimes impose standards of dress. These
are not so extreme as to oblige strictly uniform attire, but they
remove considerable discretion from the individual. When this first
happens, the effect is devastating. People can talk and think of
nothing else. All useful work stops dead. The most valuable people
begin to realize that they aren't appreciated for their real worth, that


98 PEOPLEWARE

their contributions to the work are not as important as their haircuts
and neckties. Eventually they leave. And the rest of the company
plods on, trying to prove that having the right people wasn't so
important after all.

Throughout these pages, we've suggested remedies for some
of the things that can go wrong in organizations. But if what's gone
wrong in yours is promulgation of a formal standard of appearance,
forget it. It's too late for a remedy. The organization is suffering
from the last stages of brain death. The corpse won't topple over
immediately, since there are so many hands trying to prop it up. But
propping up corpses is unsatisfying work. Get yourself a new job.

Code Word: Professional

When I alluded to management insecurity as the cause
of arbitrary standardization, participants at one inhouse
seminar could barely restrain themselves. They
all had stories to tell. One of the silliest had to do with
the company's reaction to use of the coffee area
microwave to pop some popcorn during afternoon
break. Of course, popping corn leaves an unmistakable
smell. Someone from the ran fled altitudes of upper
management smelted the smell and reacted. He declared
in a memo, "Popcorn is not professional," and so would
henceforth be forbidden.

—TRL

An anti-popcorn standard or even a dress standard might be
understandable if you worked in the Customer Relations Department
or in Sales. But in any other area, it makes no sense at all. There is
seldom if ever a client wandering through such space. These
"standards" have nothing to do with the organization's image as
perceived by outsiders. It's the image perceived by insiders that
matters. The insiders in question—typically second- and third-level
managers with shaky self-confidence—are uncomfortable with any
kind of behavior that is different from average. They need to impose
safely homogenized mores on those beneath them to demonstrate
that they are in charge.

The term unprofessional is often used to characterize surprising
and threatening behavior. Anything that upsets the weak manager
is almost by definition unprofessional. So popcorn is unpro



THE HORNBLOWER FACTOR 99

fessional. Long hair is unprofessional if it grows out of a male
head, but perfectly okay if it grows out of a female head. Posters of
any kind are unprofessional. Comfortable shoes are unprofessional.
Dancing around your desk when something good happens is unprofessional.
Giggling and laughing is unprofessional. (It's all right to
smile, but not too often.)

Conversely, professional means unsurprising. You will be
considered professional to the extent you look, act, and think like
everyone else, a perfect drone.

Of course, this perverted sense of professionalism is pathological.
In a healthier organizational culture, people are thought
professional to the extent they are knowledgeable and competent.

Corporate Entropy

Entropy is levemess or sameness. The more it increases, the less
potential there is to generate energy or do work. In the corporation
or other organization, entropy can be thought of as uniformity of
attitude, appearance, and thought process. Just as thermodynamic
entropy is always increasing in the universe, so too corporate
entropy is on the rise:

SECOND THERMODYNAMIC LAW OF MANAGEMENT:
Entropy is always increasing in the organization.


That's why most elderly institutions are tighter and a lot less fun
than sprightly young companies.

There is not much you can do about this as a global phenomenon,
but you've got to fight it within your own domain. The
most successful manager is the one who shakes up the local entropy
to bring in the right people and let them be themselves, even though
they may deviate from the corporate norm. Your organization may
have rigor mortis, but your little piece of it can hop and skip.


Chapter 15
HIRING A JUGGLER


Circus Manager: How long have you been juggling?
Candidate: Oh, about six years.
Manager: Can you handle three balls, four balls, and five balls?
Candidate: Yes, yes, and yes.
Manager: Do you work with flaming objects?
Candidate: Sure.
Manager: .. . knives, axes, open cigar boxes, floppy hats?
Candidate: I can juggle anything.
Manager: Do you have a line of funny patter that goes with
your juggling?
Candidate: It's hilarious.
Manager: Well, that sounds fine. I guess you're hired.
Candidate: Umm ... Don't you want to see me juggle?
Manager: Gee, I never thought of that.

It would be ludicrous to think of hiring a juggler without first
seeing him perform. That's just common sense. Yet when you set
out to hire an engineer or a designer or a programmer or a group
manager, the rules of common sense are often suspended. You
don't ask to see a design or a program or anything. In fact, the
interview isjust talk.

100


HIRING A JUGGLER 101

You're hiring a person to produce a product, presumably similar
to those he or she has made before. You need to examine a
sample of those products to see the quality of work the candidate
does. That may seem obvious, but it's almost always overlooked
by development managers. There is a surface reserve at work when
you meet for a job interview. There seems to be an unwritten rale
that says it's okay to ask the candidate about past work but not to
ask to see it. Yet when you ask, candidates are almost always
pleased to bring along a sample.

The Portfolio

In the spring of 1979, while teaching together in western Canada,
we got a call from a computer science professor at the local technical
college. He proposed to stop by our hotel after class one evening
and buy us beers in exchange for ideas. That's the kind of offer we
seldom turn down. What we learned from him that evening was
almost certainly worth more than whatever he learned from us.

The teacher was candid about what he needed to be judged a
success in his work: He needed his students to get good job offers
and lots of them. "A Harvard diploma is worth something in and of
itself, but our diploma isn't worth squat. If this year's graduates
don't get hired fast, there are no students next year and I'm out of a
job." So he had developed a formula to make his graduates optimally
attractive to the job market. Of course he taught them modern
techniques for system construction, including structured analysis
and design, data-driven design, information hiding, structured coding,
walkthroughs, and metrics. He also had them work on real
applications for nearby companies and agencies. But the centerpiece
of his formula was the portfolio that all students put together to
show samples of their work.

He described how his students had been coached to show off
their portfolios as part of each interview:

"I've brought along some samples of the kind of work I
do. Here, for instance, is a subroutine in Pascal from
one project and a set of COBOL paragraphs from another.
As you can see in this portion, we use the loop-with-exit
extension advocated by Knuth, but aside from that, it's
pure structured code, pretty much the sort of thing that
your company standard calls for. And here is the design
that this code was written from. The hierarchies and


102 PEOPLEWARE

coupling analysis use Myers' notation. I designed all of
this particular subsystem, and this one little section
where we used some Orr methods because the data
structure really imposed itself on the process structure.
And these are the leveled data flow diagrams that make
up the guts of our specification, and the associated data
dictionary. ..."

In the years since, we've often heard more about that obscure
technical college and those portfolios. We've met recruiters from as
far away as Triangle Park, North Carolina, and Tampa, Florida,
who regularly converge upon that distant Canadian campus for a
shot at its graduates.

Of course, this was a clever scheme of the professor's to give
added allure to his graduates, but what struck us most that evening
was the report that interviewers were always surprised by the portfolios.
That meant they weren't regularly requiring all candidates to
arrive with portfolios. Yet why not? What could be more sensible
than asking each candidate to bring along some samples of work to
the interview?

Aptitude Tests

If it's so important that the new hire be good at the various skillsused in the job, why not design an aptitude test to measure those
skills? Our industry has had a long, irregular flirtation with the idea
of aptitude testing. In the sixties, the idea was positively in vogue.
By now, you and your organization have probably given up on the
concept. In case you haven't, we offer one good reason that you
ought to: The tests measure the wrong thing.

Aptitude tests are almost always oriented toward the tasks the
person will perform immediately after being hired. They test
whether he or she is likely to be good at statistical analysis or programming
or whatever it is that's required in the position. You can
buy aptitude tests in virtually any technical area, and they all tend to
have fairly respectable track records at predicting how well the new
hire will perform. But so what? A successful new hire might do
those tasks for a few years and then move on to be team leader or a
product manager or a project head. That person might end up doing
the tasks that the test measured for two years and then do other
things for twenty.


HIRING A JUGGLER 103

The aptitude tests we've seen are mostly left-brain oriented.
That's because the typical things new hires do are performed largely
in the left brain. The things they do later on in their career, however,
are to a much greater degree right-brain activities. Management,
in particular, requires holistic thinking, heuristic judgment,
and intuition based upon experience. So the aptitude test may give
you people who perform better in the short term, but are less likely
to succeed later on. Maybe you should use an aptitude test but hire
only those who fail it.

From your reading of this book, you'd hardly expect its
authors to endorse the idea of hiring through the use of aptitude
tests. But it doesn't follow that aptitude tests are no good or that
you ought not to be using them. You should use them, just not for
hiring. The typical aptitude test you buy or build can be a wonderful
self-assessment vehicle for your people. Frequent interesting
opportunities for private self-assessment are a must for workers in a
healthy organization. (More about this in Chapter 24.)

Holding an Audition

The business we're in is more sociological than technological, more
dependent on workers' abilities to communicate with each other than
their abilities to communicate with machines. So the hiring process
needs to focus on at least some sociological and human communication
traits. The best way we've discovered to do this is through
the use of auditions for job candidates.

The idea is simple enough. You ask a candidate to prepare a
ten- or fifteen-minute presentation on some aspect of past work. It
could be about a new technology and the experience with first trying
it out, or about a management lesson learned the hard way, or about
a particularly interesting project. The candidate chooses die subject.
The date is set and you assemble a small audience made up of those
who will be the new hire's co-workers.

Of course the candidate will be nervous, perhaps even reluctant
to undertake such an experience. You'll have to explain that all
candidates are nervous about the audition and give your reasons for
holding one: to see the various candidates' communication skills,
and to give the future co-workers a part in the hiring process.

At the end of the audition and after the candidate has left, you
hold a debriefing of those present. Each one gets to comment on the
person's suitability for the job and whether he or she seems likely to
fit well into the team. Although it's ultimately your responsibility to


104 PEOPLEWARE

decide whether to hire or not, the feedback from future co-workers
can be invaluable. Even more important, any new person hired is
more likely to be accepted smoothly into the group, since the other
group members have had a voice in choosing the candidate.

My first experience with auditions was in hiring people
to be consultants and instructors. My motivation
in torturing these prospective hires was simple
enough; I wanted to get a sense of whether they were
natural explainers of matters simple or complex, or
people who could be taught to explain such matters, or
those who could never explain anything to anyone. I
also wanted some second opinions on the matter, so I
had those of my people who were in the office at the
time of the audition sit in on the presentation. Over
five years, we conducted nearly two hundred auditions.

It soon became clear that the audition process served to
accelerate the socialization process between a new hire
and the existing staff members. A successful audition
was a kind of certification as a peer. The reverse
seemed to hold true as well. Failed auditions were a
morale booster for the staff. They were continuing
proof that being hired for the group was more than just
the dumb luck of when resumes happened to hit my
desk.

—TRL

One caveat about auditions: Make sure the candidate speaks
about something immediately germane to the work your organization
does. It's easy to be snookered by a talk on a topic from extreme
left field, like "Caring for the Autistic Child" or "Effects of Acid
Rain." You're liable to catch a glimpse of a very compelling passion
on the speaker's part, a passion that you'll never see again on
the job.


Chapter 16

HAPPY TO BE HERE


This chapter begins with a pop quiz:

Ql. What annual employee turnover has your organization
experienced over the last few years?

Q2. How much does it cost on average to replace a person
who leaves?

Score yourself as follows: If you had any answer at all to the two
questions, you pass. Otherwise you fail. Most people fail.

In all fairness, perhaps it's not your job to know about such
things. Okay, we'll re-score your quiz. You pass if anyone in your
organization has a real answer to the two questions. Most people
still fail. We avoid measuring turnover for the same reason that
heavy smokers avoid having long serious talks with their doctors
about longevity: It's a lot of bother that can only result in bad news.

Turnover: The Obvious Costs

Typical turnover figures we encounter are in the range of eighty
percent to thirty-three percent per year, implying an average
employee longevity of from fifteen to thirty-six months. Assume
for the moment that the turnover for your company is in the middle
of this range. The average person leaves after a little more than two
years. It costs one-and-a-half to two months' salary to hire a new
employee, either as a fee to an agency, or as the cost of an in-house


106 PEOPLEWARE

personnel service that does the same function. The employee, once
hired, may go right to work on a project, in which case his or her
hours are all billed to the project—there is no indication of startup
cost. This is, however, a pure bookkeeping fiction. We all know
that a new employee is quite useless on day one or even worse than
useless, since someone else's time is required to begin bringing the
new person up to speed.

By the end of a few months, the new person is doing some
useful work; within five months, he or she is at full working
capacity. A reasonable assessment of startup cost is therefore
approximately three lost work-months per new hire. (Obviously,
the startup cost is worse or much worse to the extent that the work
to be performed is highly esoteric.) The total cost of replacing each
person is the equivalent of four-and-a-half to five months of
employee cost or about twenty percent of the cost of keeping that
employee for the full two years on the job.

Turnover varies enormously from one organization to another.
We hear of companies with a ten percent turnover, and others in the
same business with a hundred percent or higher turnover. At any
chance gathering of managers from rival companies, you can expect
that the person seated next to you has got a turnover rate that is different
from yours by more than a factor of two. Of course, neither
of you knows which way this difference works, and you never will
because at least one of the two of you probably works for a company
that doesn't measure turnover.

The Hidden Costs of Turnover

Employee turnover costs about twenty percent of all manpower
expense. But that's only the visible cost of turnover. There is an
ugly invisible cost that can be far worse.

In companies with high turnover, people tend toward a
destructively short-term viewpoint, because they know they just
aren't going to be there very long. So if you find yourself campaigning
for better workspace for your staff, for example, don't be
surprised to bump into someone up the hierarchy who counters with
an argument like this:

"Hold on there, Buster. You're talking about big bucks.
If we gave our engineers that much space and noise protection
and even privacy, we might end up spending fifty
dollars per person per month! Multiply that times all the


HAPPY TO BE HERE 107

engineers and you're into the tens of thousands of dollars.
We can't spend that kind of money. I'm as much
in favor of productivity as the next guy, but have you
seen what a terrible third quarter we're having?"

Of course, the irrevocably logical answer to this is that investing
now in a sensible environment will help to avoid terrible third quarters
in the future. But save your breath. You have encountered a
short-term perspective that no amount of irrevocable logic is going
to sway. This person is on his or her way out of the company. The
short-term cost is very real, but the long-term benefit has no meaning
whatsoever.

In an organization with high turnover, nobody is willing to
take the long view. If the organization is a bank, it will lend money
to the Ugandan Development Corporation because the twenty-two
percent interest looks terrific on this quarter's books. Of course, the
UDC will default in a couple of years, but who's even going to be
here then? If the organization is a development shop, it will optimize
for the short term, exploit people, cheat on the workplace, and
do nothing to conserve its very lifeblood, the peopleware that is its
only real asset. If we ran our agricultural economy on the same
basis, we'd eat our seed corn immediately and all starve next year.

If people only stick around a year or two, the only way to
conserve the best people is to promote them quickly. That means
near beginners being promoted into first-level management positions.
They may have only five years of experience and perhaps
less than two years with the company.

There is something very disconcerting about these numbers.
A person with a work life of, say, forty years will spend five years
working and thirty-five managing. That implies an exceedingly tall,
narrow hierarchy. Fifteen percent of the staff is doing work, with
eighty-five percent managing. As little as ten percent of the cost
could be spent on the workers, with ninety percent going to reward
the managers. Even Marx didn't foresee such top-heaviness of capitalistic
structures.

Not only is the structure wastefully top-heavy, it tends to have
very lightweight people at the bottom. This is somewhat true
throughout the industry, but strikingly true in high-turnover companies.
It's not unusual to see serious, mature companies turning
out products that are developed by workers with an average age in
their twenties, and average experience of less than two years.




Many of us have come to believe that companies that promote
early are where the action is. That's natural, because as young
workers we're eager to get ahead. But from the corporate perspective,
late promotion is a sign of health. In companies with low
turnover, promotion into the first-level management position comes
only after as much as ten years with the company. (This has long
been true of some of the strongest organizations within IBM, for
example.) The people at the lowest level have on the average at least
five years'experience. The hierarchy is low and flat.

Why People Leave

For the individuals considering a change in job, the reasons can be
as many and varied as the personalities involved. For the organization
with pathologically high turnover (anything over fifty percent),
a few reasons account for most departures:

. a just-passing-through mentality: Co-workersengender no
feelings of long-term involvement in the job.

. a feeling of disposability: Management can only think of
its workers as interchangeable parts (since turnover is so
high, nobody is indispensable).

* a sense that loyalty would be ludicrous: Who could be
loyal to an organization that views its people as parts?
The insidious effect here is that turnover engenders turnover.
People leave quickly, so there's no use spending money on training.
Since the company has invested nothing in the individual, the individual
thinks nothing of moving on. New people are not hired for
their extraordinary qualities, since replacing extraordinary qualities
is too difficult. The feeling that the company sees nothing extraordinary
in the worker makes the worker feel unappreciated as an individual.
Other people are leaving all the time, so there's something
wrong with you if you're still here next year.

A Special Pathology: The Company Move

There is no bigger ego trip for insecure managers than moving the
company to some distant place. That is Wheeling and Dealing at its
best! Injecting so much misery into workers' lives makes the man



HAPPY TO BE HERE 109

agers feel positively god-like. The normal business of running the
company lets them control their people's work lives, but the move
lets them have a measure of control over even their personal lives.

Of course, they are marvelously somber when explaining the
rationale behind the move. They talk about the escalating price of
space or the tax structure of the old location and the benefits of the
new one. Whatever the reasons given for the move, you can be sure
the real reasons are very different. The real reason for the move is a
political deal, or a chance to build a new edifice (finally, a piece of
physical evidence of their importance), or reduction of the boss'scommute by moving the company to the suburb where the boss
happens to live. Sometimes it's simply the naked exercise of
power.

The more egocentric the manager, the more intense the fondness
for the company move. Listen to Robert Townsend in Up the
Organization on the subject:

If you've inherited (or built) an office that needs a real
house cleaning, the only sure cure is move the whole
thing out of town, leaving the dead wood behind. One of
my friends has done it four times with different companies.
The results are always the same: 1) The good
ones are confident of their futures and go with you. 2)
The people with dubious futures (and their wives)
don't have to face the fact that they've been fired. "The
company left town," they say. They get job offers
quickly, usually from your competitors who think
they're conducting a raid. 3) The new people at Destiny
City are better than the ones you left behind and
they're infused with enthusiasm because they've been
exposed only to your best people.

— Up the Organization
What this is, to use a technical term, is the purest crap. One
thing Townsend seems to have missed entirely is the presence of
women in the workforce. The typical person being moved today is
part of a two-career family. The other half of that equation is
probably not being moved, so the corporate move comes down hard
on the couple's relationship at a very delicate point. It brings intolerable
stress to bear on the accommodation they're both striving to


110 PEOPLEWARE

achieve to allow two full-fledged careers. That's hitting below
the belt. Modern couples won't put up with it and they won't forgive
it. The company move might have been possible in the
1950s and 1960s. Today it is folly.

Even in the sixties, organizational moves didn't make much
sense. A case in point is the decision by AT&T's Bell Laboratories
to move the six-hundred-person ESS1 project from New
Jersey to Illinois in 1966. There were many reasons given for the
move, but it now seems likely that there were some political
shenanigans involved. In the 1950s, then Senators Kennedy and
Johnson had arranged for huge new investments in Massachusetts
and Texas, and Senator Dirksen of Illinois had something coming.
What a coup for Dirksen if six-hundred high-salary, low-pollution
jobs could be moved into his state. A little pressure on AT&T,
perhaps, to trade off the move against concessions in some
antitrust matter or regulatory relief. The rationale within the Labs
was that the cost wouldn't be too excessive: a few thousand dollars
per person in relocation expenses and maybe a bit of
turnover. . . .

Years after the ESS cutover, I arranged to interview
Ray Ketchledge who had run the project. I was writing
some essays on management of large efforts, and ESS
certainly qualified. I asked him what he saw as his
main successes and failures as boss. "Forget the successes,"
he said. "The failure was that move. You
can't believe what it cost us in turnover." He went on
to give some figures. The immediately calculable cost
of the move was the number of people who quit before
relocation day. Expressed as a percentage of those
moved, this initial turnover was greater than the French
losses in the trenches of World War I.

—TDM

You can do less damage to your organization by lining up
the staff in front of a machine gun than you do by moving. And
that accounts only for the initial loss. In the case of Bell Labs,
there was another large exodus starting about a year after the
move. These were the people who had honestly tried to go along
with the company. They moved and when they didn't like the
new location, they moved again.


HAPPY TO BE HERE 111

The Mentality of Permanence

Over the years, we have been privileged to work and consult for a
few companies with extraordinarily low turnover. You won't be
surprised to learn that low turnover is not the only good thing about
these companies. Indeed, they seem to excel at many or most of thepeople-conscious qualities discussed in these pages. They are the
best.

The best organizations are not of a kind; they are more notable
for their dissimilarities than for their likenesses. But one thing that
they all share is a preoccupation with being the best. It is a constant
topic in the corridors, in working meetings, and in bull sessions.
The converse of this effect is equally true: In organizations that are
not "the best," the topic is rarely or never discussed.

The best organizations are consciously striving to be best.
This is a common goal that provides common direction, joint satisfaction,
and a strong binding effect. There is a mentality of permanence
about such places, the sense that you'd be dumb to look for a
job elsewhere—people would look at you as though you were daft.
This is the kind of community feeling that characterized jhe
American small towns of the past. It is something too often missing
from the cities and municipalities where we live, so it is all the
more important in the workplace. Some ambitious companies set
out explicitly to engender a sense of community. At Reader's Digest
and certain Hewlett-Packard locations, for example, the company
has set up community gardens for employees. At lunch hour, the
fields are full of amateur hoers and weeders and people talking
tomatoes over their fences. There are contests to grow the sweetest
pea or the longest zucchini, and active bartering sessions where you
can trade away some of your garlic for corn.

You can prove that community gardens don't make any sense
at all in the short term. Whatever costs there are will come right out
of this quarter's bottom line. At most companies, that would be
enough to quash the concept immediately. But in the best organizations,
the short term is not the only thing that matters. What matters
more is being best. And that's a long-term concept.

People tend to stay at such companies because there is a
widespread sense that you are expected to stay. The companyinvests hugely in your personal growth. There may be a Master's
program or an extensive training period for new hires, as much as a


112 PEOPLEWARE

year in some places. It's hard to miss the message that you are
expected to stay, when the company has just invested that much in
your formation.

A common feature of companies with the lowest turnover is
widespread retraining. You're forever bumping into managers and
officers who started out as secretaries, payroll clerks, or mail-boys.
They came into the company green, often right out of school. When
they needed new skills to make a change, the company provided
those skills. No job is a dead end.

Again, one can prove that retraining is not the cheapest way to
fill a new slot. It's always cheaper in the short run to fire the person
who needs retraining and hire someone else who already has the
required skills. Most organizations do just that. The best organizations
do not. They realize that retraining helps to build the mentality
of permanence that results in low turnover and a strong sense
of community. They realize that it more than justifies its cost.

At Southern California Edison, the person in charge of all data
processing began as a meter reader. At EG&G, there is a program
of retraining secretaries to become systems analysts. At the Bureau
of Labor Statistics, philosophy Ph.D.s are hired to become software
developers and the retraining starts with their first day on the job.
At Hitachi Software, the chief scientist has as his principal function
the training of new hires. At Pacific Bell, a main source of new
systems people is the retrained lineman or operator. These companies
are different from the norm. They feel different. There is an
energy and sense of belonging that is practically palpable. It makes
you feel sorry for the companies that don't have it.


Chapter 17

THE SELF-HEALING SYSTEM


An employee storms into the Personnel Department and
resigns. The next morning, he and Ms boss turn up to explain rather
sheepishly that the whole thing was a silly mistake. Would it be
possible to undo his resignation? The workers handling the case
look at the partly completed transaction in some perplexity,
Whoever had designed the procedures for dealing with termination
had made no allowance for undoing. But it's easy enough to see
what will make it all come out right: Let's see, we can just drop this
whole file into the wastebasket and pretend it never existed, then we
void out the final payroll check and ran over to Harryfs desk and
grab the insurance cancellation forms before he sees them.,..

A system has just healed itself. Something had teen left out
of its original design, something that turned out to be necessary.
The people who make the system go have fixed it on the fly. It
happens all the time.

Deterministic and Non-Deterministic

When you automate a previously all-human system, it becomes
entirely deterministic. The new system is capable of making only
those responses planned explicitly by its builders. So the self-healing
quality is lost. Any response that will be required must be put
there in the first place. If ever the system needs to be healed, that
can only be done outside the context of its operation. Maintainers
come in to take the system apart and reconstruct it with one or more
new planned responses added.

.. .!



In one view, getting rid of the rather messy and uncontrollable
self-healing capacity is a positive benefit of automation. The system
is planned "right" in the first place, and then there is no need for tinkering
during operation. But it's no secret that this can be expensive.
Automators spend much of their time thinking through situations
that are so unlikely or occur so rarely that the human elements
of the old system never even bothered to consider them unless and
until they actually happened. If the business policy governing the
new system has a sufficient degree of natural ad hoc-racy, it's a
mistake to automate it. Determinism will be no asset then; the system
will be in constant need of maintenance.

The reason that non-deterministic systems can often heal
themselves painlessly and elegantly (sometimes at no cost at all) is
that the humans who make up the system have an easy familiarity
with the underlying goals. When a new situation crops up, they
know immediately what action makes sense. Someday it may be
possible to teach computers the goals of the system instead of the
actions expected to achieve the goals, but right now that's beyond
the horizon. The point here is that making a system deterministic
will result in the loss of its ability to heal itself.

The organization that you work in or manage is in some sense
a system. It is an amalgam of interacting people and processes that
exist to achieve some end. It's all the vogue these days to talk of
making such systems more deterministic. That brings us to the subject
of Methodology.

The Covert Meaning of Methodology

The maddening thing about most of our organizations is that they are
only as good as the people who staff them. Wouldn't it be nice if
we could get around that natural limit, and have good organizations
even though they were staffed by mediocre or incompetent people?
Nothing could be easier—all we need is (trumpet fanfare, please) a
Methodology.

A Methodology is a general systems theory of how a whole
class of thought-intensive work ought to be conducted. It comes in
the form of a fat book that specifies in detail exactly what steps to
take at any time, regardless of who's doing the work, regardless of
where or when. The people who write the Methodology are smart.
The people who carry it out can be dumb. They never have to turn


THE SELF-HEALING SYSTEM 115

their brains to the ON position. All they do is start on page one and
follow the Yellow Brick Road, like happy little Munchkins, all the
way from the start of the job to its successful completion, The
Methodology makes all the decisions, the people make none. The
organization becomes entirely deterministic.

Like any other system, a team of human workers will lose its
self-healing properties to the extent it becomes deterministic. The
result can be workers proceeding in directions that make no sense to
them at all, a sure sign that they can't be doing any good. Some
years ago, we conducted a post mortem of a failed project by asking
each of the project workers to speak for an hour or so into a tape
recorder. They did this in the privacy of their own homes and we
assured them that only we two, the consultants, would ever hear the
tapes. One of the speakers gave us this observation:

"By March we had been doing this [applying one of the
techniques dictated from on high] for nearly two months.
I couldn't see how it was helping us in any way, but
George kept assuring us that it was. He said we should
trust in the Methodology, and it would all work out in
the end."

f

Of course it didn't. The project workers are the ones most familiar
with the territory of the project. If a given direction doesn't make
sense to them, it doesri t make sense at all.

There is a big difference between Methodology and methodology.
Small m methodology is a basic approach one takes to getting
a job done. It doesn't reside in a fat book, but rather inside the
heads of the people carrying out the work. Such a methodology
consists of two parts: a tailored plan (specific to the work at hand)
and a body of skills necessary to effect the plan. One could hardly
be opposed to methodology: The work couldn't even begin without
it. But a Methodology is very different

Big M Methodology is an attempt to centralize thinking. All
meaningful decisions are made by the Methodology builders, not by
the staff assigned to do the work. Those who espouse a Methodology
have a long list of its supposed benefits, including standardization,
documentary uniformity, managerial control, and state-of-theart
techniques. These make up the overt case for the Methodology.
The covert case is simpler and cruder: the idea that project people
aren't smart enough to do the thinking.


116 PEOPLEWARE

MethodologyMadness

Of course, if your people aren't smart enough to think their way
through their work, the work will fail. No Methodology will help.
Worse still, Methodologies can do grievous damage to efforts in
which the people are fully competent. They do this by trying to
force the work into a fixed mold that guarantees

. a morass of paperwork,
. a paucity of methods,
. an absence of responsibility, and
. a general loss of motivation.
The following paragraphs comment on each of these effects.

Paperwork: The Methodologies themselves are huge and getting
huger (they have to grow to add the "features" required by each
new kind of situation). It's not at all unusual for a Methodology to
use up a linear foot or more of shelf space. Worse, they encourage
people to build documents rather than do work. The documentary
obsession of such Methodologies seems to have resulted from paranoid
defensive thinking along these lines: "The last project generated
a ton of paper and it was still a disaster, so this project will have
to generate two tons." The technological sectors of our economy
have now been through a decade-long flirtation with the idea that
more and more and more paperwork will solve its problems. Perhaps
it's time to introduce this contrary and heretical notion:

Voluminous documentation Is part of the problem,
not part of the solution.

Methods: The centerpiece of most Methodologies is the concept
of standardized methods. If there were a thousand different but
equally good ways to go about the work, it might make some sense
to choose one and standardize upon it. But in our state of technological
infancy, there are very few competing methods for most of
the work we do. When there are genuine alternatives, people have
to know about and master them all. To standardize on one is to
exclude the others. It boils down to the view that knowledge is so
valuable, we must use it sparingly.


THE SELF-HEALING

Responsibility: If something goes wrong on a Methodology
effort, the fault is with the Methodology, not the people. (The
Methodology, after all, made all of the decisions.) Working in such
an environment is virtually responsibility-free. People want to
accept responsibility, but they won't unless given acceptable degrees
of freedom to control their own success.

Motivation: The message in the decision to impose a Methodology
is apparent to all. Nothing could be more demotivating
than the knowledge that management thinks its workers incompetent.


The Issue of Malicious Compliance

Those who build Methodologies are tortured by the thought that
thinking people will simply ignore them. In many organizations,
that is just what happens. Even more upsetting is the opposite
possibility: that people won't ignore the Methodology, but will
instead do exactly what it says to do, even when they know doing
so will lead to wasted time, unworkable products, and meaningless
documentation. This is what our cohort Ken Orr calls "malicious
compliance." When the Methodology calls for an eighteen-pait
operator's manual, developers may write one, even for a product so
deeply imbedded in an engine or a satellite that no operator intervention
is possible. When the Methodology says you have to fill out a
database residency form for each data element, developers may do
so, even though the system has no database.

In Australia, where striking uses up nearly as much labor time
as working, there is a charming form of strike called work to rule.
Rather than walk off the job, workers open up a fat book of procedures
and announce, "Until you give us what we're asking for,
we're going to work exactly to the rule." When the air traffic controllers
do this, for instance, they can only land one plane every
seven minutes. If doctors were to do it, an appendectomy would
take a week. Introduction of a Methodology opens up the possibility
of work-to-rule actions in still more parts of the economy.
People might actually do exactly what the Methodology says, and
the work would grind nearly to a halt.

The Baby and the Bathwater

Most of the benefits claimed on behalf of Methodologies are really
benefits of convergence of method. To the extent that different peo



118 PEOPLEWARE

pie doing the same work converge on the same methods and use
them the^ same way, there can be real advantages. Maintenance
personnel will be able to relate more quickly to new products,
developers will be able to move onto new projects and get up to
speed more quickly, metrics will be consistently defined from one
effort to another, and certain kinds of failures will be more readily
detectable. Convergence of method is a good thing. But Methodologies
are not the only way to achieve convergence.

Methodologies seek to force convergence through statute.
There is an inevitable backlash, the result partly of enforcers'
heavy-handedness and partly of thinking workers' strong sense of
independence, the cowboy mentality so common to those who
populate any new frontier. Better ways to achieve convergence of
method are

Training: People do what they know how to do. If you

give them all a common core of methods, they will tend

to use those methods.

Tools: A few automated aids for modeling, design,

implementation, and test will get you more convergence

of method than all the statutes you can pass.

Peer Review: In organizations where there are active
peer review mechanisms (quality circles, walkthroughs,
inspections, technology fairs), there is a natural tendency
toward convergence.

It's only after this kind of gently guided convergence that you
may think of publishing a standard. You can't really declare
something a standard until it has already become a de facto standard.
This is fundamental to the theory of standardization at
DuPont, for instance. In that company's standards manual, it
defines a standard as "a proven method for undertaking a repeated
task." The manual goes on to explain that proven means "demonstrated
widely and successfully within DuPont." That seems like
common sense to us, but it goes against the industry-wide convention
of hunting out new approaches and imposing them as standards
before anyone in the organization has even tried them out.


THE SELF-HEALING SYSTEM 119


The High-Tech Illusion Revisited

The obsession with Methodologies in the workplace is another
instance of the high-tech illusion. It stems from the belief that what
really matters is the technology. Even the best imaginable Methodology,
one that prescribes exactly the right method for every activity,
may give only a small improvement in the technology. The people,
after all, aren't going to make every decision wrong, even
without guidance. Whatever the technological advantage may be, it
may come only at the price of a significant worsening of the team's
sociology.

The opposite approach would be one in which every new undertaking
is run as a pilot project. To the extent that there was a
standard way to carry out the work, that would be the only way you
weren't allowed to carry it out. The standard would be for at least
one part of the effort to be run in a nonstandard way. (This seems
to be an informal rule within certain divisions of Fujitsu, for
instance.)

In the spring of 1932, efficiency experts ran a series of tests at
the Hawthorne Western Electric Company to determine the effects of
various environmental parameters on productivity. They tried raising
the light level, and they noted that productivity went up. Then
they tried lowering the light level, and they noted that productivity
went up higher still. They speculated that turning the lights off
entirely might send productivity through the roof. What seemed to
be happening was that the change itself wasn't as important as the
act of changing. People were charmed by differentness, they liked
the attention, they were intrigued by novelty. This has come to be
called the Hawthorne Effect. Loosely stated, it says that people
perform better when they're trying something new.

A careful study of the literature of productivity improvement
could convince you that all productivity improvements are due to the
Hawthorne Effect. Invariably, a paper that touts the wonderful
benefits of X is reporting on productivity gains when X was first
introduced. You almost never hear of a study that analyzes ten-yearold
"improvements" to see if they are still worthwhile. They probably
aren't. With only a modicum of cynicism, we subscribe to the
view that the Hawthorne Effect accounts for most productivity
gains.




To allow the Hawthorne Effect to work for you, you have to
make nonstandard approaches the rule. Whatever standard there is
should be brief and gentle. The total of all standards imposed upon
your people should be described in no more than ten pages. (This is
no pipe dream; many organizations that have given up on the
Methodology-as-Law approach end up with ten-page standards
manuals.) You ought to be prepared to grant exceptions to even this
loose guide. This gives you a development environment consistent
with the views of that famous business sage Mao Tse-tung:

Let a hundred flowers blossom
and let a hundred schools of thought contend.


Of course Mao didn't really mean it, but we do.


PART IV


GROWING PRODUCTIVE TEAMS


Think backover a particularly enjoyable work experience from
your career. What was it that made the experience such a pleasure?
The simplistic answer is, "Challenge." Good work experiences
have always gota fairmeasure ofchallenge about them.

Now think of a specific enjoyable memory from that period,
Play it over in your mind like a videotape. Maybe it was a meeting
or a bull session or an all-nighter or the breakfast that followed one.
If you're like most of us, such memories are vivid and surprisingly
complete. You can hear the sounds and individual voices, you can
see expressions on faces, you're aware of the setting. your
mental videotape now and examine a single frame in detail. Where
is the challenge? We're willing to bet that it doesnft figure into your
memory at all, or if it does, it's a remote part of the background.

What's in the foreground of most of our prized work memories
is team interaction. When a group of people fuse into a
meaningful whole, the entire character of the work changes. The
challenge of the work is important, but not in and of itself; it is
important because it gives us something to focus on together. The
challenge is the instrument for our coming together. In the test
work groups, the ones in which people have the most fun and
perform at their upper limits, team interactions are everything. They
are the reason that people stick it out, put their all into the work,
overcome enormous obstacles.

People work better and have more fun when the team comes
together. Part IV looks into the concept of the successfully bonded
team and things you can do to help such teams



Chapter 18

THE WHOLE IS GREATER
THAN THE SUM OF THE PARTS


We tend to use the word team fairly loosely in the business
world, calling any group of people assigned to work together a
"team." But many of these groups just don't seem like teams. They
don't have a common definition of success or any identifiable team
spirit. Something is missing. What is missing is a phenomenon we
callye//.

Concept of the Jelled Team

A jelled team is a group of people so strongly knit that the whole is
greater than the sum of the parts. The production of such a team is
greater than that of the same people working in unjelled form. Just
as important, the enjoyment that people derive from their work is
greater than what you'd expect given the nature of the work itself.
In some cases, jelled teams working on assignments that others
would declare downright dull have a simply marvelous time.

Once a team begins to jell, the probability of success goes up
dramatically. The team can become almost unstoppable, a juggernaut
for success. Managing these juggernaut teams is a real pleasure.
You spend most of your time just getting obstacles out of their
way, clearing the path so that bystanders don't get trampled underfoot:
"Here they come, folks. Stand back and hold onto your hats."
They don't need to be managed in the traditional sense, and they
certainly don't need to be motivated. They've got momentum.

The reasons for this effect are not so complex: Teams by their
very nature are formed around goals. (Think of the sports team:


124 PEOPLEWARE

Could it even exist without a goal?) Prior to a team's jelling, the
individuals on the team might have had a diversity of goals. But as
part of the jelling process, they have all bought on to the common
goal. This corporate goal takes on an enhanced importance because
of its significance to the group. Even though the goal itself may
seem arbitrary to team members, they pursue it with enormous
energy.

Management by Hysterical Optimism

Some managers are disturbed by the sentiments of the preceding
paragraph. They find it distasteful to consider any artifice for getting
workers to accept corporate goals. Why should we need to form
elaborate social units to do that? After all, professional developers
are supposed to accept their employer's goals as a condition of
employment. That's what it means to be a professional.

Believing that workers will automatically accept organizational
goals is the sign of naive managerial optimism. The mechanism by
which individuals involve themselves in the organization's objectives
is more complex than that. You wouldn't be surprised to
learn, for example, that the fellow you know as a database specialist
is more inclined to describe himself as a father, a boy scout leader,
and a member of the local school board. In these roles, he makes
thoughtful value judgments all the time. What would be a surprise
is if he stopped making value judgments when he arrived at work.
He doesn't He is continually at work examining each claim for his
individual energies and loyalty. Organizational goals come in for
constant scrutiny by the people who work for the organization, and
most of those goals are judged to be awfully arbitrary.

The dilemma here is that as boss, you have probably accepted
the corporate goal (bring the project home by next April for less than
$750,000), and accepted it wholeheartedly. If your staff isn't just
as enthusiastic, you're disappointed. Their lack of interest might
seem almost treasonous to you. But hold on here, is it possible that
your own strong identification with a corporate goal stems from
something beyond mere professionalism? Isn't it true that some artful
engineering on the part of your boss and the powers above has
made that corporate goal line up exactly with one of your own?
Meeting the corporate aims is certain to lead directly to more authority
and responsibility for you: "Today the Sysboombah Project,
tomorrow the world!" Throughout the upper ranks of the organization,
there is marvelous ingenuity at work to be sure that each man



THE WHOLE IS GREATER THAN THE SUM OF THE PARTS 125

ager has a strong personal incentive to accept the corporate goals.
Only at the bottom, where the real work is performed, does this
ingenuity fail. There we count on "professionalism" and nothing
else to assure that people are all pulling in the same direction. Lots
of luck.

If you work for the Save the Snaildarters Foundation or the
First Fiberoni Church of Holy Purity or any other organization in
which all employees are bound together by common belief, then you
may be able to count on their natural affinity for the organization's
goals. Otherwise forget it. While the executive committee may get
itself all heated up over a big increase in profits, this same objective
is pretty small potatoes to people at the bottom of the heap. PROFIT
UP ONE BILLION DOLLARS AT MEGALITHIC INC. Ho-hum. COMPANY
LOGS RECORD QUARTER. Zzzzzzzz.

/ once ran a telecommunications project for a large
consumer finance company. This organization was in
the business of lending money to poor people at outlandishly
high rates of interest, a business that is
illegal in twenty-three states. Increasing the company's
already huge profit was not something the average
worker could easily identify with but management
seemed to think it was. A delegation came to talk to me
late one Friday afternoon. The company's chances for
the best second quarter in history were in our hands,
they said. They asked me to share this fact with the
rest of the team, "to focus their efforts." I had never
worked on a more focused team in my life, but I dutifully
passed the word on the next morning. (They were
so fired up that the whole team was in, even though it
was a Saturday). The energy went out of the team like
wind out of a sail. The chief programmer summed it all
up, "Who gives a rat's ass for their second quarter?"
Half an hour later, they'd all gone home.

—TDM

Getting the system built was an arbitrary goal, but the team had
accepted it. It was what they had formed around. From the time of
jelling, the team itself had been the real focus for their energies.
They were in it for joint success, the pleasure of achieving the goal,
any goal, together. Refocusing their attention on the company's


126 PEOPLEWARE

interest in the project didn't help. It just made success seem trivial
and meaningless.

The Guns of Navarone

Goals of corporations are always going to seem arbitrary to people—
corporations seem arbitrary to people—but the arbitrariness of
goals doesn't mean no one is ever going to accept them. If it did,
we wouldn't have sports. The goals in sports are always utterly arbitrary.
The Universe doesn't care whether the little white ball goes
between the posts at Argentina's end of the field or those at Italy's.
But a lot of people get themselves very involved in the outcome.
Their involvement is a function of the social units they belong to.

Those at the periphery of a team may be mildly interested in
the team's success or failure, but their interest is tiny compared to
that of the team members. People who work on jelled teams often
get so involved that they're psyched up enough to storm the guns of
Navarone, all just to pass the version 3 acceptance test for the pension
trust system. You have to remind them that what they're striving
to accomplish is not the Moral Equivalent of War.

In spite of the useful energy and enthusiasm that characterize
jelled teams, managers don't take particular pains to foster them.
Part of the reason is an imperfect understanding of why teams matter.
The manager who is strongly motivated toward goal attainment
is likely to observe that teams don't attain goals; people on the
teams attain goals. Virtually all of the component tasks required to
meet the objective are performed by the individuals who make up the
team. Most of this work is done by individuals working alone.

There is very little true teamwork required in most of our
work. But teams are still important, for they serve as a device to get
everyone pulling in the same direction.

The purpose of a team is not goal attainment but
goal alignment.

When the team is fulfilling its purpose, team members are more
effective because they're more directed.


THE WHOLE IS GREATER THAN THE SUM OF THE PARTS 127

Signs of a Jelled Team

A few very characteristic signs indicate that a jelled team has
occurred. The most important of these is low turnover during projects
and in the middle of well-defined tasks. The team members
aren't going anywhere till the work is done. Things that matter
enormously prior to jell (money, status, position for advancement)
matter less or not at all after jell. People certainly aren't about to
leave their team for a rinky-dink consideration like a little more
salary. Sadly, managers often miss this strong indication of their
own success. They are disinclined to pay attention to turnover even
when it's killing them; when turnover is low, they don't think about
it at all.

Jelled teams are usually marked by a strong sense of identity.
The teams you hear discussed in the industry have colorful names:
the "Okie Coders" at General Electric, or the "Gang of Four" at
DuPont, or the "Chaos Group" at Cincinnati Gas & Electric.
Teammates may all use the same catch phrases and share many in-
jokes. There may be obvious team space. The teams may congregate
at lunch or hang out at the same watering hole after work.

There is a sense ofeliteness on a good team. Team members
feel they're part of something unique. They feel they're better than
the run of the mill. They have a cocky, SWAT Team attitude that
may be faintly annoying to people who aren't part of the group.

There is invariably a feeling ofjoint ownership of the product
built by the jelled team. Participants are pleased to have their names
grouped together on a product or a part of one. The individual is
eager for peer review. The team space is decorated with views of
the product as it approaches completion.

The final sign of a jelled team is the obvious enjoyment that
people take in their work. Jelled teams just feel healthy. The interactions
are easy and confident and warm.

Teams and Cliques

If it made you at all uneasy to read about jelled teams sticking to
themselves and feeling slightly superior to the rest of the world,


128 PEOPLEWARE

you're not the only one. We can almost hear you thinking, "Wait a
minute, what these guys are calling a 'team' may be what we would
call a 'clique.' Teams may be good, but aren't cliques something to
be avoided at all cost?"

The difference between a team and a clique is like the difference
between a breeze and a draft. Breeze and draft have identical
meanings: They both mean "cool current of air." If you find that
cool current of air delightful, you call it a breeze; if you find it
annoying, you call it a draft. The connotations are different, but the
denotation is the same. Similarly, there is no difference in denotation
between a team and a clique, but the connotations are opposite.
People use team when the tight bonding of the jelled working
group is pleasing to them. And they use clique when it represents a
threat.

Fear of cliques is a sign of managerial insecurity. The greater
the insecurity, the more frightening the idea of a clique can be.
There are reasons for this: Managers are often not true members of
their teams (more about this in Chapter 23), so the loyalties that
exclude them are stronger than the ones that bind them into the
group. The loyalties within the group are stronger than those tying
the group to the company. Then there is the awful thought that a
tightly knit team may leave en masse and take all of its energy and
enthusiasm over to the competition. For all these reasons, the insecure
manager is threatened by cliques. He or she would feel better
working with a staff of uniform plastic people, identical, interchangeable,
and unbonded.

The jelled work group may be cocky and self-sufficient, irritating
and exclusive, but it does more to serve the manager's real
goals than any assemblage of interchangeable parts could ever do.


Chapter 19
THE BLACK TEAM


The value of jelled teams will be obvious to you if you have
already had the enjoyable experience of working on one. But just in
case you haven't,: this chapter is intended to give you some sense of
what they're like. Presented below is the story of a well-known
team that began to make its mark in the early 1960s. Some of the
lore of this team must surely be exaggerated, but it makes a good
yarn, and at least most of it is true.

The Stuff of Which Legends Are Made

Back in the dawn of time (relatively speaking), there was a company
in upper New York State that made large blue computers. The
company also made software to run on these computers. Customers
of this company were nice enough folks, but just between us, they
could be awfully poor sports about software delivered with bugs.
For a while, the company put its efforts into training the customers
to make them more tolerant of bugs. But this approach didn't work
out, so they bit the bullet and decided to get rid of the bugs instead.

The easy and obvious approach was to have the programmers
remove all bugs prior to delivery. For some reason this didn't work
too well either. It seems that the programmers (at least the ones
back in those days) were rather too inclined to believe the best of
their programs. Try as they might, they couldn't find the last
remaining bugs, so they often declared the software to be done
when there were still lots of bugs.

129




Finding the last bug was hard, but some testers were better
than others. The company formed a group of these particularly talented
testers and gave them the charter to do final testing on critical
software before it was sent to the customers. Thus was born the
legendary Black Team.

The Black Team was initially made up of people who had
proved themselves to be slightly better at testing than their peers.
They were slightly more motivated. They also were testing code
that had been written by someone else, so they were free of the cognitive
dissonance that hampers developers when testing their own
programs. All in all, those who formed the team might have
expected it to achieve at least a modest improvement in product
quality, but they didn't expect more than that. What they got was
much more than that.

The most surprising thing about the Black Team was not how
good it was at the beginning, but how much it improved during the
next year. Some magic was happening: The team was forming a
personality of its own. This personality was being shaped by an
adversary philosophy of testing that evolved among group members,
a philosophy that they had to want and expect to find defects.
They weren't rooting for the developers at all, quite the opposite.
They were delighting in submitting the program (and the programmer)
to a sequence that was not just a test, but an ordeal. Bringing
your program in for Black Team testing was like appearing before
Ming the Merciless.

Pitiful Earthlings, What Can Save You Now?

At first it was simply a joke that the tests they ran were mean and
nasty, and that the team members actually loved to make your code
fail. Then it wasn't a joke at all. They began to cultivate an image
of destroyers. What they destroyed was not only your code but
your whole day. They did monstrously unfair things to elicit failure,
overloading the buffers, comparing empty files, and keying in
outrageous input sequences. Grown men and women were reduced
to tears by watching their programs misbehave under the demented
handling of these fiends. The worse they made you feel, the more
they enjoyed it.

To enhance the growing image of nastiness, team members
began to dress in black (hence the name Black Team). They took to
cackling horribly whenever a program failed. Some of the members
grew long mustaches that they could twirl in Simon Legree fashion.


THE BLACK TEAM 131

They'd get together and work out ever more awful testing ploys.
Programmers began to mutter about the diseased minds on the Black
Team.

Needless to say, the company was delighted. Every defect the
team found was one that the customers wouldn't find. The team
was a success. It succeeded as a test group, but more important for
our purposes here, it succeeded as a social unit. People on the team
got such a kick out of what they were doing that colleagues outside
the team were positively jealous. The black outfits and the silly
exaggerated behavior were part of the fun, but there was something
much more fundamental going on. The chemistry within the group
had become an end in itself.

Footnote

Over time, members of the team moved on one at a time to other
things. Since the team function was important to the company,
departing members were replaced immediately. This continued until
finally there wasn't a single member left of the original group. But
there was still a Black Team. The team survived the loss of all its
original staff, and it emerged with its energy and its personality
intact.


Chapter 20
TEAMICIDE


What's called for here is a concise chapter entitled "Making
Teams Jell at Your Company." It should have half a dozen simple
prescriptions for good team formation. These prescriptions should
be enough to guarantee jelled teams. In the planning stage of this
work, that is exactly the chapter we expected to write. We were
confident. How difficult could it be to cut to the heart of the matter
and give the reader practical tools to aid the process of making teams
jell? We would apply all our skills, all our experience; we would
overwhelm the problem with logic and pure brilliance. That's how
it looked in the planning stage....

Between plan and execution, there were a few distressing
encounters with reality. The first of these was that we just couldn't
come up with the six prescriptions needed for the chapter. We got
stuck at zero. We'd been prepared to scale our expectations down a
bit, but not this much. ("Zero Things You Can Do to Make Teams
Jell"?) It seemed clear that something was wrong with the underlying
notion of the chapter. What was wrong was the whole idea of
making teams jell. You can't make teams jell. You can hope they
will jell; you can cross your fingers; you can act to improve the odds
of jelling; but you can't make it happen. The process is much too
fragile to be controlled.

Part of our scaling down of expectations involved a change in
vocabulary. We stopped talking about building teams, and talked
instead of growing them. The agricultural image seemed right.
Agriculture isn't entirely controllable. You enrich the soil, you plant
seeds, you water according to the latest theory, and you hold your

132



TEAMICIDE 133

breath. You just might get a crop; you might not. If it all comes up
roses, you'll feel fine, but next year you'll be sweating it out again.
That's pretty close to how team formation works.

Back to brainstorming mode: We began looking for "Six
Things You Can Do to Make Team Formation Possible." It was still
hard. At last, in desperation, we tried a trick called inversion,
described in Edward deBono's Lateral Thinking. When you're
stuck trying to solve a problem, deBono suggests that rather than
looking for ways to achieve your goal, look for ways to achieve the
exact opposite of your goal. This can have the effect of clearing
away the brain's cobwebs that keep you from being creative. So
instead of looking for ways to make team formation possible, we
began to think of ways to make it impossible. That was easy. In no
time at all, we came up with lots of sure-fire ways to inhibit the formation
of teams and disrupt project sociology. These measures,
taken together, constitute a strategy we dubbed teamicide. Our short
list of teamicide techniques is presented below:

. defensive management
. bureaucracy
. physical separation
. fragmentation of people' s time
. quality reduction of the product
. phony deadlines
. clique control
Some of these techniques will look awfully familiar. They are
things that companies do all the time.

Defensive Management

It makes good sense for you the manager to take a defensive posture
in most areas of risk. If you must work with a piece of failure-
prone gear, you get a backup; if the client is inclined to vacillate, you
take pains to nail down the product specifications; if a contract vendor
tends to "forget" promises, you publish minutes after each
meeting.

There's one area, though, where defensiveness will always
backfire: You can't protect yourself against your own people's
incompetence. If your staff isn't up to the job at hand, you will fail.
Of course, if the people are badly suited to the job, you should get
new people. But once you've decided to go with a given group,


134 PEOPLEWARE

your best tactic is to trust them. Any. defensive measure taken to
guarantee success in spite of them will only make things worse. It
may give you some relief from worry in the short term, but it won't
help in the long run, and it will poison any chance for the team to
jell.

/ found myself one day giving Consultant's Speech
Number 9B to a project group, chastising them because
they'd failed to get client approval for their emerging
concept of a new system. They all looked faintly embarrassed.
Finally one of them said, "We all agree that
the client ought to be seeing this stuff. But our boss
has laid down a firm rule that nothing will ever be
shown to people outside the project unless it has his
approval." She went on to explain that the boss was so
swamped that months of work had piled up in his In-
box. What option did they have? They were just plugging
away in the dark knowing full well that most of
what they were producing wouldn't pass muster with
the client staff when it was finally shown to them.

—TRL

The boss didn't trust his own people. He was worried they
might show something that was wrong to client personnel. He was
worried that their errors might reflect badly on him. Only his own
judgment was competent; anyone else's was suspect.

If you're the manager, of course you're going to feel that your
judgment is better than that of people under you. You have more
experience and perhaps a higher standard of excellence than they
have; that's how you got to be the manager. At any point in the
project where you don't interpose your own judgment, your people
are more likely to make a mistake. So what? Let them make some
mistakes. That doesn't mean you can't override a decision (very
occasionally) or give specific direction to the project. But if the staff
comes to believe it's not allowed to make any errors of its own, the
message that you don't trust them comes through loud and clear.
There is no message you can send that will better inhibit team formation.


Most managers give themselves excellent grades on knowing
when to trust their people and when not to. But in our experience,
too many managers err on the side of mistrust. They follow the


TEAMICIDE 135

basic premise that their people may operate completely autonomously,
as long as they operate correctly. This amounts to no
autonomy at all. The only freedom that has any meaning is the
freedom to proceed differently from the way your manager would
have proceeded. This is true in a broader sense, too: The right to
be right (in your manager's eyes or in your government's eyes) is
irrelevant; it's only the right to be wrong that makes you free.

The most obvious defensive management ploys are prescriptive
Methodologies ("My people are too dumb to build systems
without them") and technical interference by the manager. Both
are doomed to fail in the long run. In addition, they make for
efficient teamicide. People who feel untrusted have little inclination
to bond together into a cooperative team.

Bureaucracy

Studies conducted by Capers Jones in the 1970s and 1980s reported
on systems development costs by work category. One of the
categories was "Paperwork." What Jones calls paperwork is
more or less mindless paper pushing, since the thinking time necessary
to decide what to put on the paper is categorized as some
other activity, such as analysis, design, or test planning. In other
words, his "paperwork" category is pure bureaucracy. Jones concluded
that paperwork is the second largest category of systems
development work. It accounts for more than thirty percent of the
cost of producing a given product.

There is a depressing modern trend to make development
workers more and more into bureaucrats. Perhaps this is a sign of
epidemic defensive management. But while the trend is global, it
is not at all uniform. We know of companies in which the
development groups look and feel like a bureaucratic nightmare
by Kafka, and other companies in which the paperwork burden is
minuscule.

Mindless paper pushing is a waste. It ought to be attacked
because it keeps people from working. But our point here is a
slightly different one. It is that bureaucracy hurts team formation.
The team needs to believe in whatever goal it forms around. That
goal can be arbitrary, but at least it has to exist. There has to be
some evidence that management believes in it. Just telling your
people that the goal matters won't be enough if you also have to
tell them they should spend a third of their time pushing paper.
Paper pushers just can't get themselves into SWAT Team mode.
They can't see themselves hellbent for success.


136 PEOPLEWARE

Physical Separation

When the Furniture Police makes its case for the Zippo-Flippo
Modular Office System, all the talk is of "flexibility." But when
it comes time to flex a bit to put a work group together, the long
faces come out. "We can't disrupt everything and move stuff
around over our lovely carpet just to get these four people into
adjacent space. Can't they use telephones?" The result is that
what could be a tightly bound team is scattered over multiple
floors or even in different buildings. The specific work interactions
may not suffer terribly, but there is no casual interaction.
Group members may grow stronger bonds to nongroup neighbors,
just because they see more of them. There is no group space, no
immediate and constant reinforcement, no chance of a group culture
forming. (You couldn't imagine Black Team members all
dressing in black if their workspaces were not together; they'd be
constantly interacting with people who weren't in on the joke,
who just thought they were bizarre, and the whole funny bit
would die with a whimper.)

Physical separation of people who are expected to interact
closely doesn't make much sense anyway. Neighboring workers
are a source of noise and disruption. When they're all on the
same team, they tend to go into quiet mode at the same time, so
there is less interruption of flow. Putting them together also gives
them opportunity for the casual interaction that is so necessary for
team formation.

Fragmentation of Time

One of my clients is an agency of the Australian
government. During one consulting call, I collected
data indicating that the average worker there
was involved in four or more different projects. I
complained about this to the Commissioner. He
said it was regrettable, but just a fact of life.
People's duties were fragmented because their
skills and knowledge made them indispensable to
efforts other than the principal ones they were
assigned to. He said it was inevitable. I said it
was nonsense. I proposed that he make it a specific
policy that people be assigned to one and only
one project at a time and that the policy be written
down and widely distributed. He was game. A


TEAMICIDE 137

year later, when I returned, the average worker was
assigned to fewer than two projects.

—TDM

Fragmentation is bad for team formation, but it's also bad for
efficiency. (Perhaps you've begun to pick up a trend here.) Peoplecan keep track of only so many human interactions. When they try
to be part of four working groups, they have four times as manyinteractions to track. They spend all their time changing gears.

No one can be part of multiple jelled teams. The tight interactions
of the jelled team are exclusive. Enough fragmentation and
teams just won't jell. The saddest thing is we allow far more fragmentation
than is really necessary. We tend to concede this battle
without even a fight. Simply saying that a goal is to assign people
only one piece of work at a time can result in significant reductions
of fragmentation, and thus give teams a real chance to form.

The Quality-Reduced Product

The heading used here is a facetious one; nobody really talks about
quality-reduced products. What they talk about is cost-reduced
products. But it usually boils down to the same thing. The typical
steps we take to deliver a product in less time result in lower quality.
Often the product's end user gives willing consent to this trade-off
(less quality for earlier, cheaper delivery). But such concessions
can be very painful for the developers. Their self-esteem and enjoyment
are undermined by the necessity of building a product of
clearly lower quality than what they are capable of.

An early casualty of quality reduction is whatever sense of
team identification the group has been able to build. Co-workers
who are developing a shoddy product don't even want to look each
other in the eye, There is no joint sense of accomplishment in store
for them. They know that there will be a general sense of relief
when they can stop doing what they're doing. At the end of the
project, they'll make every effort to separate themselves from other
members of the group, and get on to better things.

Phony Deadlines

In Chapter 3, we made the point that tight deadlines can sometimes
be demotivating. But there are certainly cases where a tight but not


138 PEOPLEWARE

impossible deadline can constitute an enjoyable challenge to the
team. What's never going to help, however, is aphony deadline.
When the manager intones, "We absolutely must be done by ,"
group members can barely keep their eyes from rolling. They've
been there before. They know the whole routine.

Maybe phony deadlines used to work. Maybe there were once
workers so naive that they actually believed what they heard. When
the boss said the job "reeely reeely has to be done by January,"
maybe they just accepted it and buckled down. Maybe. But it certainly
doesn't work that way anymore. The people on your staff will
know if they're being bamboozled. If you say the product absolutely
has to be out the door by some arbitrary date, they will ask,
"Why? Will the universe grind to a halt if we're late? Will the company
fold? Will the nation slide into the sea? Will Western
Civilization break down?"

In the typical phony deadline spiel, the manager announces
that the work must be done on such and such a date. The date mentioned
is impossible to meet, and everyone knows it. The effort will
certainly slip (so much for the idea that the deadline is absolute).
The work has been defined in such a way that success is impossible.
The message to the workers is clear: The boss is a Parkinsonian
robot with no respect or concern for them. The boss believes they
won't do a stroke of work except under duress. Don't expect a
jelled team on that project.

Clique Control

A participant at one of our seminars made this observation: "The
only time our management shows any awareness of teams is when it
takes specific steps to break them up." There may be an explicit
policy that teams can't be allowed to stay together from one job to
another. Or, there may be a policy that projects winding down have
to be de-staffed smoothly over time so that the personnel organization
can steer people efficiently into new projects. This assures that
teams will be broken up. Still other organizations take no specific
steps to disband teams, but miss every opportunity to keep them
together.

The pleasures of team activity and the energy that is produced
by team interaction are articles of faith in our society. How did
business organizations ever come to be so apathetic or even antipathetic
toward teams? Part of the reason is insecurity, as indicated
in Chapter 19. Another part is a conspicuously low consciousness


TEAMICIDE 139

of teams in upper management. The team phenomenon, as we've
described it, is something that happens only at the bottom of the
hierarchy. For all the talk about "management teams," there really is
no such thing—certainly never jelled teams at the managerial level.
When managers are bonded into teams, it's only because they serve
dual roles: manager on the one hand and group member on the
other. They become accepted as part-time peers by the people they
manage. As you go higher and higher in the organization chart, the
concept ofjelled teams recedes further andfurther into oblivion.

Once More Over the Same Depressing Ground

Most organizations don't set out consciously to kill teams, They
just act that way.


Chapter 21
A SPAGHETTI DINNER


Picture yourself a technical worker who's just been assigned
to a new project. You know the manager and most of the other
project personnel by name, but that's about it. Your first day on the
new project is next Monday. On Wednesday before that Monday,
you get a call from your boss-to-be. She's having a get-together,
she says, for people on the new project. Is there any chance you
could come by her place on Thursday evening for dinner with the
rest of the team? You're free and want to meet the new group, so
you accept.

When you arrive, the whole group is sitting around the living
room drinking beer and telling war stories. You join in and tell a
few of your own. The client liaison, who has also been invited,
does a bit about his department head. Everybody has another beer.
You begin to wonder about food. There is no smell of anything
cooking and no sign of anyone working in the kitchen. Finally your
boss-to-be admits that she hasn't had time to make dinner, and suggests
that the whole crew walk over to a nearby supermarket and
assemble the makings of a meal. "I guess we must be capable of
putting a spaghetti dinner together."

Team Effects Beginning to Happen

Off you go. In the supermarket, you amble as a group through the
aisles. Nobody takes charge. Your boss seems to have anything on
her mind but dinner. She chats and laughs and offers up a story
about the IRS. In spite of a general lack of direction, some things


A SPAGHETTI DINNER 141

do get thrown into the cart. One fellow has already gotten the salad
pretty well taken care of. There is some talk of making a clam
sauce, and when nobody's opposed, two of your new mates begin
to talk out the details. You decide to make your patented garlic
bread. Someone else picks out a bottle of Chianti. Finally there is a
consensus that enough stuff is in the cart for dinner.

Back at the ranch, you all set down your bags of groceries and
the boss grabs another beer and tells about a new software tool.
Little by little the party gravitates toward the kitchen where some
preparations are beginning. Your boss gives no direction, but she
pitches in to chop onions when someone suggests that's what's
needed. You start the garlic and olive oil simmering in a pan. There
is a sauce bubbling and some spaghetti boiling. Gradually a dinner
comes together. You all eat till you're full and then share in the
cleanup chores.

What's Been Going on Here?

So far, nobody has billed a single day of effort to the project, but
you've just had your first success as a group. Success breeds success,
and productive harmony breeds more productive harmony.
Your chances ofjelling into a meaningful team are enhanced by your
very first experience together.

Presented this way, the spaghetti dinner may seem like a contrivance
on the manager's part. But it probably wasn't and wouldn't
have seemed like it had you been there. If you had asked the manager
in question what she had in mind for the evening, she would
have probably replied in total sincerity, "Dinner." A natural manager
has got a subconscious feel for what's good for the team. This
feel may govern decisions throughout the project. The entire
experience is organized for small, easy joint successes. You have to
look twice to see the manager's hand in any of this, it just seems to
be happening.

Variations on the story of the spaghetti dinner have been told
to us in different forms and about different managers for years. The
common thread is that good managers provide frequent easy opportunities
for the team to succeed together. The opportunities may be
tiny pilot sub-projects, or demonstrations, or simulations, anything
that gets the team quickly into the habit of succeeding together. The
best success is the one in which there is no evident management, in
which the team works as a genial aggregation of peers. The best
boss is the one who can manage this over and over again without the


142 PEOPLEWARE

team members knowing they've been "managed." These bosses are
viewed bytheirpeers asjustlucky. Everythingseems tobreak right
for them. They get a fired-up team of people, the project comes
together quickly, and everyone stays enthusiastic through the end.
These managers never break into a sweat. It looks so easy that no
one canbelievethey aremanaging atall.


Chapter 22
OPEN KIMONO


Growingjelled teams is a fairly chancy matter. Nobody does
it consistently. Nobody can make it happen, particularly when it
would be most useful. Sometimes the mix is wrong. And sometimes
the group is staffed with folks who aren't disposed to become
part of a team; they're loners and always will be.

In his book People and Project Management,, Rob Thomsett
analyzes certain of the pathologies that interfere with team formation.
It makes fascinating reading. However, few of these pathologies
are treatable. About the only remedy is to remove certain members
from the project because they hurt the chances of a team to jell.
That may sound okay in the abstract, but in any specific case you're
likely to find such a remedy plain silly. The very person you'd be
inclined to do without for this reason will probably be a star in many
other respects. Lots of efforts have to proceed (and succeed) without
jelled teams.

Having said all that, we know this indisputable fact: Some
managers are pretty good at helping teams to jell. They succeed
more often than not. In this chapter, we examine one characteristic
of these team-oriented managers.

Calling in Well

Chances are you've heard of people calling in sick. You
may have called in sick a few times yourself. But have
you ever thought of calling in well?


144 PEOPLEWARE

It'd go like this: You'd get the boss on the line and say,
"Listen, I've been sick ever since I started working
here, but today I'm well and I won't be in anymore."

—Even Cowgirls Get the Blues

When people talk about an organization that you'd have to be
"sick" to work for, they're not referring to physiological sickness.
They mean that working in such a place would require them to disregard
certain mental survival rules, rules that protect the well-being
of the psychological self. The most important of these rules has to
do with self-regard. A job situation that hurts your self-regard is
itself "sick."

The person who calls in well is ready for work that enhances
self-regard. Assignment to such work is an acknowledgment of
certain areas of competence, and it provides autonomy and responsibility
in these areas. Managers of well workers are careful to
respect that autonomy, once granted. They know that a worker's
failure will reflect badly on the boss, but that's just the breaks of the
game. They're prepared to suffer the occasional setback, a direct
result of failure by one of their people. When it happens, they suspect
it will be a failure that they themselves would never have
caused, had they been doing the work rather than managing it. But
so what? You give your best shot to putting the right person in the
position, but once he or she is there, you don't second-guess.

This Open Kimono attitude is the exact opposite of defensive
management. You take no steps to defend yourself from the people
you've put into positions of trust. And all the people under you are
in positions of trust. A person you can't trust with any autonomy is
of no use to you.

One of my first bosses was Jerry Wiener, who had run
a development team for General Electric on the Dartmouth
time-sharing project. He later formed a small
high-technology company. At the time I came along, the
company was about to enter into a contract that was
larger than anything it had ever done before. The
entire staff was assembled as our corporate lawyer
handed Jerry the contract and told him to read it and
sign on the last page. "I don't read contracts," Jerry


OPEN KIMONO 145

said, and started to sign. "Oh, wait a minute," said the
lawyer, "let me go over it one more time."

—TDM

The lesson here is not that you should sign contracts without
reading them (though that may not be a terrible rule in cases where
you pay counsel to look out for your interests). If you've got the
wrong counsel, you're in deep bananas anyway. Managers who are
most proficient at getting the work done are likely to be way out of
their depth in evaluating contracts for the work. Reading contracts
may be little more than a conceit. Jerry had taken great pains to hire
the best counsel he could find. He'd certainly looked over other
instances of the man's work. This was not the time to be defensive;
it was the time to make it clear to everyone that the boss was
assuming and depending on competence around him.

It's heady and a little frightening to know that the boss has put
part of his or her reputation into the subordinates' hands. It brings
out the best in everyone. The team has something meaningful to
form around. They're not just getting a job done. They're making
sure that the trust that's been placed in them is rewarded. It is this
kind of Open Kimono management that gives teams their best
chance to form.

The Getaway Ploy

The most common means by which bosses defend themselves from
their own people is direct physical oversight. They wander through
the work areas, looking for people goofing off or for incompetence
about to happen. They are the Parkinsonian Patrol, alert for people
to kick. Of course, nobody (neither manager nor worker) thinks
about it that way, since it's so much a part of the corporate culture.
But the thought of doing without it is inconceivable to many managers.


A recent consulting assignment involved taking part in
a project to build a customer information system for a
California company. The spec was written and we were
ready to start blueprinting internal design. The boss
called us all together and handed each person a map
showing the way to an office in faraway Long Beach. He


146 PEOPLEWARE

explained that there was a free conference room there
where we could worked uninterrupted. He would stay
behind and fend off all but the most essential phone
calls. We were told to "come back when you're done."
More than two weeks later, we came back with a hotshot
design. He never called or dropped in once during
the whole period.

—TRL

If you've got decent people under you, there is probably
nothing you can do to improve their chances of success more dramatically
than to get yourself out of their hair occasionally. Any
easily separable task is a perfect opportunity. There is no real management
required for such work. Send them away. Find a remote
office, hire a conference room, borrow somebody's summer house,
or put them up at a hotel. Take advantage of off-season rates at ski
areas or at beaches. Have them go to a conference, and then stay
over for a few days to work together in peace. (We've heard of at
least one instance of each of these ploys.)

Such a plan will cost you some points with your own management
and peers, because it's so audacious. How can you know,
they'll ask you, that your people aren't loafing this very minute?
How can you be sure they won't knock off for lunch at eleven and
drink away their afternoons? The simple answer is you'll know by
the product they come back with. By their fruits, ye shall know
them. If they bring back a carefully thought-out and complete
result, they worked. If they don't, they didn't. Visual supervision
is a joke for development workers. Visual supervision is for prisoners.


Getting away from the office helps in many ways. First of all,
it removes your highest-priced resource from the distractions and
interruptions that fritter away so much of their time. You may succeed
someday in building a productive office environment, a workplace
where it's at least possible to get something useful done
between 9 and 5. But you can only do this in the long run. In the
short run, use any excuse to get your people out. In addition to
making them more efficient, the getaway and the periods of total
autonomy give them an improved chance to jell into a high-momentum
team.


OPEN KIMONO 147

There Are Rules and We Do Break Them

The engineering profession is famous for a kind of development
mode that doesn't exist elsewhere: the skunkworks project.
Skunkworks implies that the project is hidden away someplace
where it can be done without upper management's knowing what's
going on. This happens when people at the lowest levels believe so
strongly in the lightness of a product that they refuse to accept management's
decision to kill it. Digital Equipment Corporation's PDP11,
one of DEC's most successful products, came to the market in
this manner. There is a lore about such projects. The amusing thing
is that skunkworks is really just another word for insubordination,
Management says no, and the project goes on anyway.

One of our clients tried to cancel a product that was judged to
have no market. Cooler heads prevailed and the product was built.
It became a huge success. The manager who had unsuccessfully
tried to kill the project (he now had become president of the whole
company) ordered a medal for the team, with the citation "First
Annual Prize for Insubordination." He presented it with a speech,
stating that others seeking the award had better be just as successful.
Being an insubordinate failure wouldn't get anybody a prize.

People at all levels know whether some sensible insubordination
is acceptable or not. People look out for their Open Kimono
managers. They're determined to make them look good, even
though the managers may botch an occasional decision. Defensive
managers are on their own.

Chickens with Lips

In the middle 1970s, Larry Constantine was counseling certain client
companies to help them build a healthy corporate sociology. One of
the things he advised was for the companies to allow people at the
lowest level some voice in team selection. As implemented, the idea
was that the company would post new projects on a central kiosk.
People would form themselves into candidate teams and then "bid"
on jobs. If you had a hankering to work with some of your mates,
you would put your resumes together and make a joint pitch for the
job. The points in your favor were how well-suited you were to the
job, how well you complemented each other's capacities, and how
little it would disrupt other work in the company to assign you as a


148 PEOPLEWARE

group to this project. The company picked the best-suited team for
each job.

This scheme gave people two unusual degrees of freedom:
They got to choose the projects they worked on and the people they
worked with. The surprising rinding was that the first of these factors
didn't matter very much. Management initially feared that only
the glamorous projects would be bid for, but it didn't happen that
way. Even the most mundane projects were bid for. What seemed
to matter was the chance for people to work with those they wanted
to work with.

The idea of an employment audition, presented in Chapter 15,
has a similar effect. The project members who listen to the audition
are not just an audience; they have a say in whether the person gets
the offer. In addition to technical judgment, they're supplying a
team perspective on how well the candidate will fit in: "I think we
could work with this guy," or "He seems well-qualified, but he'd
stick out like a sore thumb in this group."

Some years ago, we were part of a pretty well-knit working
group, a group whose members started to have many characteristics
in common, in particular, a similar sense of humor. We even developed
a shared theory about humor. This theory held that some
things are intrinsically funny. Chickens, for instance, are funny,
but horses aren't. Lips are hilarious, elbows and knees are funny,
but shoulders are just shoulders. One day we had an audition for a
new group member. After he'd spoken and left, one of our colleagues
critiqued, "I guess you can't fault his knowledge. But do
you think he'd ever come to understand that chickens with lips are
funny?" The candidate didn't get the job.

Who?s in Charge Here?

The best bosses take some chances. They take chances on their
people. None of this says that good managers don't manage, that
they don't give direction and make judgments of their own. They
have to do this all the time. The suggestion here is that they do this
only by exercising their natural authority. Between master craftsman
and apprentice there is a bond of natural authority—the master
knows how to do the work and the apprentice does not. Submitting
to this kind of authority demeans no one, it doesn't remove incentive,
it doesn't make it impossible to knit with fellow workers. An
insecure need for obedience is the opposite of natural authority. It
says, "Recognize me as a different caste of creature, a manager. I


OPEN KIMONO 149

belong to the thinking class. Those beneath me are employed to carry
out my decisions."

In the best organizations, thereis natural authority working in
all directions. The manager is known to be better at some things,
perhaps setting general directions, negotiating, and hiring, and is
trusted to do those things. 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. In this atmosphere of Open Kimono, the team
has its optimal chance to jell.


Chapter 23

CHEMISTRY FOR
TEAM FORMATION


Some organizations are famous for their consistent good luck
in getting well-knit teams to happen. It isn't luck, of course, it's
chemistry. There is something about those organizations, some
optimal mix of competence and trust and mutual esteem and well-
person sociology that provides perfect soil for the growth of jelled
teams. And it's not only team formation that benefits from these
factors. Everything works better. These organizations are just plain
healthy.

Rather than illustrate this with an example from our experience,
we encourage you to think of one from your own. Have you
ever been in an organization that simply glowed with health? People
were at ease, having a good time and enjoying interactions with their
peers. There was no defensiveness, no sense that single individuals
were trying to succeed in spite of the efforts of those around them.
The work was a joint product. Everybody was proud of its quality.
(At least a glimmer of this healthy glow should be apparent in your
present situation. If not, perhaps it's time to call in well, and get
your resume out.)

What are managers up to in these healthiest companies? A
quick surface appraisal might convince you they aren't up to much atall. They don't seem busy. They're not giving a lot of directions.
Whatever their relationship is to the work going on around them,
they're certainly not doing any of it.

In organizations with the best chemistry, managers devote
their energy to building and maintaining healthy chemistry. Depart


150



CHEMISTRY FOR TEAM FORMATION 151

ments and divisions that glow with health do so because their managers
make it happen. There is a holistic integrity to their method,
and so it's hard to break down and analyze the component parts
(how the parts fit together into a whole is more important than what
the parts are). But it's still worth a try.

Presented below is an admittedly simplistic list of the elements
of a chemistry-building strategy for a healthy organization:

. Makeacultofquality.
. Provide lots of satisfying closure.
. Buildasense of eliteness.
. Allowandencourageheterogeneity.
. Preserveandprotect successfulteams.
. Providestrategic butnottactical direction.
There are more. We've cited only those elements that have a particular
effect on team formation. The following subsections provide
our comments on each of these points.

The Cult of Quality

The judgment that a still imperfect product is "close enough" is the
death knell for a jelling team. There can be no impetus to bind
together with your cohorts for the joint satisfaction gained from
delivering mediocre work. The opposite attitude, of "only perfect is
close enough for us," gives the team a real chance. This cult of
quality is the strongest catalyst for team formation.

It binds the team together because it sets them apart from the
rest of the world. The rest of the world, remember, doesn't give a
hoot for quality. Oh, it talks a good game, but if quality costs a
nickel extra, you quickly see the true colors of those who would
have to shell out the nickel.

Our friend Lou Mazzucchelli, chairman of Cadre Technologies,
Inc., was in the market for a paper shredder. He had a salesman
come in to demonstrate a unit. It was a disaster. It was enormous
and noisy (it made a racket even when it wasn't shredding).
Our friend asked about a German-made shredder he'd heard about.
The salesman was contemptuous. It cost nearly half again as much
and didn't have a single extra feature, he responded. "All you get
for that extra money," he said, "is better quality."




Your marketplace, your product consumers, your clients, and
your upper management are never going to make die case for high
quality. Extraordinary quality doesn't make good short-term
economic sense. When team members develop a cult of quality,
they always turn out something that's better than what their market
is asking for. They can do this, but only when protected from
short-term economics. In the long run, this always pays off. People
get high on quality and out-do themselves to protect it.

The cult of quality is what Ken Orr calls "the dirt in the oyster."
It is a focal point for the team to bind around.

I Told Her I Loved Her When I Married Her

It may be news to some, but the human creature needs reassurance
from time to time that he or she is headed in the right direction.
Teams of human creatures need it, too. Such reassurance comes
from what psychologists call closure. Closure is the satisfying
"thunk" of pieces of the whole falling into place.

Organizations also have some need for closure. Closure for
the organization is the successful finish of the work as assigned,
plus perhaps an occasional confirmation along the way that everything
is on target (maybe a milestone achieved or a significant partial
delivery completed). How much confirmation corporations require
is a function of how much money is at risk. Frequently, closure
only at the end of a four-year effort is adequate for the needs of the
organization.

The problem here is that organizations have far less need for
closure than do the people who work for them. The prospect of
four years of work without any satisfying "thunk" leaves everyone
in the group thinking, "I could be dead before this thing is ever
done." Particularly when the team is coming together, frequent closure
is important. Team members need to get into the habit of succeeding
together and liking it. This is part of the mechanism by
which the team builds momentum.

The chemistry-building manager takes pains to divide the
work into pieces and makes sure that each piece has some substantive
demonstration of its own completion. Such a manager may
contrive to deliver a product in twenty versions, even though two
are sufficient for upper management and the user. It may even be
necessary to conceal some of these interim versions from the client,
and build them only for internal confirmation and satisfaction. Each


CHEMISTRY FOR TEAM FORMATION 153

new version is an opportunity for closure. Team members get
warmed up as the moment approaches, they sprint near the very
end. They get a high from success. It suffuses them with renewed
energy for the next step. It makes them feel closer together.

The Elite Team

In the early 1970s, a vice president of one of our client companies
sent around a memo on the subject of travel expenses to everyone in
his division. You may have received similar memos on the topic
yourself, but this one was different. It said more or less this: "It
has come to my attention that some of you, when traveling on
expenses, have been traveling economy class. This is not an economy-
class organization. This is a first-class organization. When
you fly on business from now on, you will fly first class." Of
course that memo cost money. The expense was very real and the
only thing you could balance against it was an enhanced sense of
eliteness. At least one organization thought that was a valid trade-
off. Couldn't happen in a real-world corporation, you say? It happened
at Xerox.

Those who think popcorn is "unprofessional" think team
eliteness is downright subversive. There is a widespread feeling
that managers are just not doing their jobs if the team sticks out in
any way. The group's adherence to a corporate standard of uniformity
is almost a symbol of the manager's degree of control. Yet
from the viewpoint of the people being managed, this symbol is
deadly. The more comforting it is to the manager, the more it saps
the lifeblood of the team.

People require a sense of uniqueness to be at peace with
themselves, and they need to be at peace with themselves to let the
jelling process begin. When management acts to stifle uniqueness,
uniqueness happens anyway. People simply express their uniqueness
in uncontrolled dimensions. For example, employees who take
a perverse pride in being difficult to manage or hard to motivate or
unable to work with others may be reacting to too much control.
They would almost certainly rather express themselves in some less
difficult way, something that would not work to the detriment of the
group's effectiveness.

What could be wrong with a team that is uniquely quality-
conscious or uniquely productive or uniquely competent to meet atough deadline? Nothing, you might think, yet even these nominally


154 PEOPLEWARE

acceptable forms of uniqueness are upsetting to lots of managers.
They grumble that the teams are unmanageable and uppity. What's
really threatened by the team's eliteness is not manageability, but the
trappings of managerial strength. The team might be hellbent on
success, but the manager is worried about being considered a wimp.

If you could effect some change in the people you manage and
make them much more productive and goal-directed but also less
controllable, would you do it? The answer to this question distinguishes
the great managers from the merely mediocre. The mediocre
manager is too insecure to give up the trappings. The great
manager knows that people can't be controlled in any meaningful
sense anyway; the essence of successful management is to get
everyone pulling in the same direction and then somehow get them
fired up to the point that nothing, not even their manager, could stop
their progress.

A jelled team does have the effect of making people more productive
and goal-directed. And you do give up some control, or at
least the illusion of control, when it jells. The team begins to feel
elite in some way or other, with all members of the team sharing in
the sense of eliteness. The unique thing about the team doesn't have
to be anything very fundamental. For example, there was one
championship football defensive unit whose only unique characteristic
was that all members of the team were "no-names." It was
enough. They took pride in that fact and knit around it. Whatever
the elite characteristic is, it forms the basis of the team's identity,
and identityis anessentialingredient ofa jelledteam.

An important qualifier here is that teams need to be unique in
some sense, but not in all senses. There are lots of examples of
teams that complied with institutional standards of appearance. Military
specialty teams and most sports teams dress alike. But as long
as they are allowed to feel unique in some sense, they can conform
in others.

Managers who feel threatened by elite teams often talk of the
deleterious effect their eliteness can have on people outside the team.
If members of one small working group begin to characterize themselves
as Winners, isn't everyone else automatically put into the category
Losers? It is true that extremely successful teams can be
daunting to those outside the team. But this is not so much the
effect of the team as of the success. If this is your only problem,
you should be writing your own book.


CHEMISTRY FOR TEAM FORMATION 155

On Not Breaking Up the Yankees

If a team does knit, don't break it up. At least give people the option
to undertake another project together. They may choose to go their
separate ways, but they ought to have the choice. When teams stay
together from one project to the next, they start out each new
endeavor with enormous momentum.

A Network Model of Team Behavior

This may offend your sensibilities as a manager, but managers are
usually not part of the teams that they manage. Teams are made up
of peers, equals that function as equals. The manager is most often
outside the team, giving occasional direction from above and clearing
away administrative and procedural obstacles. By definition, the
manager is not a peer and so can't be part of the peer group.

This idea is upsetting to managers who pride themselves on
their leadership. Isn't the manager supposed to supply leadership,
to function as quarterback, spiriting the team on to victory through
judicious play selection and split-second timing? That may sound
good, but the team that needs that much leadership isn't functioning
very well as a team. On the best teams, different individuals provide
occasional leadership, taking charge in areas where they have
particular strengths. No one is the permanent leader, because that
person would then cease to be a peer and the team interaction would
begin to break down.

The structure of a team is a network, not a hierarchy, For all
the deference paid to the concept of leadership (a cult word in our
industry), it just doesn't have much place here.

Selections from a Chinese Menu

In writing about teams, we have traded somewhat on the easy analogy
between teams in industry and teams in sports. The very word
team conjures up an image of healthy young folks sweatily pursuing
footballs or hockey pucks or each other. It's hard to think about
teams without reference to sports, but the sports analogy carries
some unfortunate baggage.

The typical team you see thrashing away on weekend television
is made up of individuals with a lot in common: Members of
a basketball team, for instance, may all be tall, young, strong, and


156 PEOPLEWARE

of the same sex. They're alike because the nature of their
endeavor requires that they be alike. Them is less of a requirement
for sameness on development project teams. But since our
whole notion of teams is affected by the sports example, we often
expect sameness on the team and perhaps unwittingly bring it
about.

A little bit of heterogeneity can be an enormous aid to create
a jelled team. Add one handicapped developer to a newly formed
work group, and the odds go up that the team will knit. The same
effect can result from adding a co-op student or an ex-secretary
on the first project after being retrained. Whatever the heterogeneous
element is, it takes on symbolic importance to team
members. It is a clear signal that it's okay not to be a clone, okay
not to fit into the corporate mold of Uniform Plastic Person.

The saddest example of the overly homogeneous work
group is the all-male team. Women are obvious victims of the
sports analogy: The same male establishment that excluded them
systematically from team sports for so long now compounds the
felony by insinuating that they're probably bad team players. Of
course women function as well on teams as men. Any man who
has worked on mixed teams would find it hard to imagine ever
again working in the all-male environment. That was our fathers'
sad lot.

Putting It All Together

You can't always make it happen, but when a team does come
together, it's worth the cost. The work is fun, the people are energized.
They roll over deadlines and milestones and look for
more. They like themselves. They feel loyal to the team and to
the environment that allows the team to exist.


PART V
ITS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN
TO WORKHERE


Somewhere deep in our ancestral memory is buried the notion
that work is supposed to be onerous. If you enjoy doing something,
it isn't really work. If you enjoy it enough, it's probably sinful.
You ought not to do it too much or even at all. You certainly
shouldn't be paid for it. What you really ought to do is find something
else to work at, something that feels like work. Then you can
be bored, tired, and generally miserable like everybody else.

If you're a manager, this vestigial memory requires you to
make sure that your people never have any fun on the job. Any evidence
of pleasure or joy in the workplace is a sure sign that some
manager is not doing the job properly. Work is not being extracted
with maximum efficiency from the workers, otherwise they
wouldn't be having such a good time.

Of course nobody ever says outright that work ought not to be
fun, but the idea is there, burned into our cultural subconsciousness.
It turns up in the guilty sheepishness we feel if we're ever caught
giggling in delight at the task at hand. It surfaces in our reluctant
acceptance of the dress code, the anti-popcorn code, and the general
furrowed-brow attitude that distinguishes so-called professionals
from people who are enjoying themselves.

In this part we'll address the opposite premise, that work
should be fun.

157



Chapter 24
CHAOS AND ORDER


There is something about human nature that makes us the
implacable enemies of chaos. Whenever we encounter chaos, we
roll up our sleeves and go right to work to replace it with order,
Man-made order is everywhere ... in the home, in the garden, in
the way we comb our hair or organize our streets into neat grids.
But it does not follow from this that we'd be happier if there were
no more chaos. On the contrary, we'd be bored to tears. What
chaos is left in modern society is a precious commodity. We have to
be careful to conserve it and keep the greedy few from hogging
more than their share.

We managers tend to be the greedy few. We often see chaos
as our particular domain. We assume that it's our job to clean it up,
all of it. The Open Kimono manager has a different approach. He
or she is willing to leave small packets of chaos to others. The
manager's job in this approach is to break it up and parcel it out.
The people down below get to have the real fun of putting things
shipshape.

Progress Is Our Most Important Problem

The amount of chaos is ever declining. This is particularly evident
in new technological fields. Those people who were attracted to
such areas years ago by the newness, the lack of order, feel a
nostalgic fondness for the days when everything wasn't so awfully
mechanical. Every great advance of the past twenty years has had

159



160 PEOPLEWARE

the effect of reducing the craziness of our work. Of course those
advances were wonderful—we'd never want to go back to the old
days—but still...

We're all eager to improve our methods and make the business
of development a more orderly enterprise. That's progress. True,
some of the crazy fun is lost in the process but one person's fun
may be another's agony (that project you thought was such a lark
probably gave your boss an ulcer). In any event, progress toward
more orderly, controllable methods is an unstoppable trend. The
thoughtful manager doesn't want to stop the trend, but may
nonetheless feel a need to replace some of the lost disorder that has
breathed so much energy into the work. This leads to a policy of

constructive reintroduction of small amounts of disorder.

Once the idea is stated so baldly, it's simple enough to compile
a list of ways to implement this policy:

pilot projects
war games
brainstorming
provocative training experiences
training, trips, conferences, celebrations, and retreats

For this list, we've limited ourselves to disorder-reintroduction
techniques that we have seen used successfully. Your own list
ought not to be so limited. A short brainstorming session on the
subject (more about brainstorming below) will produce wild and
wonderful possibilities.

Pilot Projects

A pilot project is one in which you set the fat book of standards
aside and try some new and unproved technique. The new technique
will be unfamiliar initially, and so you can expect to be inefficient
at the start in applying it. This is a cost of change. On the
other side of the ledger is the improvement in productivity gained
from using the new technique. Also on the plus side of the ledger is
the Hawthorne Effect, the boost in energy and interest that infuses
your people when they're doing something new and different.

Are these two pluses likely to outweigh the minus caused by
the learning curve? We'd be foolhardy to suggest that they always
would. The nature of the change introduced matters a lot, as do the
length of the project, the capability of the staff members, and the


CHAOS AND ORDER 161

extent to which people believe in the technique they're trying out.
Our experience is that pilot projects, projects that try out any modified
approach, tend toward higher-than-average net
That means you're likely to spend less money on a given project if
you choose to run it as a pilot project with some new technique.


Should all projects therefore be pilot projects? Your organization
would be in good company if it adopted that policy, sharing it
with Fujitsu, parts of the Southern Company, and some divisions of
IBM. In any event, it makes far more sense to run all projects as
pilots than to run no projects as pilots.

There are two likely objections to any expanded program of
piloting new techniques:

. Won't we run out of things to try out?
. Won't we further complicate the downstream activities
(product support, customer training, and so on) by delivering
inconsistent products?
The first objection makes sense only in the abstract. Most organizations,
after decades of having a policy of testing new ideas rarely if
ever, need not worry too much about running out of things to try.
They could begin by trying all the good ideas they ignored during
the 1960s, then moving on to the 1970s and 1980s. By the time
they're through with all those, a decade will have passed and there
will be plenty more to try out

As to the problem of inconsistent products passed downstream,
you may as well admit that this is true anyway in even the
most standardized shop. What present-day standardization has
achieved is a documentary consistency among products, but nothing
approaching meaningful functional consistency. In other words,
standardization has mainly homogenized the paperwork associated
with the products, rather than the products themselves. If the paper
trail left by the project were a little different from standard, the added
inconvenience would be small.

One caveat about pilot projects: Don't experiment with more
than one aspect of development technology on any given project.
For all the talk about the importance of standards, it's surprising
how often managers abandon all standards on the rare project that is
designated a pilot. They often try out new hardware, new software,
new quality control procedures, matrix management, and new prototyping
techniques, all on the same project.




A sensible approach to pilot projects is that they each be allowed
to tinker with one component of the process. In the healthiest
environment, project personnel would understand that they are encouraged
to experiment with some single new technique on each
project, but nonetheless expected to respect standards in other areas.

War Games

From four years of running our Coding War Games, we have
learned that the sometimes raucous, competitive, no-lose experience
can be a delightful source of constructive disorder. Our games are
tailored for the software community, but the concept can be applied
to virtually any field. Whatever your work, it can be an enjoyable
experience to try your hand at a set of tailored problems, and to be
able to compare your performance to a statistical performance profile
of your peers. (Of course, the experience is only enjoyable as long
as the security and confidentiality guarantees described in Chapter 8
are respected and you are thus assured that the game results won't
be used against you.)

War games help you to evaluate your relative strengths and
weaknesses and help the organization to observe its global strengths
and weaknesses. For these reasons, two of our client companies are
now undertaking a program of annual war games, used by their employees
to gauge improvements in their own skills over time. Once
a year, they subject themselves to the confidential testing process,
much as you would submit yourself to a physical exam.

For the purpose of stimulating creative disorder, the most
effective form of war game calls for participants to take part in
teams. The following is one formula for such an exercise, a formula
that we have tried out with some success (and enormous amusement):


1. Select a small development project or well-defined task as a
guinea pig. The best choice is an actual job from your organization,
something that requires from one to two person-
months of effort. Pick a problem that has some novelty and
challenge, but that nonetheless makes broad use of your people's
typical working skills.
2. Conduct the project in a normal fashion up through publication
of a concrete statement of work.

CHAOS AND ORDER 163

3. Announce a 24-Hour Project Tournament to be conducted on
an upcoming weekend. Make sure everybody understands
that you're not saving money at the expense of their weekend,
Explain that the tournament is run over a weekend so the teams
can have the place to themselves, not so you can save on manpower
cost. Encourage people to form teams of four each and
compete on a totally voluntary basis.
4. Distribute the statement of work in advance, along with a
statement of rules and objectives.
5. On the day of the Tournament, only participants are present.
Supply everything they need (food, machines, cots, copiers,
conference rooms, whatever). Have all of the teams undertake
the same work in head-to-head competition with each other.
6. Have facilitators available to enforce the ground rules, ready to
head off fatal problems and to make lots of noise over every
milestone attained.
7. Look for opportunities to make everyone a winner in some
sense (elapsed-time winners, robust-product winners, clever-
solution winners). Make a big fuss over any and all accomplishments.
8. Install the winning product, or perhaps several winning products
in parallel. Keep careful track over time of product
stability, number of defects, level of user acceptance, cost to
change, and whatever other parameters affect project success.
Report meaningful data back to the teams.
When you pull this off successfully, people will tell you they've had
the most exciting and enjoyable experience of their entire careers;
nothing less than that is your goal. Expect to achieve that goal,
though it may take a few tries.

Some tilings to keep in mind about experiences like the Project
Tournament: First, these affairs cost money. Don't go into them
hoping to gull your staff into building something on a Saturday that
you would otherwise have to pay real wages for. Expect to spend
several times more on a Project Tournament than you would on a
conventional running of the same project. Second, invest a lot of


164 PEOPLEWARE

time in making the problem specification particularly solid, bringing
your facilitators up to speed, and building in lots of milestones and
checkpoints. Third, invest some effort to assure the project's scope
is abouttherightsize forthe amount oftimeallocated (noonehas
any fun if all the teams are defeated or if the tournament is finished
an hour after it begins). Finally, look for opportunities to spend
money generously on meals (in one tournament we ordered lovely
picnic lunches catered by a New York City restaurant, had dinner
delivered, and dragged everybody off to Chinatown for .2 a.m.
snacks).

Running the project through a whole night, for some reason,
adds to the fun. People love an excuse to get tired together, to push
back sleep and let their peers see them with their hair down,
unshaved, rumpled, and grumpy, with no makeup or pretense. And
it makes them feel more closely bound to each other:

"During the event, I noticed [one of the participants]

catching a catnap on the rug in the reception area. I'd

known her for years before that and always thought her a

bit stiff. But from that point on, I felt differently about

her. I felt differently about all of them. We'd been

through it together."

—from a tournament post mortem

Brainstorming

Brainstorming is a structured interactive session, specifically targeted
on creative insight. Up to half a dozen people get together to
focus on a relevant problem. The rules of the session and the ploysused by the person in charge help to make it an enjoyable and disorderly
experience, and often a truly rewarding one.

There aren't many rules. Since you're trying to introduce
chaos into the thought process, rules don't have much of a place.
As facilitator, you want to impress on everyone to strive for quantity
of ideas, not quality, and to keep the proceedings loose, even silly.
Sometimes an apparently foolish idea, one that wouldn't even be
mentioned in a more formal session, can turn out to be the prize.
There is no evaluation of proposed ideas during the brainstorming.
The evaluation phase comes later. Discourage negative comments,
like "That's a dumb idea," since dumb ideas often lead others to
think of smart ideas.


CHAOS AND ORDER 165

As facilitator, try these ploys to restart participants' thinking
when the idea flow slows down:

. analogy thinking (How does nature solve this or some
similar problem?)
. inversion (How might we achieve the opposite of our
goal?)
. immersion (How might you project yourself into the
problem?)
See the Notes for some good references on brainstorming.

Training, Trips, Conferences, Celebrations,
and Retreats

Perhaps this is a sad comment on the dismal corporate workplace,
but everybody relishes a chance to get out of the office. The chance
that workers relish most is one combining travel with their peers and
a one-of-a-kind experience. It might be going off together for a
training session, particularly a provocative one, or taking in the
International Conference on Whatever. All the better if the travel is
to someplace romantic. You can send two people from Boston to a
conference in London for about the same cost as sending them to a
conference in St. Louis or Chula Vista.

Particularly when a team is forming, it makes good business
sense to fight for travel money to get team members out of the office
together. If there is a remote client site, ship them off all expenses
paid to check out that territory. When there is a thought-intensive
deliverable due, put them into a conference center or hotel. Give
them the chance to fly together, eat out together, and work out their
roles in the new team.

The Outward Bound schools make a thriving business of
taking corporate groups into the wilderness and testing their mettle.
Groups must make their way over Burma bridges and chutes, survive
the waters of Penobscot Bay, or scale the face of Mount
Katahdin. One day you're struggling with IDMS and the next
you're hanging by your fingernails while a teammate belays you a
line. Of course the experience isn't cheap. By the time you count
the cost of the school, travel, and lost days, it comes to several
thousand dollars per person. In most companies such an expense
would be unthinkable. But what about the others, the ones who do
invest in Outward Bound and the like? Are they missing something


166 PEOPLEWARE

that is obvious to all the reasonable folks in the world? Or are they
pushing the envelope to bring out the best in their people?

Is a few thousand dollars for a getaway experience too rich for
your discretionary disorder budget? Maybe you could spring for
forty dollars. One of the most innovative managers we know has a
penchant for putting on unexpected lunches for his staff. He once
went down to the city street and hired a hot dog vendor, complete
with cart, sauerkraut, yellow mustard, and a blue and orange
umbrella, to come up thirty floors and serve lunch to the team. The
lunch was a nutritionist's nightmare but a sociologist's dream come
true. Those who were there got high on good spirits and began to
do bits and skits about their work, their managers, and each other.
The noise level went up with their enthusiasm. It cost forty dollars
and has been talked about ever since. Of course, that manager wrote
it up as a business lunch, but it wasn't a lunch at all, it was a celebration.


There can be no question that good sense and order are desirable
components of our work day. There's also a place for adventure,
silliness, and small amounts of constructive disorder.


Chapter 25

FREE ELECTRONS


In our parents' generation, work was usually structured
rigidly within a corporate context You worked for a company, and
you punched a clock or kept regular hours. You received a paycheck,
same this week as last. Those above you in the hierarchy
were treated with respect and deference: "Of course, sir, I'll get
cracking on that right away, sir." It didn't seem like a life's work
you were embarked upon—it seemed more like a job. But things
have changed: ;

One of my college roommates arranged a recent get-
together of members of our graduating class. Of the
twenty people who showed up that night, only one
turned out to have a "job" in the normal sense of that
word. All the others were self-employed or free-lancing
or contracting their services or working in some
other nontraditional mode.

—JDM

The Cottage Industry Phenomenon

It's hardly hot news these days that lots of our peers are working as
cottage industry entrepreneurs. They contract their time by the day
or week for programming or design work or sometimes management.
There are even agencies that specialize in connecting these
independents with organizations that need their talents.

167




Some of the most staid companies and institutions find
themselves doing business with independents. Of course, they
would often prefer to hire their own people rather than deal with
the freelancers. But what can they do? It's a seller's market for
expert services. They end up doing business with dozens of little
organizations with names like William Alonzo & Associates
(there are no associates, just Bill) or the Fat City Smarts
Company. Some of the folks they have to work with are positively
flaky: They want to work when they want to work, perhaps
doing one project and then taking off two or three months to go
skiing. Erghhh! How unprofessional.

If you're a Captain of Industry, the cottage industry phenomenon
can be more than a little upsetting. Not only are the entrepreneurs
inclined to be uppity, they are a terrible example to your
employees. They've got more freedom, more time off, more
choice of work. They're having more fun. They often make more
money.

Fellows, Gurus, and Intrapreneurs

Organizations are under increasing pressure to offer attractive inhouse
alternatives to their best people lest they become part of the
cottage industry phenomenon. One such alternative is a position
with loosely stated responsibilities so that the individual has a
strong say in defining the work. The charter might read,
"Investigate new methods for the twenty-first century," or "Put
together a new and exciting training sequence," or "Design an
ideal work station complex for developers."

In extreme cases, the charter is a blank check; if your
corporation is fortunate enough to have a self-motivated superachiever
on board, it's enough to say "Define your own job." Our
colleague Steve McMenamin characterizes these workers as "free
electrons," since they have a strong role in choosing their own
orbits.

The trend to create an increasing number of free electron
positions is more than just a response to the threat of the cottage
industry. The reason there are so many gurus and Fellows and
intrapreneurs and internal consultants in healthy modern companies
is quite simply that companies profit from them. The people
in these positions contribute disproportionately to the organizations
that employ them. They are motivated to make the positions
created for them pay off for their companies.


FREE ELECTRONS 169


Where I go and what I do are things pretty much defined
by myself. Management recognized that the company
needed someone looking into all the directions we
weren't currently following, hence my unstructured
charter. It puts me into the import business, constantly
on the lookout for new ways the technology
could help us. The position makes me more loyal to the
company, but less loyal to my old profession of information
science—a good idea is welcome wherever it
comes from. I define my success based on the value it
brings the company. It's almost as though the company
were my own. There are lots of people who have
someplace in their closets an intrapreneurial hat.
You've just got to find out who they are and get them to
wear it.

—Michael L. Mushet
Manager of Technology Research
Southern California Edison

I've had a number of different positions in my years
with the company, but only one of them had existed
before I cajne along. I've been able to define my position,
to a large degree, ever since. There is always
someone in an organization that's willing to sponsor
meaningful work in a new area, at least up to a point.
Where it works best, upper management has bought
into a person, rather than into a concept. The person
then defines and sells the concept. Everyone ought to
have some responsibility for broad area goals, and
some freedom to pursue them.

—Richard Branton
Manager, Data Administration Information Services
Southern Company Services, Inc.

It works when people are self-motivated, and when
they let reality dictate their directions to some extent.
I'm constantly being dragged back into reality because
the interests of the company dictate it. A lot of pure
research is dead end. It's important to keep yourself


170 PEOPLEWARE

focused on applied technology, because that can
always be made useful to the organization. The whole
idea of a loose charter can backfire, too, as it has at
Xerox. Some of the best people there got to feel that
the company was never going to use the good ideas
they were coming up with [at PARC], and so they left.

—Bill Bonham
Sage Fellow, MicroSage Computer Systems, Inc.

No Parental Guidance

In Soviet society, particularly among Communist Party members,
there was a pervasive system of life counseling. Virtually every
member was assigned a counselor, someone to meet with on a
weekly basis to help make life decisions, to iron out marriage and
career problems, and to keep the political outlook in line. The
counselor served in loco parentis.

To Westerners, this all seems terribly intrusive. We feel that
the individual needs to be left alone to work out such matters, or
at least free to seek guidance if and when and from whomever he
or she chooses. But much of this fine individualism evaporates in
the workplace. There, we accept the wisdom that virtually everyone
needs a firm direction, handed down from above. Most people
do—they welcome a clear statement from the boss of just
what specific targets are to be met in order to be considered a success.
Most people need a well-defined charter, but managing the
ones who don't is another matter.

The mark of the best manager is an ability to single out the
few key spirits who have the proper mix of perspective and maturity
and then turn them loose. Such a manager knows that he or
she really can't give direction to these natural free electrons.
They have progressed to the point where their own direction is
more unerringly in the best interest of the organization than any
direction that might come down from above. It's time to get out
of their way.


Chapter 26
HOLGAR DANSK


We have put this book together as a series of essays on the
various ways that companies and projects go wrong. If we're on
target, you should have been able to see your own situation reflected
in at least a few of the essays. Each chapter, even the gloomiest,
has had some prescriptive advice, something that you could do to
begin the sensible reconstruction of a project, a division, or a whole
organization. Of course these prescriptions are inadequate, but they
are a start. They encourage you to take on the Furniture Police, to
fight corporate entropy, defeat teamicidal tendencies, put more quality
into the product (even if time doesn't permit), repeal Parkinson's
Law, loosen up formal Methodologies, raise your E-Factor, open
your kimono, and do a host of other things.

It doesn't take great prescience to see that one of these measures
is all you're likely to pull off successfully. If you try more,
you willjustdiffuse yourefforts. Therumpus you11raise will be
more confusing than constructive, and your colleagues and those
above you in the corporate hierarchy are likely to write you off as a
whiner. One change is plenty. Even a single substantive change to
the sociology of your organization will be a mammoth accomplishment.


But Why Me?

Making that single change is a tall order for one person. If you've
got second thoughts about throwing yourself into the fray, it's only

171



172 PEOPLEWARE

natural. Who are you, after all, to confront the kind of power group
that springs up around the new Methodology or around the space
and services being planned for the new office? Are you really
strong enough?

Some years ago, there was a famous toreador who used the
name El Cordobes. He was a charismatic fellow, and both his personal
and professional lives were followed in the world press. In
one interview, a reporter asked El Cordobes what regular exercises
he did to stay fit enough for the ardors of bullfighting.

"Exercises?"

"Yes. You know, jogging or weight lifting to maintain

your physical condition."

"There is something you don't understand, my friend. I

don't wrestle the bull."

The key to success in fostering the kind of change we're advocating
is that you not try to wrestle the bull. You're certainly not strong
enough for that.

A single person acting alone is not likely to effect any meaningful
change. But there's no need to act alone. When something is
terribly out of kilter (like too much noise in the workplace), it takesvery little to raise people's consciousness of it. Then it's no longer
just you. It's everyone.

The Sleeping Giant

Just north of the Danish city of Copenhagen is the castle Kronborg.
For the price of a few kroner, you can visit the castle casements and
see there the reclining form of Holgar Dansk, the legendary sleeping
giant of Denmark. He sleeps quietly while the country is at peace,
but if ever Denmark should be in danger, Holgar will awake and
then his wrath will be terrible to see. Whole classes of Danish
school children tiptoe down to see his fourteen-foot recumbent
form. His shield and sword are there beside him, his armor ready to


HOLGARDANSK 173

go. The children talk in whispers—nobody is too eager to see this
giant in action, but they are happy he is on their side.

There may be a sleeping giant inside your own organization,
ready to awaken when it is in danger. It is in danger if there is too
much entropy, too little common sense. The giant is the body of
your co-workers and subordinates, rational men and women whose
patience is nearly exhausted. Whether they are great organizational
thinkers or not, they know Silly when they see it. And some of the
things that do most harm to the environment and sociology of the
workplace are downright silly.

Waking Up Holgar

It doesn't take much to wake up the giant. If the silliness is gross
enough, people need no more than a gentle catalyst. It may be one
small voice saying, "This is unacceptable." People know it's true.
Once it's been said out loud, they can't ignore it any longer.

That may seem idealistic, but if you do wake up a sleeping
giant in your company, you won't be the first:

 . An entire department of a large government agency has
stuffed its telephone bells with tissues. There is no loud
ringing now—only the gentle purr of the bell (or is it the quiet
voice of Holgar Dansk?).
. A California computer company has had a rash of guerrilla
attacks against the paging system in the programmer area. The
wires keep getting cut. Because the programmers are seated in
what used to be an assembly bay, the ceilings (and the paging
system speakers) are sixteen feet up in the air. Who can even
reach so high? Perhaps it was Holgar Dansk.
. The manager of a large project in Minneapolis has refused to
move his people to the new quarters. ("New" in this case just
meant smaller and noisier.) Administrators were simply
stunned at his refusal; they had never considered the possibility.
Working people are supposed to do as they're told. The
manager had a different theory, that working people are sup



posed to do work. He had assembled enough evidence about
the new environment to convince himself that they couldn't do
that in the new workplace. So the proper function of the manager
was to say no. If he had been all alone in taking this
stand, it would have been easy to overrule him. But he wasn't
alone. He had Holgar Dansk on his side.

 . An Australian company doesn't form teams anymore but
allows individuals to form their own. In that company, you
join voluntarily with two of your colleagues and the company
assigns the team as a unit. It might never have happened but
for a little pressure from Holgar Dansk.
If you've smiled ruefully at any of the characterizations in this
book, it's time now to stop smiling and start taking corrective
action. Sociology matters more than technology or even money.
It's supposed to be productive, satisfying fun to work. If it isn't,
then there's nothing else worth concentrating on. Choose your terrain
carefully, assemble your facts, and speak up. You can make a
difference .,. with a little help from Holgar Dansk.


PART VI


SON OF PEOPLEWARE


For the second edition, we have chosen to add new chapters
at the end rather than attempt a total revision. If the cohesion of
Part VI has suffered—it contains a little of everything—at least
the historical perspective of the original book has been preserved.
The first five parts were written by two youngish middle-aged
consultants who spent most of their time working at the project
level; Part VI is written by two gnarled and grizzled old consultants
who now spend appreciably more of their time working at
organizational levels. The first five parts are—usually—concerned
with the design of development projects and the environments
where they may prosper; Part VI is concerned with the
design of entire organizations that include development work.

175



Chapter 27
TEAMICIDE REVISITED


The seven kinds of teamicide we described in Chapter 20
seemed to us at the time to stretch all the way from the alpha to
the omega of the subject. But there were two important kinds of
teamicide that we missed. Like the original seven, these two
additions are practiced widely in our field. One of them has
become so ubiquitous that a small growth industry has sprung up
to support it....

Those Damn Posters

Pick up the airline magazine or on-board shoppers' catalog on
your next flight and flip through the full-page advertisements.
Somewhere in there you will come upon a colorful selection of
inspirational posters and framed messages for display on corporate
walls (lest someone use up the wall space with work products).
Don't just glance at them, but force yourself to read
through them all, turning over their texts in your mind and savoring
their syrupy prose. If you're not angry by the time you're
done, you may have been serving under lousy managers for much
too much of your career.

Most forms of teamicide do their damage by effectively
demeaning the work, or demeaning the people who do it. Teams
are catalyzed by a common sense that the work is important andthat doing it well is worthwhile. The word well in this last sentence
is essential: The team assigns itself the task of setting and

177



178 PEOPLEWARE

upholding a standard of prideful workmanship. All team members
understand that the quality of the work is important to the
organization, but the team adopts fr still higher standard to distinguish
itself. Without this distinguishing factor, the group is just a
group, never a real team.

Into this complicated mix, now imagine dropping a $150
framed poster to advise people that "Quality Is Job One." Oh.
Gee, we never would have thought that. No sir, we sort of
assumed—until this wonderful poster came along—that Quality
was Job Twenty-Nine, or maybe Eleventy-Seven, or maybe even
lower than that on the corporate value scale, maybe someplace
after reducing ear wax or sorting the trash. But now we know.
Thanks.

These motivational accessories, as they are called (including
slogan coffee mugs, plaques, pins, key chains, and awards),
are a triumph of form over substance. They seem to extol the
importance of Quality, Leadership, Creativity, Teamwork,
Loyalty, and a host of other organizational virtues. But they do so
in such simplistic terms as to send an entirely different message:
Management here believes that these virtues can be improved
with posters rather than by hard work and managerial talent.
Everyone quickly understands that the presence of the posters is a
sure sign of the absence of hard work and talent.

That important matters like these should be the subject of
motivational posters is already an insult. But the implementation
makes it even worse. Consider an example marketed by one
company: It shows a soft-focus image of sweating oarsmen, rowing
in perfect unison through the misty morning. Underneath it
reads, in part:

T.E.A.M.W.O.R.K
. . . The Fuel That Allows Common People To Attain
Uncommon Results

The "common people" they're talking about here are you
and your workmates. Common people. (Don't take it too hard.)
At least they're consistent in attitude: The same company's
Leadership poster tells us that "the speed of the leader determines
the rate of the pack." The pack. Yep, that's you again.

Motivational accessories are phony enough to make most
people's skin crawl. They do harm in healthy organizations. The
only place where they do no harm is where they are ignored—as


TEAMICtDE REVISITED 179

in companies where the harm was done long, long ago and people
have ceased to register any further decline.

Overtime: An Unanticipated Side Effect

You may already have picked up a certain bias in the book's original
chapters against the use of overtime. It has been our experience
that the positive potential of working extra hours is far exaggerated,
and that its negative impact is almost never considered.
That negative impact can be substantial: error, burnout, accelerated
turnover, and compensatory "undertime." In this section, we
examine yet another negative effect of overtime: its teamicidal
repercussions on otherwise healthy work groups.

Imagine a project with a well-jelled team. You and your
colleagues are producing good work at a rate that is frankly astonishing,
even to you and your boss. You all understand this to be
the beneficial effect of team jell, that the whole of your team production
capacity is greater than the sum of your individual productivities.
But it's still not enough. The powers that be have
promised the product for June, and it's just not going to get done
at the current rate.

Sounds like a case for a little overtime, right? You move the
team into high gear, add a few hours to the workweek (still at the
same high production rate), maybe work a few Saturdays. There
is only one problem: One of your teammates—let's call him
Allen—just doesn't have the flexibility that the rest of you enjoy.
He is a widower and thus the primary care-giver for his little boy.
Allen has to show up at the day-care facility at 5:15 each afternoon
to pick the child up. As you might imagine, his Saturdays
and Sundays, the only real quality time with his son, are inviolable.


Hey, that's okay, you think, we'll cover for Allen. We all
understand. And you all do . . . in the beginning.

A few months later, however, the rest of you are starting to
show the strain. All your Saturdays have been gobbled up, as
have most of your Sundays. You've been working sixty-plushour
weeks for longer than you thought possible, and your spouses
and kids are grumbling. Your laundry is piling up, your bills
are unpaid, your vacation plans have been scrapped. Allen,
through all this, is still working a forty-hour week. Finally, somebody
says what you are all thinking: "I'm getting pretty sick of
carrying Allen."




What's happened here? A team that was positively humming
with the good effects ofjell has been pried apart by an overtime
policy that could not be applied uniformly to the team members.
But the members of good teams are never uniform in any
respect, certainly not in their abilities to "borrow" time from their
personal lives. In almost any team of four or five or six people,
there are bound to be a few who can't be expected to put in the
kind of overtime that might fit pretty well into some of the others'
lives. All that can be shrugged off as unimportant if the overtime
is only a matter of a few long evenings and maybe one extra
weekend day. But if the overtime drags on over months and starts
to exact a real toll on even the most willing team members, there
is bound to be damage to team cohesion. The people who aren't
sharing the pain will become, little by little, estranged from the
others. And the team magic will be gone.

Extended overtime is a productivity-reduction technique,
anyway. The extra hours are almost always more than offset by
the negative side effects. This is true even if you don't consider
the disruption of the team. When you take into account the way
that the team members' differing abilities to work overtime tends
to destroy teams, the case against it becomes persuasive.

Most managers have at least a suspicion that overtime doesn't
help, that projects that work a lot of overtime are not much of a
credit to their managers' skills and talents. But they end up allowing
or encouraging overtime, anyway. Why is this? Jerry
Weinberg has an answer of sorts: He suggests that we don't work
overtime so much to get the work done on time as to shield ourselves
from blame when the work inevitably doesn't get done on
tune.


Chapter28
COMPETITION


The issue of competition within a team or work group is a
complicated one, something that managers tend to disagree about.
You've surely heard the line that companies exist to compete with
each other, so by extension, a little competition within the company
is a healthy way to keep the competitive edge. Other managers
conclude that something is wrong when team members feel
they are being pitted against each other. At the extreme, at least,
competition is certain to inhibit team jell. If team members are
told, for example, that only the best one of them will be around
next year, you can be sure that they will not succeed in working
together very well.

Consider an Analogy

Like managers, parents sometimes have to grapple with the issue
of internal competition. They may find that their children tend to
be competitive with each other. They may also try to reassure
themselves that the competitive edge will be useful in the rough
and tumble of later life, so perhaps honing that competitive edge
within the family is okay.

But competition between siblings is not entirely okay. We
know, for example, that highly competitive siblings grow up to be
distanced from each other, while those who are less competitive
as children have at least a chance of building warm sibling friend


181



182 PEOPLEWARE

ships as adults. Chances are that you know of at least one example
of siblings who "don't speak" as adults, or the saddest
extreme, entire families in which no two adjacent siblings have
maintained a relationship into adulthood.

There is now a substantial consensus about the ways that
parents encourage or discourage sibling competition. Competition
is fostered when the children are emotionally undernourished by
the parents, when there just isn't enough time, respect, attention,
and affection to go around.

Conversely, when adult and young adult siblings are super-
supportive of each other, when they obviously care a lot about
each other and take evident pleasure in their friendship, you know
that their parents have done something right.

Is it possible that internal competition in work teams is fostered
by a manager's lack of time, respect, attention, and affection
for his or her people? Though that may be too simplistic, we
believe there is an important kernel of truth to the idea.

Does It Matter? The Importance of Coaching

What is the long-term effect of heightened competition among
people who need to work together? One of the first victims is the
easy, effective peer-coaching that is ubiquitous in healthy teams.

As a manager, you may have convinced yourself that you
ought to be the principal coach to the team or teams that report to
you. That certainly was a common model in the past, when high-
tech bosses tended to be proven experts in the technologies their
workers needed to master. Today, however, the typical team of
knowledge-workers has a mix of skills, only some of which the
boss has mastered. The boss usually coaches only some of the
team members. What of the others? We are increasingly convinced
that the team members themselves provide most of the
coaching.

When you observe a well-knit team in action, you'll see a
basic hygienic act of peer-coaching that is going on all the time.
Team members sit down in pairs to transfer knowledge. When
this happens, there is always one learner and one teacher. Their
roles tend to switch back and forth over time with, perhaps, A
coaching B about TCP/IP and then B coaching A about implementation
of queues. When it works well, the participants are
barely even aware of it. They may not even identify it as coaching;
to them it may just seem like work.


COMPETITION 183

Whether it is named or not, coaching is an important factor
in successful team interaction. It provides coordination as well as
personal growth to the participants. It also feels good. We tend
to look back on significant coaching we've received as a near
religious experience. We feel a huge debt to those who have
coached us in the past, a debt that we cheerfully discharge by
coaching others.

The act of coaching simply cannot take place if people don't
feel safe. In a suitably competitive atmosphere, you would be
crazy to let anyone see you sitting down to be coached; it would
be a clear indication that you knew less than your coach about
some subject matter. You would be similarly crazy to coach
someone else, as that person may eventually use your assistance
to pass you by.

Teamicide Re-revisited

Internal competition has the direct effect of making coaching difficult
or impossible. Since coaching is essential to the workings
of a healthy team, anything the manager does to increase competition
within a team has to be viewed as teamicidal. Here are
some of the managerial actions that tend to produce teamicidal
side effects:

. annual salary or merit reviews
. management by objectives (MBO)
. praise of certain workers for extraordinary accomplishment
. awards, prizes, bonuses tied to performance
. performance measurement in almost any form
But hold on here, aren't these the very things that managers spend
much or even most of their time doing? Sadly, yes. And yet
these actions are likely to be teamicidal.

In his 1982 book Out of the Crisis, W. Edwards Deming set
forth his now widely followed "Fourteen Points." Hidden among
them, almost as an afterthought, is point 12B:

Remove barriers that rob people in management and in
engineering of their right to pride of workmanship. This
means [among other things] abolishment of the annual
or merit rating and of management by objectives.




Even people who think of themselves as Deming-ites have
trouble with this one. They are left gasping, What the hell are we
supposed to do instead?

Deming's point is that MBO and its ilk are managerial cop-
outs. By using simplistic extrinsic motivators to goad performance,
managers excuse themselves from harder matters such as
investment, direct personal motivation, thoughtful team-formation,
staff retention, and ongoing analysis and redesign of work
procedures.

Our point here is somewhat more limited: Any action that
rewards team members differentially is likely to foster competition.
Managers need to take steps to decrease or counteract this
effect.

Mixing Metaphors

We interrupt this message for ...

A STARTLING CONFESSION FROM THE AUTHORS

Throughout this book, we have used and discussed the sports
team as a metaphor for a well-jelled technical work group; we are
now obliged to emphasize here our growing disenchantment with
this metaphor.

Most troubling to us these days is what the sports team
metaphor implies about competition. Football teams and soccer
teams and baseball teams compete within their leagues, but they
also promote a good deal of internal competition. Those players
who "ride the pines," for example, must feel just the littlest bit
competitive toward the first string. Oh sure, they are rooting for
them to win, of course, but perhaps not to look too great in the
process.

In high school, I was the shortest member of our varsity
basketball team. I still remember the guy who had to
foul out before I would be put in. His name was Doug
Timmerman. He was the most damnably gifted player;
he almost never fouled anybody. I loved him like a
brother, but still.. .

—TDM


COMPETITION 185

We have all seen sports teams that succeeded in spite of the
failure of one of the individuals. We have also seen individual
team members have a great night while their team was losing
badly. The success or failure of the individual is thus disconnected
from the success or failure of the group as a whole. This is an
imperfect situation, one that only exacerbates any incipient tendency
toward competition.

By contrast, as an example, a choir or glee club makes an
almost perfect linkage between the success or failure of the individual
and that of the group. (You'll never have people congratulate
you on singing your part perfectly while the choir as a whole
sings off-key.)

So, belatedly, we need to tell you that the musical ensemble
would have been a happier metaphor for what we are trying to do
in well-jelled work groups. We're not the only ones, of course, to
use the term "team" to describe such a group.

Whether you call it a "team" or an "ensemble" or a "harmonious
work group" is not what matters; what matters is helping all
parties understand that the success of the individual is tied irrevocably
to the success of the whole.


Chapter 29

PROCESS IMPROVEMENT
PROGRAMS


Those wonderful folks who brought us Big-M Methodology
back in the 1980s have not been idle. Their latest offering, the
Process Improvement Movement, is newer, bigger, better, glitzier,
and more ambitious . . . but it's also the same old stuff. Your
local Process Improvement Program is Big-M Methodology,
reborn. This time, it takes "one size fits all" to the extreme: not
just one-size-fits-all at your company, but one-size-fits-all worldwide.
Your organization's capability is measured against a fixed
model. The more exactly you match the model, the higher the
score you get. Higher scores are better. The highest score is the
best. If all organizations got the highest score, they would all be
the best, and, coincidentally, they would all be going about their
work exactly the same way, the best way. Best is best, whether
you're building PERL applets at Yahoo or pension accounting
routines at Aetna. Well, that's the theory....

A Short History

Just in case you've spent the last fifteen years on some other planet,
we offer the following chronology of process improvement:

1984: U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) forms Software
Engineering Institute (SEI) at Carnegie Mellon University,

186


PROCESS IMPROVEMENT PROGRAMS 187

and charters it to "establish standards of excellence for
software engineering."
1987: First five-level scheme for assessing "software maturity3'
published by the SEI.

1988: Publication of Watts Humphrey's instrumental paper,
"Characterizing the Software Process: A Maturity
Framework," in IEEE Software, March 1988. First assessments
carried out and publicized. First public awareness
of the Capability Maturity ModelsM (CMM).

1989: Formation of process groups, and first process support
organizations. Publication of Humphrey's Managing the
Software Process.

1990s: Proliferation of CMM in the U.S. DoD community and
eventually beyond. Establishment of CMM target levels
at many if not most large software organizations.

At the heart of the CMM is an ordered set of Key Process
Areas (KPAs), each characterized by skills defined as progressively
more and more essential. Based on proficiency in Key
Process Area skills, the rankings are divided into five levels of
organizational "maturity." Attainment of each level is determined
not just by the number of skills mastered but by the order in
which they are mastered (for example, there is no credit for mastering
Level 4 skills unless the organization has already attained
Level 3).

The Paradox of Process Improvement

Standards are good. Thank heavens for standards, for without
them you wouldn't be able to put a Kodak film cartridge into your
Minolta camera; the plug of your coffeemaker wouldn't fit the
socket on the wall; the signal broadcast by your local radio station
would be incomprehensible to your radio; your new phone would
be incompatible with your telephone service; CDs wouldn't go
into your player; faxes would be garbled; clothing and shoe sizes
would make no sense; new tires wouldn't fit old cars; and the
Internet would only be accessible to the people who invented it.

Such standards are good, but it's worth pointing out that the
great triumph of standards in the modern world is almost entirely
the success of standard interfaces. A standard for a screw thread
or a AA battery or a tape cassette says a lot about the final prod



188 PEOPLEWARE

uct—how it interfaces with its corresponding parts—but nothing
about the process for building that product. It would still be a AA
battery whether you built it underwater or using robots or trained
monkeys, provided that it lived up to its end of the standard interface
bargain (with its size, shape, tolerances, electrical characteristics,
and so on). To extrapolate from the success of interface
standards to the need for process standards is a bit of a stretch.

Still, there is enormous appeal in the identification of an
ideal process. The work of Humphrey, Palk, and others at the SEI
is thoughtful, competent, ambitious, and sincere:

When Tim and I edited the collection called Software
State-of-the-Art: Selected Papers [Dorset House,
1990], we set out to pick the most influential papers of
the 1980s. "Characterizing the Software Process," by
Watts Humphrey, was among the first that we chose.
In an article that I wrote for American Programmer later
that year, I committed myself as to which of the thirty-
one papers was the very best. Without hesitation, I
chose Humphrey's. The impact of Humphrey's work in
the years that followed has, I think, confirmed this
selection.

—TDM

Identifying an ideal practice, or at least a candidate ideal
practice, is a useful endeavor. But the programs that mandate
such a practice are something else entirely.

The paradox of the CMM is that process improvement is
good, but process improvement programs aren't, or at least they
often aren't. Competent people are involved in process improvement
all the time: They take pride in progress and growth, and
these can only come from getting more proficient at what they do.
This kind of low-level process refinement is the basic hygiene of
knowledge work, but formal process improvement moves responsibility
up from the individual to the organization. The individual
may strive for, practice, and/or promote good skills, but the organization
can only institutionalize them. It is in this institutionalization
that the danger lies.

To understand the problem with the institutional approach to
process improvement, you have to take your eye off the projects
that get done while the process level is being lifted, and focus
instead on the ones that aren't getting done.


PROCESS IMPROVEMENT PROGRAMS 189

It'sAbout theBenefit, Stupid

Organizations that build products with the most value to their customers
win. Those that build products that make the world yawn
lose, even though they build them very, very efficiently. Even
those who stumble while building products of high value win
over the efficient yawners. Process isn't worth a rip unless it's
applied to projects that are worth doing.

/ gave a talk to a local professional society about the
conflict of benefit and process. After it was over, a
software manager told me about a project that had finished
earlier that year. They had added several new
transactions to an on-line customer inquiry and order
system. At installation, they put in visit counters to find
out how often the new features were used. After six
months, they downloaded the counters. The manager
knew how much it had cost his company to build the
software, and he divided the visit count into the cost to
arrive at a cost-per-transaction figure for the six
months. The cost-per-transaction was $53,000! The
benefit of each visit was probably measured in pennies.
The great irony was that this was a CMM Level 2 organization,
slated to be assessed for Level 3 within a few
months. Gee, if they had only been a Level 3 organization
before this project started, they could probably
have gotten that cost down to $45,000 per transaction.

_TRL

When process improvement (as in "Level 3 by the end of
the year!") becomes the goal, the scary projects get put onto the
back burner. It's those scary projects, unfortunately, that are
probably the ones worth doing.

All the projects that carry real benefit carry real risks along
with them. It is the project that has some novelty, some innovation
or invention, that might grab the customer's imagination and
wallet. It's even possible your company's most famous disaster
project—the one that came in a year over schedule, at 3.5 times
the cost, had loads of problems getting through system test, and
still needs engineers standing around with code defibrillators just


190 PEOPLEWARE

to keep it running—is still the best project your organization has
done in years.

One of the strongest justifications for the CMM is that it
will raise quality and productivity while decreasing risk:

Level Key Process Key Actions Results


Statistical Evidence of Process Measure/
Effectiveness Software Control Office

Optimising Continuous Process Improvement Focus Measure Process Change Improve
Rigorous Defect Causa) Analysis and Defect Prevention Process
Oafect Prevention

Product! vit

Productivity and Quality are Measured Software Control Office
4 Process Operates within Acceptable Limit: [Meet Management& Quality
Managed Predictable Process and Product Quality Process iteasurement/Analysis


Documented Managerial/Engineering Software Control Office

3 Process Integrated S/W Management
Organisational Software Process Focus biter-group Co-ordination


Defined Project Activities Under Control, Quality Education Program

Tracked


. Disciplined Management Control Prcces.Software Control Office
Project Management Policies/Procedures
Project Estimating/Control
Subcontractor Management

Repeatable . Project Activities Under Control, Duality Tender Evaluation/Control

Tracked

Education Program

Quantify/

Absence of Sound Management Practices Education Program 1 Software Process is Ad Hoc, Unstable Pfocenn nf03stjtemeftt Reduce
Initial Software Development Results are Project Control/Planning RISK
Unpredictable

Figure 29.1. The SEI Capability Maturity Model.

The chart suggests that the same work can be undertaken at
higher levels with lower risk. But there is another interpretation
that strikes us as more likely: Organizations become more and
more averse to risk as they "mature." An organization under the
gun to demonstrate increased CMM level is not going to go looking
for real challenge.

While we're at it, higher proficiency is unlikely to reduce
risk anyway. . . .

A New Indoor/Outdoor World Record

Let's say you work for a medium-size company that builds
shrink-wrapped business software. The officers of the corporation
believe that the CMM does not come from Pittsburgh, but
from God's own lips. They have brought in the SEI to assess the
company's maturity level. The assessment is complete, and you
are all gathered in the corporate auditorium where the SEFs Head


jAt* -f ..

PROCESS IMPROVEMENT PROGRAMS 191

Assessor steps up to the podium to announce the findings. There
is a hush in the hall....

"Ladies and gentlemen, we have some remarkable
news. We have completed our assessment, and determined
your CMM level on the five-level scheme. The
result is that this organization has proved itself to be...
Level 6! That's right, Level 6. We didn't even know
there was a Level 6 until we came here. This is a
remarkable day for all of us. We feel as if we have
found a new element for the periodic table. You are the
finest software development organization now known
to mankind. Thank you. Have a nice day."

Good news, huh? Now, what are you going to do with it?
The more strongly you believe in the meaningfulness of the
assessment, the more inclined you are to take on ever more difficult
work. Raise the bar. You might as well put your people to
work on software that other, lesser organizations couldn't possibly
build. If you are the finest software development organization
now known to mankind, it makes no sense at all to give your people
the same work that any average palooka could do. Much better
to torture your competition by taking on only great challenges.
And if you fail now and again, so what? Sometimes you will succeed,
and then you'll know you have a product worthy of a Level
6 organization. If some run-of-the-mill work has to be done, you
might as well send it off-shore. There are plenty of merely competent
organizations to take on the easy ones.

Raising the bar means that risk will increase. The more proficient
you are, the more risk you take on. You'd be crazy not to.

The more you improve the way you go about your work, the
harder the work will be. This happens for two reasons: First, by
improving our methods, we typically move the more mundane
work either into the machine (for example, software now generates
SQL statements; people used to do that job) or out of the
project entirely (for example, the invention of the spreadsheet
moved a huge pile of work out of the software development group
and into the business lines). The work that remains is more intellectually
dense; it takes greater skill and experience to do it. As
we make real progress in process improvement, we need more talented
and more experienced people to do the work.


192 PEOPLEWARE

The second reason is that improved methods allow you to
take on more difficult challenges. And you will take them on ...
unless you've been turned to the dark side....

Process Improvement: Is It Turning .Us to the Dark Side?

[Note to reader: Read this section aloud in your best Darth Vader
voice.]

"Luke, look into your heart. You know the great

financial gain that can be yours if you can reach Level

4. (Remember, only the Emperor is allowed to be at
Level 5.) Let nothing stand in your way, Luke. Turn
to the Dark Side. . . . Here is our plan: We will undertake
only projects that are clones of past efforts. We
will work on only what we know we are good at. We
will define a process that works beautifully for these
vanilla situations. We will document everything that
moves. When the Pan-Galactic Process Police arrive,
they will be completely seduced by our seamless
implementation of a perfectly managed software
process. You will attain that promised massive bonus
for software process improvement, but then you must
act quickly. Cash that bonus check before your organization
goes right down the tubes." [Evil laugh.]
Organizations everywhere are under pressure to climb the
CMM. In the extreme, they are hell-bent for Current Level+1 by
tomorrow, or else. This is the Dark Side, for it entices the play-itsafe
behavior of low-risk, and therefore low-benefit, projects.

The Great Process Improvement Contradiction

You need as much proficiency as you can possibly build into your
organization. You need that in order to take on ever-more risky
projects. The Key Process Areas, as identified by the SEI, will be
useful to you in building proficiency; they define sets of skills
that ought to be on any good software manager's wish list. Focus
on the KPA skills, but do whatever you can to turn off the institutional
score-keeping.


PROCESS IMPROVEMENT PROGRAMS 193

If you are already a CMM Level 2 or higher organization,
rememberthis:

The projectsmostworthdoing are the ones that will
moveyou DOWN one fulllevel onyour process scale

Maybe those are the only ones you can afford to do.


Chapter 30

MAKING CHANGE POSSIBLE


People hate change . . .
and that's because people hate change. . . .
I want to be sure that you get my point.
People really hate change.
They really, really do.


—Steve McMenamin
The Atlantic Systems Guild
London (1996)

Steve's quote is taken from a presentation to an audience of
IT managers who were more than a little troubled by his view. At
first, they were pretty comfortable with rejecting it: "Hey, we
build systems that change how people work and play. We try
hard to make sure that the changes will be for the better. We
explain how the new way will be better; sometimes, we even use
precise geometric logic. Why would any rational person resist
any change for the better?" To the protesters, Steve retorted,
"You don't get it. I'm sorry, but people really, truly hate change.
That's the problem: They're not rejecting a particular change on
its merits; they're rejecting any change. And that's because people
hate change." The examples he offered were devastating.
Little by little the message got through, and the crisis counselors
had to be called in.

We need to talk about change because it is our business.
More than being just system builders, we are change agents.

194



" "" . MAKING CHANGE POSSIBLE 195

Every time we deliver a new system, we ar& forcing people to
change the way they do their work; we might be redefining their
jobs entirely. We are demanding that they change, and while
we're at it, our own organizations are demanding that we change,
too. The emerging technologies and the building cycle-time pressures
are forcing us to change how we build our products.

And Now, a Few Words from Another Famous
Consultant

And it should be considered that nothing is more difficult
to handle, more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous
to manage, than to put oneself at the head of
introducing new orders. For the introducer has all
those who benefit from the old orders as enemies, and
he has lukewarm defenders in all those who might benefit
from the new orders.

—Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince (1513)

We tend to think of Machiavelli as a cynic, but he almost
certainly fancied himself a realist. He didn't set out to cast
mankind in the most unflattering light, only to state the bald truth
as he saw it. He wrote The Prince as a primer for the young
Lorenzo de' Medici, who was ascending to govern the city-state
of Florence. (The de' Medici family built an enclosed elevated
walkway over the Arno, connecting their castle with the government
building, to minimize the chances for assassination. Look
for the walkway when you visit Florence; it's still there.) The
book's purpose was to acquaint the young prince with reality,
however pleasant or un-.

"For the introducer has all those who benefit from the old
orders as enemies, and he has lukewarm defenders in all those who
might benefit from the new orders." Notice the equation is unbalanced
against change. While you risk making enemies of those
who have mastered the old ways—you are forcing them back to
the uncomfortable position of novice—you receive only minor
support from those who would gain. Why is that? Why are those
who stand most to gain from the change still half-hearted in their
support? That's because people hate change. When we start out
to change, it is never certain that we will succeed. And the uncertainty
is more compelling than the potential for gain.


196 PEOPLEWARE

In 1991, 1992, and 1993, I was the Chair of the
National Software Methods Conference, held each
spring in Florida. The first year, I made some opening
remarks and handed out a questionnaire for all the participants
to complete. I asked all sorts of questions
about what methods and tools they used to build software.
One question I asked was, "What method or tool
has been seriously introduced in your organization but
has failed to become common practice?" I collected
the responses, to report the results back to the attendees
by the close of the conference. I started making
a list of failed methods and tools, but stopped when I
noticed something much simpler and clearer:
Everything had failed, at least somewhere. The real
irony is that when I did report back, I took the list of
failures and asked if anybody was using those methods
or tools regularly. I got a positive response on every
single one. Everything works, and everything fails.
What is going on here?

—TRL

That's a Swell Idea, Boss. Pll Get Right On It.

Whenever you attempt to instigate a change, you can expect a
variety of responses. Jerry Johnson, of the Menninger Business
Institute, has proposed that there is a pattern to this variety, something
he calls the "Resistance-to-Change Continuum." It looks
like this:

1. Blindly Loyal (Ask no questions)
2. Believers but Questioners
a. Skeptics ("Show me.") increasing
b. Passive Observers ("What's in it for me?") resistance
c. Opposed (Fear of Change)
d. Opposed (Fear of Loss of Power)
3. Militantly Opposed (Will Undermine and Destroy)
Figure 30.1. Resistance-to-Change Continuum.

Everyone falls someplace on the continuum in the way he or she
will respond to a change.


MAKING CHANGE POSSIBLE 197

Looking at the continuum, ask yourself, Who of these are
my potential enemies, and who are my possible supporters?
Clearly, the Militantly Opposed are dangerous; they will seek to
return to the old status quo at any cost. You might conclude that
the Blindly Loyal are good guys and the others are whiners, that
the Blindly Loyal are allies and the other groups are enemies.

Jerry pointed out that this view is all wrong. For example,
we need to be aware of the danger posed by the Blindly Loyal.
They are probably fairly powerless, and they will jump onto
whatever appears hot. They follow le fad du jour: "We gotta
stop the accounting package installation right now because we
can do it better ourselves with an Intranet-based system using
Java Decaf. Wait. Hold the Decaf. I just saw an ad on the
Computing This Nanosecond website for Double-Java latte with
foamy applets." They will withdraw their support as quickly as
they give it in order to hop on some new bandwagon.

Johnson asserts that the Believers but Questioners are the
only meaningful potential allies of any change. The two
extremes, Blindly Loyal and Militantly Opposed, are the real enemies.
The success of your change will depend on how you manage
the Believers but Questioners. Don't count on logic, by the
way, as your trump card: These on-the-fence, maybe-baby allies
are never going to be swayed solely by a rational discussion of
why the proposed new way will be so much better than the current
situation. Here is something to repeat to yourself whenever
you set out to ask people to change:

MANTRA: The fundamental response to change is not
logical, but emotional.

As systems developers, we have selected ourselves into the
world of cool, calming, rational thought. Either our code compiles,
or it doesn't. The compiler is never happy for us, nor mad
at us. Perhaps this is why we tend to apply logic as our main
device for resolving disputes.

You may catch yourself patiently explaining to your kid: "I
know you want a bike, but it is neither your birthday nor is it
Christmas, the cultural dates upon which gifts may reasonably be
expected. If you have accumulated sufficient allowance, you may
proceed with the purchase yourself." And you may be frustrated
by a not-very-logical response like, "But I want a bike! I want it
right now."




When we argue logically for change, one tactic is to contrast
how the new world will be (good) compared to the current situation
(bad). But think: Who helped implement the current situation?
Who are the masters of the ways that we currently work?
Could these people possibly take offense at any diminution of the
current mode? Damn right they could. William Bridges, in
Managing Transitions, suggests that we never demean our old
ways. Instead, we need to celebrate the old as a way to help
change happen. For example,

"Folks, the CGS Close-in Guidance System has been
running for 14 years. We estimate that it has perfectly
handled over 1,000,000 take-offs and landings. The
hardware platform has become technically obsolete,
and there is some new remote sensing technology that
we can take advantage of. Now we have the chance to
redesign and rebuild the entire system. We need you
and your expertise gained over these years of successful
CGS experience to help us succeed in this effort."

In general, it may help to remind people that any improvement
involves change:

You never improve if you can't change at all.

—Tom DeMarco(1997)

A Better Model of Change

Here is the way most of us tend to think about change:


NEW
A Better Way

STATUS
QUO

Figure 30.2. Naive model of how change happens.

In this (naive) view, an idea, a simple vision of "a better way" to
do things, effects a direct change from the old to the new. "We
were perking along in the old mode when Harvey had a sudden


MAKING CHANGE POSSIBLE 199

inspiration, and we switched over to a new and altogether superior
way of doing business." Honestly, it can't be that simple. It isn't.
Contrast that naive model of change with the way an expert
in family therapy, the late Virginia Satir, looked at change:

PRACTICE
&
INTEGRATION
Foreign Transforming
Element Idea


Figure 30.3. Satir Change Model.

Change involves at least these four stages, never fewer. There is
no chance of effecting meaningful change without going through
the two intermediate stages.

According to Satir's model, change happens upon the introduction
of a foreign element: a catalyst for change. Without a
catalyst, there is no recognition of the desirability of change. The
foreign element can be an outside force or it can be the recognition
that your world has somehow changed.

Outside force: Watts Humphrey walks into your office

and announces that you are a Level 0 shop. Hmmmm.

or

The world changes: The quarterly sales of your flag


ship product drop for the very first time in its history.

Owww.

When you try to institute change, the first thing you hit is
Chaos. You've been there before. It's when you are convinced
that you are worse off than before with this new tool, new procedure,
or new technique. People are saying things like, "If we just
jettison this new stuff, maybe we'll get back on schedule. . . ."
You are suffering from the dip in the learning curve, and the
assessment that the change is the problem may well be right, at
least for the moment. You are worse off, for now. This is part of


200 PEOPLEWARE

the reason why response to change is so emotional. It is frustrating
and embarrassing to abandon approaches and methods you
have long since mastered, only to become a novice again.
Nobody enjoys that sense of floundering; you just know you
would be better off with the old way. Unfortunately, this passage
through Chaos is absolutely necessary, and it can't be shortcut.

The transforming idea is something that people in Chaos
can grab onto as offering hope that the end of the suffering is
near. A structured huddle is sometimes the best medicine: "I
think that we're getting the hang of C++ coding, but how about a
daily meeting at four o'clock for all of us to go over our class definitions
together?"

The Practice & Integration phase occurs on the upswing of
the learning curve. You are not yet completely comfortable, as
you are not yet proficient at the new, but you perceive that the
new is now beginning to pay off or at least to show promise.

You have reached the New Status Quo when what you
changed to becomes what you do. An interesting characteristic of
human emotion is that the more painful the Chaos, the greater the
perceived value of the New Status Quo—if you can get there.

The reason the Satir model is so important is that it alerts us
that Chaos is an integral part of change. With the more naive
two-stage model, we don't expect chaos. When it occurs, we
mistake it for the new status quo. And since the new status quo
seems so chaotic, we think, "Whoops, looks like we blew it; let's
change back." The change-back message is bound to be heard
loud and clear in the middle of any ambitious change. When
you're looking for it, your chances of dealing sensibly with it are
much improved.

Safety First

Change won't even get started unless people feel safe—and people
feel safe when they know they will not be demeaned or
degraded for proposing a change, or trying to get through one.
Temporary loss of mastery is embarrassing enough for most of us;
catching any kind of gratuitous flack for floundering in Chaos
guarantees that everyone will flee back to the security of the Old
Status Quo.

Our natural fear of Chaos may help to explain why learning
something as a child appears so much easier than learning the
same thing as an adult.


MAKING CHANGE POSSIBLE 201

Watching and listening to adults and children on their
first ski trips, we get the distinct impression that adults
are not so much concerned with injuring themselves as
they are with making fools of themselves. Kids almost
never have that thought. They may actually choose to
fall down in the snow, to roll in it, to throw it, to eat it.
(Our natural adult response to snow is to shovel it so
we won't slip.) On the slopes, adults don't want to fall
where they can be seen by those in the chairlift. The
anticipated humiliation is enough to keep them in the
lodge. But give a healthy kid a lesson or two with a ski
instructor, and it's "Look at me, I'm Picabo Street!"

—Tim and Tom, Amateur Behaviorists (1998)

How many times have you heard that some new technique is
going to be used because it is the only chance to make the hard-
and-fast deadline, and that if the deadline is missed, there will be
hell to pay? The setup of the change has already made its outcome
more than a little dubious. The kid-like willingness to
throw ourselves into a potentially embarrassing endeavor is
defeated by the potential for ridicule.

Paradoxically, change only has a chance of succeeding if
failure—at least a little bit of failure—is also okay.


Chapter 31
HUMAN CAPITAL


Somewhere not too far from you as you read these words,
there is probably a heating or air-conditioning unit in operation.
Electricity and possibly some combustible fuel are working to
alter the local atmosphere to keep you comfortable. These things
cost money. You, or your company, pay the bill each month,
annotating the charge as Utilities, or some such. Let's say that the
bill for the month of March is $100, that it's paid by the company,
and that the company has no other financial transaction all month:
no income, no salaries, no nothing. Just one utility bill. At the
end of the month, the organization's profit-and-loss statement
looks like this:

Whatever Corp.

March 1998

OrdinaryIncome/
Expense
UtilitiesTotal ExpenseExpense
>
Mar'98
100.00 <
100.00
Net Ordinary Income -100.00
Net Income -100.00


Figure 31.1. P&L for the first month.

202


HUMAN CAPITAL 203

The statement shows a loss for the month, since expenses exceeded
income.

The next month is also a bit slow. Again, the company has
no income and no salaries. But now the weather has warmed up,
producing a month of perfect April days in which you left the
windows open and never turned on the heat. So, there is no utility
bill to pay. You do, however, cut one check: You buy a tiny
palm-top computer for $100. When you write the check, you
enter it as "Computing Equipment," since that is the most obvious
of the expenditure categories suggested by your accounting package.
At the end of this month, your P&L looks like this:


Figure 31.2. P&L for the second month.

Last month, your single $100 check netted against no
income resulted in a loss. This month, the single check for $100
netted against no income produced a break-even. Why the difference?
The difference can only be attributed to the different categories
you chose for the expenditures. In March, an expenditure
for Utilities was treated as an expense; in April, an expenditure
for Computing Equipment received an entirely different treatment.
Your accounting package understood that Computing
Equipment is just another kind of asset, like money in a different
bank account. So, it treated the check like a transfer from one
bank account to another. It had no effect on profit and loss.

An expense is money that gets used up. At the end of the
month, the money is gone and so is the heat (or whatever the
expense was for). An investment, on the other hand, is use of an
asset to purchase another asset. The value has not been used up,
but only converted from one form to another. When you treat an
expenditure as an investment instead of as an expense, you are
said to be capitalizing the expenditure.


204 PEOPLEWARE

How AboutPeople?

What about money that the company spends on people? The general
accounting convention is that all salaries are treated as
expense, never as capital investment. Sometimes this makes
sense, but sometimes it doesn't. When a worker is building a
product that gets sold, it hardly matters: Whether you expense his
labor or capitalize it, the amount of money paid to the worker
eventually gets deducted from the sales price of the product, in
order to calculate profit. You can hardly be faulted for expensing
his labor the same way you expense the heat that kept the factory
warm; both the labor and the heat are gone at the end of the
month.

But now suppose you send that same worker off to a training
seminar for a week. His salary and the seminar fee have been
spent on something that is not "gone" at the end of the month.
Whatever he has learned persists in his head through the coming
months. If you've spent your training money wisely, it is an
investment, perhaps a very good one. But, by accounting convention,
we expense it anyway.

So Who Cares?

What matters is not so much how the bean counters must report
these things to the IRS or to the stockholders, but how managers
think about the amount their company has invested in its people.
This human capital can be substantial; thinking about it erroneously
as sunk expense may lead managers toward actions that
fail to preserve the value of the organization's investment.

Of course, "actions that fail to preserve an organization's
investment" are a staple of imperfect management. Companies
go through periods in which middle and upper managers vie to
out-do each other in thinking up ways to improve near-term performance
(quarterly earnings) by sacrificing the longer term.
This is usually called "bottom-line consciousness," but we prefer
to give it another name: "eating the seed corn."

Assessing the Investment in Human Capital

How much does your company have invested in you and your colleagues?
An easy way to get a handle on this amount is to consider
what happens when one of you leaves: Suppose, for example,


HUMAN CAPITAL 205

that Louise, your database expert, announces she will depart at the
end of the month. Prior to this, you had been feeling pretty good
about prospects that your five-person team would be able to deliver
a new version of your company's sales capture system by next
summer. The tasks had been moving along smoothly, and the
team was well-knit and highly effective. At least it was before
Louise dropped her bombshell. Now, who knows? What a disaster.
You get Personnel on the phone and give the bad news.
"Louise is leaving on the thirty-first," you report. Then you ask,
hopefully, "Can you get me another Louise?"

Unfortunately, Personnel is fresh out of experts with
Louise's grasp of the requirements, the technology, the domain,
and the people involved. "How about a Ralph?" your contact
suggests. You have never heard of Ralph, nor has anyone else on
the team, but he seems to be the only game in town, so you agree.
The deal is done. Louise leaves on the thirty-first, and Ralph
moves in the next day.

In one sense, the project has experienced no disruption at
all. You had five people on the thirty-first, and you've got five
people again on the first. If Ralph earns about the same as
Louise, the company is dutifully buying people-time for you at
the same rate as last month, and the team will be supplied with
precisely five person-months this month, exactly as it would have
been if Louise had stayed on. If the project was on-schedule last
month, it should still be on-schedule now. So what are you bellyaching
about?

Well, let's look at how Ralph spends his first day with the
company. There was a certain amount of database work remaining
that Louise left on her plate when she departed; how much
does Ralph chip away of that remaining work on Day One? Of
course, the answer is Nothing. He doesn't do squat. He spends
the whole day filling out forms for his health insurance, learning
how to order-in lunch, getting his supplies, configuring his workstation,
and having his PC connected to the network. His net production
is zero. Whoops, it may even be less than zero. If he
uses up any of the other people's time—and you know he is going
to, just to get his basic questions answered—then his net contribution
to team production for the day will be negative.

Okay, that's Day One; how about Day Two? Day Two is a
little better. He is now fully involved, reading the notes that
Louise left for him. This is work that Louise wouldn't have had
to do herself had she stayed on, since she knew all that stuff cold.


206 PEOPLEWARE

(She wouldn't have had to write the notes either if she hadn't
been about to leave.) Ralph's production rate is still far lower
than Louise's would have been. He may still have a negative
effect, since he is still likely to need help from the rest of the
team, using up time that team members would have applied to the
work had they not had Ralph to support.

Eventually, your new teammate is completely up to speed,
producing at more or less the same rate that Louise did. Real productivity
of the database worker position over time looks something
like this:


Figure 31.3. Lost production due to change of personnel.

Productivity took a hit when Louise left, even passing below
zero for a while as others scurried to make up for the loss of a
well-integrated team member. Then, eventually, it worked its
way up to where it was before.

The shaded area on the graph represents the lost production
(work that didn't get done) caused by Louise's departure. Or,
viewed differently, it is the investment that the company is now
making to get Ralph up where Louise was after the company's
past investments in her skills and capabilities.

We could put a dollar figure on the shaded area based on
how much the organization had to pay for time that wasn't productive.
If it takes Ralph six months to get up to speed and his
progress is essentially linear, then the investment is approximately
half the total time—that is, three person-months of effort. The
dollar figure for this investment is whatever the company pays
Ralph for salary and overhead during three months.


HUMAN CAPITAL 207

What Is the Ramp-up Time for an Experienced Worker?

Six months to progress from being a slightly negative producer to
performing at the rate of your predecessor? This might be a reasonable
provision for a new applications programmer, but it probably
wouldn't be nearly enough for anyone joining a team that
does even slightly more sophisticated work. When we oblige our
clients to put a figure on ramp-up time for new workers, most
have to allow far longer than six months. One of our clients, a
builder of network protocol analyzers and packet sniffers, estimates
that it takes more than two years to bring a new worker up
to speed. They only hire people who have a firm grasp of the
underlying technology, so the two years is the added time to learn
the specific domain and to fit into the team. The net capital
investment in each new worker is therefore something in excess
of $150,000.

Now suppose there is another round of lean-and-mean
downsizing, and the company has to consider laying off such a
person. Yes, the ongoing expense of the worker's salary and
overhead would be saved, but the $150,000 investment would be
lost. If the company takes account of this fact, it might see that it
can't possibly iafford to lay off such a valuable resource.

Playing Up to Wall Street

Through years of layoffs, cutbacks, downsizings, right-sizings,
and retractions, Wall Street has applauded each and every cut as
though such retreat were the object of the exercise. It's worth
pointing out that it isn't:

The object of the exercise is upsizing, not downsizing.

Companies that downsize are frankly admitting that their upper
management has blown it.

But Wall Street still applauds. Why is that? Part of the reason
is that it looks so good on the books. A few thousand
employees gone, and every penny they would have earned goes
right to the bottom line, or at least it seems to. What's conveniently
forgotten in this analysis is the investment in those people—
paid for with real, hard-earned dollars and now thrown out
the window as if it had no value.


208 PEGPLEWARE


There is probably no hope of changing the view that Wall
Street takes of treating investment in people as an expense. But
companies that play this game will suffer in the long run. The
converse is also true: Companies that manage their investment
sensibly will prosper in the long run. Companies of knowledge-
workers have to realize that it is their investment in human capital
that matters most. The good ones already do.


Chapter 32


ORGANIZATIONAL LEARNING


Some organizations can learn and some can't. Some can
learn a lesson in the abstract but can't change themselves to take
advantage of what they have learned. Some can learn, but the
pace of their learning is offset by the pace of their unlearning.
We all understand that the difference between being among the
learning washed, as opposed to among the learning unwashed, is
a matter of vital importance, because non-learners cannot expect
to prosper for very long without learning, a critical improvement
mechanism.

Experience and Learning

The first thing to realize about organizational learning is that it is
not the same as simple accumulation of experience. By the
1930s, for example, the French army had accumulated hundreds
of years of experience in guarding the eastern borders, but it still
proposed the Maginot Line as a way to hold back the Germans.
That decision and the events of May 1940 proved to the world
that the French had not learned a key lesson about the shifting
balance between armor and mobility.

Similarly, high-tech organizations may accumulate experience
at an astonishing rate^ but there is no guarantee that their
learning will keep track:

209


210 PEOPLEWARE

One of my clients has a long history of software development,
now going back more than 30 years. Through
much of this period, they have kept a thousand or more
software developers at work. So they can brag, without
exaggeration, that they have more than 30,000 person-
years of software experience. I was greatly impressed:
Imagine all that learning being brought to bear on each
new project. So I asked a group of them, When you
send a new manager off to run a new software project,
what words of wisdom do you whisper in his or her
ear? They thought for just a moment and then gave
their answer, almost in unison: "Good luck."

—TRL

Experience gets turned into learning when an organization
alters itself to take account of what experience has shown. This
alteration takes two forms, which are different enough to talk
about separately:

. The organization instills new skills and approaches in its
people.
or

. The organization redesigns itself to operate in some different
manner.
In the first case, the change is the direct result of added human
capital (see Chapter 31 for more on this). If the retrained people
leave, the investment is lost and the learning is gone. In the second
case, the change is temporarily in the heads of individuals
who implement the redesign. Eventually, it becomes part of the
bone-knowledge of the organization, but in the interim it resides
only in the participants' minds. In this case, loss of key people
during the transition can jeopardize the learning.

In either case, the self-transforming organization has to face
up to the following irreducible risk:

Learning is limited by an organization's ability to
keep its people.


ORGANIZATIONAL LEARNING 211

When turnover is high, learning is unlikely to stick or can't take
place at all. In such an organization, attempts to change skills or
to introduce redesigned procedures are an exercise in futility.
They may even act perversely to accelerate the rate of employee
turnover.

Redesign Example

Some of the most compelling stories of organizational learning
involve redesign of the supplier chain. This requires a confident
hand at the helm and a willingness to think outside of organizational
boundaries. Consider the following example, elaborating
on a suggestion first made by Nicholas Negroponte:

A company like Amazon.com has an integral (and
potentially exploitable) link to whatever corporate partner
it chooses for delivery of its products to the end
consumer. In its current form, the company may have
Federal Express pick up books from its warehouse in
Seattle, for example, and fly them to Memphis (the
FedEx hub city) and then to the airport nearest to the
consumer Now suppose that Amazon were to relocate
its warehouse to the field beside the FedEx Memphis
airstrip. The sale of each book would still be processed
at Amazon's headquarters, but now the pick list and
shipping information would be transmitted digitally to
Memphis, where the orders would be assembled.
Advantage to Amazon: reduction by half of the shipping
distance for each order. It presumably could now negotiate
a more favorable rate from Federal Express to
reduce the shipping cost further.

Organizations that can make this kind of change can do it
again and again. You might wonder what it is that allows them to
be so agile.

The Key Question About Organizational Learning

The key question about organizational learning is not how it is
done but where. When an organization changes itself as much as
the Amazon.com example suggests, there has to be a small but
active learning center that conceives of, designs, and directs the


212 PEOPLEWARE

change. (This kind of ambitious change can't be invented by a
committee or by the organization as a whole.) The locus of early
change activity—the learning—has to be located somewhere on
the organization chart. Where?

It's tempting to say that it happens at the top. But tops of
organizations, in our experience, are not so much focused on day-
to-day operations. Presidents of large- to medium-size companies,
for example, may spend most of their time making acquisitions
(or fighting them off).

There is a nice, egalitarian ring to the notion that the learning
center might be at the bottom. But don't count on this happening
in the real world. People at the bottom are typically too
constrained by the organizational boundaries, and might be blind
to important possibilities. In any event, they rarely have the
power to effect change.

If the key learning doesn't happen at the top and it doesn't
happen at the bottom, then it has to occur somewhere in the middle.
That means the most natural learning center for most organizations
is at the level of that much-maligned institution, middle
management. This squares exactly with our own observation that
successful learning organizations are always characterized by
strong middle management.

It's worth pointing out that downsizings, when they happen,
are almost always targeted at middle management. In other
words, the proverbial "tightening ship" activity that has its vogue
every few years is often at the expense of organizational learning.
After such an exercise, an organization's learning center may be
destroyed.

The Management Team

Flattening the org chart by gutting middle management is a sure
recipe for decreased learning. But the converse is not necessarily
true: Holding on to middle management doesn't, by itself, make
learning more likely to prosper. There is another ingredient
required for that, one that is seldom evaluated properly and
almost never cultivated. In order for a vital learning center to
form, middle managers must communicate with each other and
learn to work together in effective harmony. This is an extremely
rare phenomenon.

Almost all companies have something they call The
Management Team, typically made up of middle-management


ORGANIZATIONAL LEARNING 213

peers. As we observed earlier, applying the word team to a group
doesn't assure that it will have any of the characteristics of a
team. It may still be a poorly knit collection of individuals who
have no common goals, common values, or blended skills. This
is usually the case with most so-called management teams.

A good helping of the teamicidal effects we noted in
Chapters 20 and 27 is at work on "teams" of managers: Group
members are made defensive, burdened by bureaucracy, assigned
fragmented tasks, physically separated, pressured to work overtime,
and goaded into competition with each other. With all that
going against them, they are unlikely to merge into a meaningful
whole.

To make matters worse, they don't have the one thing that
any team needs in order to jell: common ownership of the work
product. Anything that gets accomplished in such a group is likely
to be the accomplishment of one of its members, not the group
as a whole. The more competitive the managers are, the more
pronounced this effect. We have even encountered extreme cases
in which the rule was: "If something looks good, grab it; if you
can't grab it, kill it."

The Management Team is, most often, a sad misnomer, a
mockery of the kind of behavior and attitude that characterizes a
healthy team. The members sit together regularly at status meetings,
taking turns talking to the upper manager. But they have little
to do with each other.

Danger le the White Space

The most likely learning center for any sizable organization is the
white space that lies between and among middle managers. If
this white space becomes a vital channel of communication, if
middle managers can act together as the redesigners of the organization,
sharing a common stake in the result, then the benefits of
learning are likely to be realized. If, on the other hand, the white
space is empty of communication and common purpose, learning
comes to a standstill. Organizations in which middle managers
are isolated, embattled, and fearful are nonstarters in this respect.





Figure 32.1. Learning happens in the white space.

Middle managers are isolated, embattled, and fearful—does
that sound familiar? It is, unfortunately, the case in most knowledge-
based organizations today. Instead of being inclined to join
forces with their peers, many middle managers report being afraid
of them. This is what our colleague Suzanne Robertson calls
"danger in the white space." This destructive tension is the death
knell for organizational learning.


The ultimate management sin is wasting people's time. It
sounds like this should be an easy sin to avoid, but it isn't. You
have some needs of your own as a manager, and these needs may
run squarely against your intention to preserve and use wisely the
time of the people working under you.

For Instance

You call a meeting with your staff but arrive late yourself (you
had to take an urgent call from your own boss), leaving the others
to cool their heels. You let yourself be called out of the meeting
for a quick but important chat with the client, and the meeting
loses focus without you. Or, maybe the meeting itself is a waste
of everyone's time (except possibly your own). In our consulting
work, we often find ourselves sitting in on meetings that, to all
outward appearances, look like they are intended to accomplish
some work purpose, but which may really be intended for something
else entirely:

The meeting started out with a few minutes of easy
banter, a lighthearted comment addressed to each one
of those present by Ambrose, the boss. Each recipient
rose to the bait and offered an equally lighthearted
riposte, all in good fun. Then there was a sharp change

215


216 PEOPLEWARE

of mood as Ambrose took control. Issues were set out
on the table and addressed, briefly and very efficiently.
Each issue was discussed with one of the participants.
There was a short dialogue between Ambrose and that
person, a transfer of status information so that Ambrose
would know exactly what progress had been made that
week. During the meeting, the time was about equally
focused on each of the participants, each interacting
separately with the boss while the others listened in,
silently. During Elaine's moment in the sun, I could see
that Roger was distracted, obviously planning what he
would say when Ambrose turned to him. At the end of
the meeting, Ambrose established action items, more
or less one per person. What could possibly be wrong
with this oh-so-familiar picture? What's wrong to my
mind is that this is not a meeting at all; it's a ceremony.

—TDM

When you convoke a meeting with n people present, the
normal presumption is that all those in the room are there because
they need to interact with each other in order to come to certain
conclusions. When, instead, the participants take turns interacting
with one key figure, the expected rationale for assembling the
whole group is missing; the boss might just as well have interacted
separately with each of the subordinates without obliging the
others to listen in.

We said at the beginning that it was your need—the boss's
need—that was being served, perhaps at the expense of some of
the subordinates' time. But isn't this okay? Isn't this what bosses
have to do in order to keep control? Isn't this a legitimate cost of
managing and coordinating complex efforts? Yes and no. The
meeting wasn't really necessary to convey status; there are many
less wasteful ways to do that. The need that was being served
was not the boss's need for information, but for reassurance. The
ceremony supplies reassurance. It establishes for everyone that
the boss is boss, that he or she gets to run the meeting, that attendance
is expected, that the hierarchy is being respected.

Status Meetings Are About Status

A real working meeting is called when there is a real reason for
all the people invited to think through some matter together. The


THE ULTIMATE MANAGEMENT SIN IS... 217

purpose of the meeting is to reach consensus. Such a meeting is,
almos_t by definition, an ad hoc affair. Ad hoc implies that the
meeting is unlikely to be regularly scheduled. Any regular get-
together is therefore somewhat suspect as likely to have a ceremonial
purpose rather than a focused goal of consensus. The
weekly status meeting is an obvious example. Though its goal
may seem to be status reporting, its real intent is status confirming.
And it's not the status of the work, but the status of the boss.

Organizations have need of ceremony. It's perfectly reasonable
to call a meeting with a purpose that is strictly ceremonial,
particularly at project milestones, when new people come on
board, or for celebrating good work by the group. Such meetings
do not waste anyone's time. They fulfill real needs for appreciation.
They confirm group membership—its importance and its
value. Ceremonial meetings that only celebrate the bossness of
the boss, however, are a waste.

When bosses are particularly needy, the burden of ceremonial
status meetings can grow almost without bound. We know of
one organization, for example, where daily two-hour status meetings
are the norm. When participants are off-site during a meeting,
they are expected to call in and participate by speakerphone
for the whole duration. Nonattendance is regarded as a threat and
is subject to serious penalties.

Early Overstaffing

Meetings are not the only way that people's time gets wasted.
When staff is brought on too quickly at the beginning of a project,
there is almost always a waste of people's time. Again, you
might think this is an easy sin to avoid: Just figure out how
quickly the work can absorb new people, then bring them on,
only at that rate. Although this makes perfectly good sense, it is
often politically infeasible.

Projects begin with planning and design, activities that are
best carried out by a smallish team. When design is important (as
it is for anything but a simple formula project), it can require as
much as half the full project duration. This suggests an ideal
staffing plan that resembles the following:





Figure 33.1. Looks odd, but may be the ideal.

For a two-year project, the bulk of the staff would not come onboard
until the project is six months to a year under way. But so
what? The staffing plan looks a little unusual, but if that's what's
called for, why not staff it just that way?

The problem makes itself apparent when the project is under
a time constraint—and what project isn't? If the client and upper
management have decreed, for example, that only a year is
allowed for the work, then that limit will truncate the expected
end of the project:


-

Figure 33.2. Hurried-up project (aborted staffing).

There is a natural inclination to take the effort lopped off the end
and apply it back at the beginning. Voila, a project with this
familiar pattern of early overstafflng:


THE ULTIMATE MANAGEMENT SIN IS . . . 219



Figure 33.3. Early overstating to accommodlate a deadline.

Of course, if you knew the early added effort would just be wasted,
you wouldn't do that, would you? Well, perhaps you would.
You may conclude that your chances of finishing on such an
aggressive schedule, no matter how you staff the project, are virtually
nil. And if you're going to finish late anyway, you'd better
consider now whether it will look better or worse for you not to
have added the extra staff that upper management is willing to
furnish early in the project. Even if that early staff allocation
turns out to be wasted, your political situation may be safer with
all those people on-board early than if you were to proceed leanly
staffed through the first six months. Such early understaffing—as
it's sure to be viewed by disappointed upper management—may
make you look like a Little Leaguer.

How common is it that projects are overstaffed early for
such political reasons? Oh, not very. Probably no more than
ninety percent of all projects suffer from early overstaffing.

It is a sad comment on the prevailing culture in development
organizations that, in spite of all the talk about "lean and mean,"
it is politically unsafe for a manager to run a project leanly staffed
through the key analysis and design activities.

Fragmentation Again

When people's time is wasted in unnecessary meetings or by early
overstaffing, they'll know it. They'll be frustrated and they'll
know why. If there is enough of such waste, they'll probably let
you know about it, too. So these problems, though serious, are at
least not invisible. There is, however, one way that people's time


220 PEOPLEWARE

gets wasted that is likely to go unnoticed, and thus uncorrected.
This has to do with the time fragmentation we first mentioned in
our discussion of teamicide in Chapter 20. The point there was
that fragmenting any knowledge-worker's time over many different
tasks assures that he or she will be thrust into two or more different
work groups, none of which is likely to jell into a real team.

Fragmented time is almost certain to be teamicidal, but it
also has another insidious effect: It is guaranteed to waste the
individual's time. A worker with multiple assignments—a little
new development, some maintenance of a legacy product, some
sales support, and perhaps a bit of end user hand-holding—will
spend a significant part of each day switching gears. This time is
largely invisible. The worker sets aside a design task to field a
telephone call, works with the caller for twenty minutes to offer
guidance about reconfiguring a database on one of the company's
early products, and then turns back to the design task. If you
were standing beside this person with a stop watch, you would
probably have noted no wasted time at all. The waste is concealed
in the slow restart of his or her design work, the direct
result of interrupted flow.

Fragmentation is particularly injurious when two of the
tasks involve qualitatively different kinds of work habits. Thus,
the mix of a design task (which requires lots of immersion time,
relative quiet, and quality interaction time with a small group)
with a telephone support task (which requires instant interruptibility,
constant availability, quick change of focus) is sure to make
progress on the more think-intensive of these tasks virtually
impossible. The time wasted continually trying to get restarted is
perceived only as frustration by the worker. You may never hear
about it, because the people who suffer from this problem are all
too likely to blame themselves.

Respecting YourInvestment

My consulting over these last few years has, for some
reason, required more and more travel to Europe. I
have begun taking the day flights from Boston to
London, as they seem to be less of a trial for my now
permanently jet-lagged body. Unfortunately, most of
the other European capitals are served only by night
flights out of Boston. I railed against this until an airline
employee patiently pointed out to me that his company


THE ULTIMATE MANAGEMENT SIN IS ... 221

was reluctant to let a giant investment like a 747 sit on
the tarmac for all the extra hours that would be
required to connect an east-west day flight with a west-
east day flight 747s, after all, represent a ton of
money.

—TDM

The human capital invested in your work force also represents
a ton of money. If your company employs a few thousand
knowledge-workers, it could easily have enough invested in them
to be the equivalent of a modern wide-body aircraft. Wasting the
time of that huge investment is money poured down the drain.


Chapter 34

THE MAKING OF COMMUNITY


In this final chapter, we turn to what great managers do best:

the making of community. A need for community is something

that is built right into the human firmware:

During my school years, my family insisted on moving
almost every year, and I rarely finished a school year in
the same town where I had begun it. I had a complete
change of friends, acquaintances, and teachers nearly
every year. One of the few constants in my life was the
set of basal readers that were used by the New
England schools in those years; these books were
used in every school that I attended. The text concerned
a family that had lived in one town, a place
called Winchester, since the 1770s. Each year, the
class studied a subsequent generation of the family,
until by sixth grade we had followed it through the
Revolution and all the way into the early twentieth century.
While the characters in that family are long since
forgotten to me, I retain a vivid memory of the town.
Winchester was a place where everyone knew everyone,
where people stayed put from generation to generation,
where a lost dog or a troubled child was everybody's
concern, and where you looked out for your
neighbors when calamity happened. If I have any roots
at all, I guess they're in Winchester.

—TDM

222


THE MAKING OF COMMUNITY 223

If there is something deep inside you that responds to the
idea of such a town, it's probably because you don't presently live
in one. The lovely little Winchesters of the world began to
change and disappear in the 1920s. Most of us today live in
places that aren't really communities at all. People don't know
their neighbors very well, they commute out to work someplace
else, and nobody expects the kids to settle down in the same
town. Bedroom communities, in particular, are all bedroom and
no community.

But we still have a strong need for community. The complicated
truth of our times is that most of our towns no longer satisfy
this need. It is instead in the workplace that we have our best
chance offindingcommunity. If it's there to be found ...

Digression on Corporate Politics

Community doesn't just happen on the job. It has to be made.
The people who make it are the unsung heroes of our work experience.


The science of making communities, making them healthy
and satisfying for all, is called politics. We hasten to add that it's
not the shameless shenanigans of corporate infighting that we're
going to address here; those are the pathologies of politics. What
we need to look at instead is "Politics, the Noble Science," as first
described by Aristotle.

Aristotle included Politics among the five interlinked Noble
Sciences that together make up Philosophy. The five are

. Metaphysics: the study of existence, the nature of the
universe and all its contents
. Logic: the ways we may know something, the set of permissible
conclusions we may draw based on our perceptions,
and some sensible rules of deduction and inference
. Ethics: what we know about man and what we may
deduce and infer (through Logic) about acceptable interactions
between pairs of individuals
. Politics: how we may logically extend Ethics to the larger
group, the science of creating and managing such
groups consistent with ethical behavior and logical
recognition of the metaphysical entities—humans and
the community made up of humans



. Aesthetics: the appreciation of symbols and images of
metaphysical reality, which are pleasing to the extent
that they are logically consistent and that they inform us
about ethical interaction and/or political harmony
You may be quite sure that you want no part of office politics of
the sleazy kind, but Aristotelian Politics is something else entirely.
Aristotelian Politics is the key practice of good management.
Refusing to be political in the Aristotelian sense is disastrous; it is
an abnegation of the manager's real responsibility. Similarly,
senior workers at all levels share some responsibility for community-
building. They are the elders of whatever community does
form.

Why It Matters

An organization that succeeds in building a satisfying community
tends to keep its people. When the sense of community is strong
enough, no one wants to leave. The investment made in human
capital is thus retained, and upper management finds itself willing
to invest more. When the company invests more in its people, the
people perform better and feel better about themselves and about
their company. This makes them still less likely to move on. The
positive reinforcement here is all to the good.

Of course, even the best sense of on-the-job community
doesn't assure that you will keep all your people forever. Some
will know they have to leave to advance their own careers or for
whatever other reason. However, when people do leave such an
organization, they tend to time their departures to minimally
inconvenience the community. This is an extraordinary boon to
anyone doing project work, since it means that workers are
unlikely to leave during the project. This effect alone, of departing
only at project end, is worth more than all the process
improvement your organization is likely to make over the next
decade.

So far, we've discussed only the tangible, dollars-and-cents
benefits. There is an intangible at work here, too, one that's liable
to have even more significance to you than all the rest. To consider
it, cast your mind forward, just for a moment, to that day in the
distant future, when you are about to cash in your chips. You're
on your deathbed at the grand old age of, let's say, a hundred and
one. You're in no great discomfort, only old. At this age, your


THE MAKING OF COMMUNITY 225

thoughts are all in the past. You're taking stock. You ask yourself
the question, What really mattered in my life and what didn't? It's
no great surprise that many of the concerns that utterly obsessed
you all those years ago (for example, getting that humongous version
27 build of WhizBang v6.1.1 to stabilize) don't figure very
prominently in your deathbed assessment. No, you're much more
likely to think about warm family relations, kids and grandkids,
the house and all its memories. Any contribution from your
work? Well, sure, it was nice to be part of the coming-of-age of
the Information Era. It was good to rise to the top of a company,
or nearly to the top, to have your chance at setting directions.
That was nice. But don't forget that you also succeeded at creating
a real community within that company, something that people
loved and respected and gave their allegiance to. Now, that was
an accomplishment. That's got to figure very prominently in your
sense of what you have done with your life. The pleasure you
take from that—-like the pleasure that Michelangelo must have
felt, mulling over his contributions—need have no very strong
connection to their cash value at the time. This was a creation.
This was Art, you tell yourself, and the person who made it happen
was an Artist.

Pulling Off the Magic

Okay, so community is good, so it is an admirable goal to build
community in the workplace. How is it done?

We are not going to presume to set forth a formula for such
a complicated matter. There is no formula. Like any work of art,
your success at fostering community is going to require substantial
talent, courage, and creativity. It will also need an enormous
investment of time. The work will not be completed by you
alone; at best, you will be the catalyst. The form of your creation
will not be very much like anyone else's.

So, in place of a formula, we offer instead an example, a
single example. The example comes from one of our client companies,
a company where one enterprising manager stepped in
and changed the culture forever. This catalytic genius persuaded
the organization to build itself around a school. The school is
made up of a day-care and preschool center, plus classes for
kindergartners through fifth graders. The school is for the children
of employees.


226 PEQPLEWARE


No doubt you can see the dollars-and-cents rationale for this,
the unique advantage the company gained for hiring programmers
and engineers in a tight market. But you'd have to walk through
the company to see what the school does for community. You'd
have to be mere for that moment every afternoon when the teachers
lead the entire student body through the whole facility. They
make up a noisy, funny, triumphantly silly parade of little kids
whooping it up and saying hello to everyone. You can hear them
coming a mile away. All work pauses for the procession. There
are lots of hugs. When it's over, everyone feels great.

Imagine having been the person responsible for that. Imagine
having that to look back at from the age of a hundred and one.


CHAPTER 1


p. 3 The DeMarco/Lister project surveys are described in DeMarco,
1977; DeMarco, 1978; DeMarco, 1982; and DeMarco and Lister,
1985.
p. 4 The figure on the failure rate of projects of twenty-five work-years
or larger comes from Jones, 1981.

CHAPTER 2

p. 8 We have used the terms "thinking worker," "development worker,"
"knowledge worker," and "intellect worker" at various times in the
book, but they all refer to people who must think for a living.
p. 12 There is unfortunately no National Bureau of Facts to collect and
publish hard data on the percent of time a developer spends on such
activities as strategic thinking and investigation of new methods.
The five percent figure cited in the text is derived from experiments
in which technical workers either thought out loud for an observer as
they tackled their problems, or they allowed themselves to be
observed through a one-way glass. For a selection of such studies,
see Soloway and lyengar, 1986.
p. 12 The statistics on both ownership and reading come from private correspondence
with the late Karl Karlstrom, then Senior Editor and
Assistant Vice President of the College Division at Prentice-Hall, 1981.
227


228 NOTES

CHAPTERS

pp. 13-16 The lyrics as well asjhe chapter's title are from Billy Joel's 1977
album entitled "The Stranger," and are reprinted with


p. 17 For discussion of Data General's Eagle project, see Kidder, 1981.
CHAPTER 4

p. 21 See Jones, 1981 for data on the prevailing standards of software
quality.
p. 22 Tajima and Matsubara, 1984, p. 40.
p. 22 See Crosby, 1979.
CHAPTERS

p. 24 For more on this famous law, see Parkinson, 1954.
p. 26 For the latest figures from the New South Wales studies, see Jeffery
and Lawrence, 1985.
p. 26 See Boehm, 1982.
p. 27 Tables 5.1 and 5.2 are adapted from Jeffery and Lawrence, 1985.
p. 28 Quote is from Jones, 1986, p. 213.
p. 28 Table 5.3 is from Jeffery and Lawrence, 1985.
p. 29 You're right to worry that the twenty-four projects for which no estimate
was made might have been special in some other way: either
shorter projects, or those with senior personnel. We did look into
the data for such obvious biases and they weren't there to be found.
CHAPTER 6

p. 32 Data on the (pitifully small) increase in software industry productivity
was taken from Morrissey and Wu, 1980.
CHAPTER 7

p. 40 Christopher Alexander presents the case for windowed workspace in
Alexander et al., 1977. More about windows in Chapter 13.
CHAPTER 8

p. 44 The conduct of and data from the 1977 through 1981 public productivity
studies are presented in DeMarco, 1982. The Coding War
Games are described in detail in DeMarco and Lister, 1985.

NOTES 229

p. 45 Figure 8.1 showing productivity variation and the three rules of
thumb are derived from three sources: Boehm, 1981, pp. 435-37,
447; Sackman et al., 1968, pp. 3-11; and Augustine, 1979. A subsequent
study by Michael Lawrence of the University of New South
Wales lends further weight to the three rules (see Lawrence, 1981).
p. 46 Figure 8.2 showing variation in performance in Coding War Games
1984 is adapted from DeMarco and Lister, 1985.
p. 47 For more about the very weak relationships between productivity
and factors such as salary and experience, see Lawrence and Jeffery,
1983.
p. 48 The Harlan Mills quote is from Mills, 1983, p. 266.
p. 50 We are not alone in reporting on the linked effects of workplace and
productivity. For a complementary view, see Boehm et al., 1984.
CHAPTER 9

p. 51 The figures on space costs are adapted from Brill, 1983.
p. 52 SeeBrunner, 1972.
pp. 52-53 Quote from Data Management: See Dittrich, 1984.
p. 53 For details on the IBM studies, see McCue, 1978.
p. 54 Figure 9.1: See DeMarco and Lister, 1985.
INTERMEZZO |

p. 59 Gilb is not the only or even the first person to make the point about
measurability. See, for example. Chapter 2 of Gilbert, 1978.
p. 60 For productivity measurement schemes, see Albrecht, 1979; Bailey
and Basili, 1981; Boehm, 1981; Jones, 1986; and DeMarco, 1982.
p. 60 The assessment service mentioned is Software Evaluation and
Assessment Service, available from Quantitative Software Management,
McLean, VA.
pp. 60-61 See DeMarco, 1982 for more on the idea of blind measurement of
individual characteristics.

CHAPTER 10

p. 62 Table 10.1: See McCue, 1978.
p. 63 For more about flow, see Goleman, 1986 and Brady, 1986.
p. 67 ESS stands for Electronic Switching System.

230 NOTES

CHAPTER 12

p. 78 The Cornell experiment was never documented and has thus taken
on the status of hearsay evidence except for those of us who were
there. For a concurring view of the effect of music on concentration,
see Jaynes, 1976, pp. 367-68.
CHAPTER 13


pp. 81 -82 Reprinted with permission from Alexander, 1979, p. 7.
pp. 83-84 Reprinted with permission from Alexander et al., 1975, pp. 10-11.


p. 84 Graphic is reprinted from Alexander et al., 1975, p. 46.
p. 85 Graphic is reprinted from Alexander et al., 1977, p. 846.
pp. 85-86 Reprinted with permission from Alexander et al., 1977, pp. 847-51.
p. 88 Graphic from Alexander et al., 1975, p. 125.
p. 88 Our information about the lack of cost associated with providing a
window for each worker came from private communication with
Michael Brill, President, BOSTI, March 1987.
p. 90 Reprinted with permission from Alexander et al., 1977, pp. 697-99.
CHAPTER 16

p. 105 For typical turnover figures, see Bartol, 1983.
p. 107 It is startling that those who actually build the products could be so
young. See Hodges, 1986 for some of the original
p. 109 See Townsend, 1970, p. 64.
CHAPTER 17

p. 117 Ken Orr has taken on the issue of "Big M" Methodologies in his
charming send-up The One Minute Methodology (Orr, 1990).
p. 119 See Parsons, 1974 for a fascinating relook at the Hawthorne Effect.
CHAPTER 20

p. 133 See deBono, 1970.
p. 135 See Jones, 1981.
CHAPTER 22

p. 143 See Thomsett, 1980.
p. 144 See Robbins, 1977, p. 280.

NOTES 231


CHAPTER 23

p. 152 The title of this section on closure was suggested by Nancy
Meabon's presentation at the Feedback '86 Conference sponsored by
Ken Orr & Associates in Kansas City, October 1986.
CHAPTER 24

p. 162 The granddaddy of business war games is Robert Chase's Hotel and
Club Management Simulation Exercise, run under the auspices of
Cornell University's Statler College of Hotel Administration.
p. 165 The most authoritative source on brainstorming is Edward deBono's
always fascinating Lateral Thinking: Creativity Step by Step.
DeBono demonstrates the linked nature of creativity and humor
through a series of simple exercises. By the time you've finished
reading the book, you're looking for creative insight every time you
hear yourself laugh.
p. 165 DeBono is the master of creativity as an individual exercise. But some
of the best creative work in business is performed by teams of people
creating together. The most authoritative source on team creativity (or
synectics) is William J.J. Gordon. See Gordon, 1961, a readable,
inspiring, and thoroughly wonderful book.
CHAPTER 26

p. 173 During the German occupation of the 1940s, one very active arm of
the Danish resistance called itself Holgar Dansk.
CHAPTER 27

p. 180 Jerry Weinberg's theory of overtime is taken from a conversation
with him during a joint consult in Fort Collins, September 25, 1990.
CHAPTER 28

p. 183 See Deming, 1982, p. 24.
CHAPTER 30

p. 195 See Machiavelli, 1985, p. 23
p. 196 Figure 30.1 is based on private correspondence in 1992 with Jerry W.
Johnson of the Meninger Business Institute, regarding his work with G.
Swogger, M.D., on the "Resistance Continuum."

232 NOTES

p. 198 See Bridges, 1991 (p. 30) for his insight on celebrating the old.
p. 199 Graphic based on semantic content from Satir, 1991.
CHAPTER 31

p. 204 See also Tom DeMarco's "Human Capital, Unmasked," The New
York Times, Vol. CXLV, No. 50,397, Section 3, Money & Business
(April 14, 1996), p. 13.
CHAPTER 32

p. 211 Nicholas Negroponte's suggestion was part of his presentation titled
"Technology Convergence," given at The Camden Conference on
Telecommunications in Camden, Maine, October 1997.
CHAPTER 33

p. 219 In fact, "lean and mean" staffing during key analysis and design
activities can be hazardous to your health, as illustrated in The
Deadline: A Novel About Project Management (DeMarco, 1997).
The main character, Mr. Tompkins, covertly uses a lean staff in
analysis and design, though he is threatened with execution if he
misses an impossible deadline.

Albrecht, 1979.
Albrecht, AJ. "Measuring Application Development Productivity."

Proceedings of the Joint SHARE/GUIDE/IBM Application Development
Symposium Chicago: Guide International Corp., 1979.

Alexander, 1964;
Alexander, Christopher. Notes on the Synthesis of Form. Cambridge,
Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1964.

Alexander, 1979.
. The Timeless Way ofBuilding. New York: Oxford University
Press, 1979.
Alexander et al., 1975.
, M. Silverstein, S. Angel, S. Ishikawa, and D. Abrams. The
Oregon Experiment. New York: Oxford University Press, 1975.
Alexander et al., 1977.
Alexander, C, S. Ishikawa, and M. Silverstein, with M. Jacobson, I.
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234 BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bailey and Basili, 1981.

Bailey, J.W., and V.R. Basili. "A Meta-Model for Software Development
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}

Bartol, K. "Turnover Among DP Personnel: A Causal Analysis."
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Boehm, 1981.
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N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1981.

Boehm et al., 1984.
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Arthur B. Pyster. "A Software Development Environment for
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Brady, 1986.
Brady, J. "A Theory of Productivity in the Creative Process." IEEE
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Bridges, 1991.
Bridges, W. Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change.
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Brill, 1983.
Brill, Michael, with Stephen T. Margulis, Ellen Konar, and BOSTI.
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Organization for Social and Technological Innovation, 1983.
Branner, 1972.

9

Brunner, John. The Sheep Look Up. New York: Ballantine Books,
1972.

Couger and Zawacki, 1980.

Couger, J. Daniel, and Robert A. Zawacki. Motivating and Managing
Computer Personnel. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1980.


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Crosby, 1979.
Crosby, Philip B. Quality Is Free: The Art ofMaking Quality Certain.
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deBono, 1970.
deBono, Edward. Lateral Thinking: Creativity Step by Step. New
York: Harper & Row, 1970.
DeMarco, 1977.
DeMarco, Tom. Report on the 1977 Productivity Survey. New York:
Yourdon, Inc., September 1977.
DeMarco, 1978.
. Structured Analysis and System Specification. Englewood
Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1978.
DeMarco,. 1982.
. Controlling Software Projects: Management, Measurement
& Estimation. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1982.
DeMarco, 1997,
. the Deadline: A Novel About Project Management. New
York: Dorset House Publishing, 1997.
DeMarco and Lister, 1985.
, and Tim Lister. "Programmer Performance and the Effects of
the Workplace." Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on
Software Engineering. New York: Institute of Electrical and
Electronics Engineers, 1985, pp. 268-72.
Deming, 1982.
Deming, W.E. Out of the Crisis. Cambridge, Mass.: Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, Center for Advanced Engineering Study, 1982.
Dittrich, 1984.
Dittrich, R. "Open-Plan DP Environment Boosts Employee Productivity."
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Gilb, 1977.
Gilb, Tom. Software Metrics, Cambridge, Mass.: Winthrop Publishers,
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Gilbert, Thomas F. Human Competence: Engineering Worthy Performance.
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Jones, 1986.
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Little, Brown, 1981.


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Lawrence, Michael. "Programming Methodology, Organizational Environment,
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Lawrence and Jeffery, 1983.
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15, No. 1 (February 1983), p. 28.
Machiavelli, 1985.
Machiavelli, Niccolo. The Prince, trans. Harvey C. Mansfield, Jr.
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McCue, 1978.
McCue, Gerald. "IBM's Santa Teresa Laboratory—Architecture Design
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(1978), pp. 320-41.
Mills, 1983.
Mills, Harlan D. "Software Productivity in the Enterprise." Software
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Morrissey and Wu, 1980.
Morrissey, J.H., and S.-Y. Wu. "Software Engineering: An Economic
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Orr, Kenneth T. The One Minute Methodology. New York: Dorset
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Parkinson, 1954.
Parkinson, C. Northcote. Parkinson's Law and Other Studies in Administration.
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Parsons, 1974.
Parsons, H.M. "What Happened at Hawthorne?" Science, Vol. 183
(March 8, 1974), pp. 922-32.


238 BIBLIOGRAPHY


Robbins, 1977.
Robbins, Tom. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. New York: Bantam
Books, 1977. .
Sackman et al., 1968.

Sackman, H., W.J. Erikson, and E.E. Grant. "Exploratory Experimental
Studies Comparing On-line and Off-line Performance."
Communications ofthe ACM, Vol. 11, No. 1 (January 1968), pp. 3-11.

Satir, 1991.
Satir, V., J. Banmen, J. Gerber, and M. Gomori. The Satir Model:
Family Therapy and Beyond. Palo Alto, Calif.: Science and Behavior
Books, 1991.
Soloway and lyengar, 1986.
Soloway, Elliot, and Sitharama lyengar, eds. Empirical Studies of Programmers.
Norwood, N.J.: Ablex Publishing Corp., 1986.
Tajima and Matsubara, 1984.
Tajima, D., and T. Matsubara. "Inside the Japanese Software Jjidustry."
Computer, Vol. 17 (March 1984).
Thomsett, 1980.
Thomsett, Rob. People & Project Management. Englewood Cliffs,
N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1980.
Townsend, 1970.
Townsend, R. Up the Organization. New York: Alfred A. Knopf,
1970.


Albrecht, A., 229, 233

Alexander, C., 81-91,228,230,233
meta-plan, 83
organic order theory, 82-84

Amazon.com example, 211
Ambrose example, 215-16
Aptitude tests, 102-3
Aristotle, 223 {
Atlantic Systems Guild, 89, 194,

248
Auditions,103^i, 148
Augustine, N., 229, 233
Automated softwaredevelopment,

33

Bailey, J., 229, 234
Bartol, K., 230,234
Basili, V., 229, 234
Bell, A., 69-70
Bell Laboratories, 67, 110
Black Team, 129-31,136
Boehm, B., 26, 228, 229, 234

CoCoMo productivity metric, 26
Bonham, B., 170
Brady, J., 229, 234
Brainstorming, 11-12,164-65,231
Branton, R., 169
Bridges, W., 198, 232, 234

Brill, M., 229, 230, 234
Brunner, J., 52, 229, 234
Bureaucracy, 15ff., 135
Bureau of Labor Statistics, 112

Cadre Technologies, 151

Capability Maturity Model
(CMM), 187, 188, 189ff.
Key Process Area (KPA) of,
187ff., 192

Change, 194-201
agents of, 194-95
continuum, 196-98, 231
failure and, 201
Machiavelli's ideas on, 195
middle management and, 212-14
modes of,198-200
organizational learning and, 210
redesign example and, 211
resistance to, 196
responses to, 194,196-98
Satir model of, 199-200
security in,200-201
stages of, 198-200
uncertainty in, 195-96

Chaos, 199-200
Cincinnati Gas & Electric, 127
Clique, 127-28, 138-39

239


240 INDEX

Closure, 151-53
CMM: See Capability Maturity
Model
Coaching,182-83
by manager, 182
by team members, 182-83
Codd and Date Consulting Group,
34
Coding War Games, 44-50, 72,
162-64, 228, 229
effects of workplace and, 48-50,
54-56
sample time sheet, 64
Community, 222-26
Aristotelian politics and, 223-24
example of, 225-26
Competition within teams, 181-85,
213
Constantine, L., 147
Cornell University research, 78,
230,231
Corporate culture:
Coding War Games and, 48
E-Factor and, 67
effect on productivity, 48
effect of relocation on, 108-10,
173-74
entropy, 99
goals and, 124-26, 135
healthy, 31, 144-45, 150-57
hiringand, 95-97
paging system and, 40, 75
of permanence,111-12
posters and plaques, effect on,
177-79
teams and, 121
telephone and, 72ff.
turnover and, 105-12
Cottage industry, 167-68
Couger, J., 234
Creativity, 178
Crosby, P., 22, 228, 235
Cubicles, 40, 79, 86, 136

DarthVader example, 192
Data General, 17, 228
Deadlines,11-12, 25, 29, 34, 232
phony,137-38
resources and, 20
staffing and, 218-19
deBono,E., 133,230,231,235
DeMarco, T., 198, 227, 228, 229,
232,235,248
anecdotes, 10-11, 13, 34, 43, 59,
67,71-72, 110,125,137,
144^5, 167,184, 188,201,
215-16,221,222
DeMarco/Lister Effect, 56
Deming, W, 183-84, 231, 235
pride of workmanship and,
183-84
Deterministic system, 113-14
Digital Equipment Corp., 147
Dittrich, R., 53,229, 235
Documentation, 116
Downsizing, 207-8
Dress code, 97-98, 157
DuPont, 118, 127

E-Factor, 66-67, 171
EG&G, 112
E-mail system, 73-74
Environment, office:
characteristics of ideal, 81-91
costs of, 51-59
creative, 78
enclosed area, 75-80
factors correlated to performance,
49-50,179
floor plans and, 39^0, 52, 56,
79, 86-87, 136
flow and, 63-68
productive, 146
windows in, 40,87-88
Environmental Factor, 66-67, 171
ESS 1 project relocation, 110
Estimating methods, 12


INDEX 241


Jeffery-Lawrence data on,
26-28, 228,236-37


FedEx example, 211
Fellows, 168, 170
Floor plans, office, 39-40, 76
cubicles, 40, 86, 136
open plan, 52, 79
patterns of design, 84-90
people density and, 56
possible arrangements, 87
Flow, 63-68
telephone and, 69
Foreign element, 199
Forester, C., 95, 235
Fujitsu, 23, 161
Furniture layouts, 87
Furniture Police, xi, 37-41,76, 136

General Electric, 127, 144
Getaway ploy, 57, 145-47, 165-66
Gilb, T., 59, 229, 236
Gilbert, T., 229, 236
Gilb'sLaw,59
Goleman, D., 229, 236
Gordon, W., 231,236
Gurus, 168

Hawthorne Effect, 119-20, 160,
230
Hewlett-Packard, 23, 111
High-tech illusion, 5-6, 32, 33,119
Hiring, 95-97
aptitude tests for, 102-3
auditions and, 103-^t, 148
interview for, 100-104
terminating and, 113
Hitachi Software, 23, 112
Hodges, P., 230, 236
Holgar Dansk, xi, 172-7'4, 231
Hornblower, H., 95, 96, 235
Human capital, 202-8,210,221,224
Humphrey, W., 187, 188, 199

IBM, 161
workplace study, 53-54, 62, 229
Interrupt-free time, 49, 63-67, 75
telephone and, 72ff.
Intrapreneurs, 168,169
Inversion, 133, 165
Iterative design, 8
lyengar, S., 227, 238

Jaynes, J., 230, 236
Jeffery, R., 26-29,228,229,236,237
Job interview, 100-104
Job satisfaction, 60, 105-12,
151-56
Joel, B., 15-16, 228
Johnson, J., 196, 197,231
Jones, C., 28, 135, 227, 228, 229,
230,236

Karlstrom, K., 227
Ketchledge, R., 110
Key Process Area (KPA), 187ff.,
192
Kidder, T., 228, 236

Laetrile,30-34
Language, effect on productivity,
32-33, 47
Lawrence, ML, 26-29,228,229,
236,237
Leadership, 155, 178
posters, 178
Lister, T., 227, 228, 229, 235, 248
anecdotes, 9-10,18,30-31,
38-39, 57, 73-74, 98, 104, 134,
145^6, 189, 196,201,210
Loyalty, 178

Machiavelli, N., 195, 231, 237
Maginot Line example, 209
Management, 178, 181-82, 183-84
See also Management sin; The
Management Team; Managers


242 INDEX

Aristotelian politics and, 223-24
defensive, 133-35, 144
definition, 9, 34, 96
folklore, xiii, 42
learning and, 213-14
by objectives (MBO), 183-84
Seven Sirens of, 31-34
Spanish Theory, 14-18
style, 7-9
thermodynamic law of, 99
Management sin, 215-21
of fragmentation of time, 219-20
of overstaffmg, 217-19
of status meetings, 215-17
Management Team, The, 212-13
Managers:
born versus made, 95-96
communicationamong,212-14
community and, 222
competition, approach to, 18Iff.,
213
deadlines and, 138
disorder and, 159
experience and, 210
hysterical optimism of, 124
middle, 212-14
natural authority and, 148-49
open kimono, 143-49, 159
overtime and, 180
personnel hiring, 95-97
productivity and, 32
teamicide and, 213
teams and, 128ff., 181ff., 212-13
in white space, 213-14
Mao Tse-tung, 120
Matsubara, T., x, 22, 228, 238
Mazzucchelli, L., 151
MBO: See Management by objectives
McCue, G., 53-54, 62, 229, 237
McMenamin, S., ix, x, 168, 194
Meabon, N., 231

Measurement schemes:
of individual performance,
45^6, 61,183
of productivity,52-53,58-61,
229
of workplace costs, 51-59
Medici family, 195
Meetings,215-17
as ceremony, 216, 217
Menninger Business Institute, 196,
231
Meta-plan, for facility design, 83
Methodology, 8, 114-20, 135
Big-M, 186
Methods, standardized, 116, 118
convergence of, 118
survey, 196
MicroSage Computer Systems,
170
Mills, H., 48, 229, 237
Morrissey, J., 228, 237
Motivation, worker, xi, 28-29, 60,
117
posters and plaques for, 177-79
Mushet, M., 169

Negroponte, N., 211, 232
New South Wales data, 26-29, 228
Noise, effect on productivity, 37,
40,43,49-57, 75-80, 91,136
Cornell research on, 72, 230
people density and, 56-57
telephone, 49, 72
work modes and, 62-68

Office environment: See
Environment, office
Open office plan, 52, 79
Organic order, 82-84
Organizational learning, 209-14
employee turnover and, 209-11
experience and,209-11


INDEX 243


via management communication,
211-13
middle management and, 212-14
redesign example, 211
in white space, 213-14
Orr,K., 117, 152,230, 231,237
Overstaffing,217-19
Overtime, 13-18,42-43,179^80,231
negative impact of, 179-80
teamicide and, 179-80
time accounting and, 64-65

Pacific Bell, 112
Page-Jones, M., ix-x
Paging system, 40, 75, 173
Paperwork, 116, 135
Parkinson, C, 228, 237
Parkinson's Law, 23, 24-29, 145,
171,228
Parsons, H., 230, 237
Partitioned workspace, 40, 79, 86,
136
Patterns, for office design, 84-90
Peer review, 118
People Store, 9-10
Personnel,205-7
See also Human capital
investment in, 204-8
retention of, 210
turnover,205-8,210-11, 224
Pilot project, 160-62
Politics, Aristotelian, 223-24
Popcorn standard, 98-99
Portfolio, 101-2
Prideful workmanship, 178
Privacy, effect on productivity, 40,
54-55, 75-80, 89-90
Process improvement programs,
186-93
Big-M methodologies, 186
history of, 186-87
staff turnover and, 224
Production environment, 7

Productivity:
See also Privacy, effect on productivity
definition of, 14, 17
estimating and, 26-29
factors,31-34,44-50, 229
fragmentation of time and,
219-20
improvement, 31-34
Japanese, 22
languages and, 32-33,47
Lawrence-Jeffery studies, 26-29
Louise and Ralph example,
205-6
measurement of,26-29,45-50,
52-53, 58-61, 229
noise, effect on, 37,40,43,
49-57, 62-68, 72, 75-80, 91,
136,230
overtime and, 13-18,42-43
pilot project and, 160-62
programmer,27-28
relocation and, 110
of software industry, 32
technology and, 3-6, 31-32
turnoverand, 205-6
windows and, 40, 87-88
Product quality, 137, 151
defined, 17
Japanese, 22, 23
MTBFand, 21
resources and, 20
schedules and, 11-12, 17-23,
26-29, 34
self-esteemand,19-20, 144-^5
windowed office space and, 40
workspace quality and, 55-57
Professional, as code word, 98-99,
157
Profit-and-loss example, 202-3
Project:
catalyst, 10-11
development environment, 7-8


244 INDEX

personnel, 9-10,96, 148, 227
pilot, 160-62
politics, 4, 217-19
risk and,189-90,191ff.
schedules, 11-12, 17-18, 19-23,
25-29
sociology, 4, 8,103
staffing plan, 217-19, 232
surveys,3-4, 26-29,44-50, 72,
162-64, 227
tournament, 163-64

Quality, 178
CMM and, 190
cult of, 151-52
motivation and, 178
of products, 19-20, 23, 137,
144-45, 178
of workspace, 37ff., 55-57
of work time,42-43, 59, 64-68,
74, 136-37

Reader's Digest, 111
Resistance-to-Change Continuum,
196-98,231
Risk, 189-90, 19Iff.
Robbins, T., 144, 230, 238
Robertson, J., x
Robertson, S., x, 214

Sackman, H., 229, 238
Salary:
programmer performance and, 47
teamicide and, 183
workspace cost and, 51-52
Santa Teresa study, 53-54, 62, 229
Satir, V., 199-200, 232, 238
Satir change model, 199
Schedules, 11-12, 17-18
Self-esteem, and product quality,
19-20, 144-45
Ski trip example, 201
Skunkworks project, 147

Software backlog, 33
Software Engineering Institute
(SEI), 186-87,188, 190, 192
Soloway, E., 227, 238
Southern California Edison, 112
Southern Company Services, 161,
169
Spanish Theory of Management,
14-18
Staffing: See Personnel; Project
staffing plan
Standardization:
of methods, 7,116, 187-88
of products, 161, 187
Status quo, and change model, 198ff.
Survey of development projects,
3-4
Coding War Games, 44-50, 72,
162-64, 228
Lawrence-Jeffery data, 26—29
Swogger,E.,231
System, all-human, 113

Tajima, D., 22, 228, 238
Team, 121ff., 179-80, 181-85, 213
Black, 129-31
catalyst, 11
as choir, 185
competition within, 181-85, 213
elite, 153-54
flexibility of, 179
formation,26,132-39, 150-56
goals and, 124-26
heterogeneity of, 156, 180
hiring, 103^1
interactions, 136-37, 183
jelled, 123-29, 132-35, 143ff.,
149, 156, 179, 182,213
member selection, 96, 148, 174
purpose, 126
quality and, 23, 144-45, 178
sociology, 8, 147-48
as sports metaphor for, 184-85


INDEX 245


uniformity of, 156,180
workspace,89-90, 136
Teamicide,xi, 132-39, 177-80,
183-84,213, 220
competition and, 183-184
overtime and, 179-80
performance measurement and, 183
time fragmentation and, 220
Technology, 32
Telephone, xii, 69ff., 173
effect on productivity, 49
ethic, 72ff.
interruption by,xii, 63-64
Termination, 113
Thomis, W., 67
Thomsett, R., 143, 230, 238
Time accounting, 64-65
Timeless Way of Building, 81-91
Time sheet, 64
Townsend, R., 109,230, 238
Training, 108, 112, 118, 165
Turnover, worker, 105-12, 205—7,
210-11, 224
costs of, 105-8;
promoting and, 107
teams and, 127

Uniformity, corporation's need for,
96-97,99,156
Uninterrupted hours, 63-67, 72-75

Voice-mail system, xii, 73

Wall Street and staffing policies,
207-8
War games, 162-64
See also Coding War Games
Weinberg,!., 180, 231
Weinberg, S., 34
White space example, 213-14
Wiener, J., 144
Windowed office space, 39^0,
87-88,228

Women on teams, 156
Workaholics, 16
Workers, as interchangeable parts,
7, 108
Workplace:
characteristics of ideal, 81-91
cleanliness, 38
community, 222-26
costs, 51-59
decor, 76-77
design, 37, 40, 75-80
indoor versus outdoor, 89
noise, 37, 43,49-57,62-68,
75-80, 91, 136
privacy, 37, 40, 54-55, 75-80,
89-90
quality and product quality,
55-61
Work to rule, 117
Work time, 42, 59
accounting system, 64-65
brain time, 62-68
quality, 42ff., 74, 136-37
time sheet example, 64
work modes, 62
Wu, S., 228, 237

Xerox Corp., 153

Zawacki, R., 234


Praise for the First Edition O/PEOPLEWARE

"DeMarco and Lister are, at once, entertaining story tellers and astute
observers of the project management scene."

— John H. Taylor, E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. ".
. . fun to read because the authors illustrate their analyses and solutions
with war stories drawn from their consulting experience. But this well-
researched book is also persuasive because its advice is backed up by firm
scholarship." —PC World

"... the authors buttress their assertions with empirical data collected from studies
involving some 900 programmers and analysts. ... All of the chapters
contain insights and novel approaches that will make readers and managers
look at important issues from a new vantage point.... Its messages are important,
and the book deserves a place on the shelf of every software manager
and every software management consultant." —T. Capers Jones

"Lister and [DeMarco] savagely destroy a sizeable chunk of received wisdom,
using by turns well-picked example, epigrammatic darts, careful reasoning and
even data. ... even if you disagree with what DeMarco and Lister say, you
will enjoy how they say it, and you will go away thinking. Get the book and read
it. Then give it to your manager. Or, if you dare, your subordinates."

—Alan Campbell, Computing, London

"... casts a new light on human behavior in development projects."

— Tomoo Matsubara, Hitachi Software Engineering Co., Ltd.
"... their insights are penetrating. The overall effect is wisdom."

— Ware Myers, IEEE Computer Society
i

Also by TOM DEMARCO and TIMOTHY LISTER

The Deadline: A Novel About Project Management

by Tom DeMarco

ISBN: 0-932633-39-0 Copyright .1997 320 pages, softcover

Productive Teams: A Video

featuring Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister

ISBN: 0-932633-30-7 Copyright .1994 VMS or PAL 60 minutes

Software State-of-the-Art: Selected Papers

edited by Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister

ISBN: 0-932633-14-5 Copyright .1990 584 pages, hardcover

Why Does Software Cost So Much? And Other Puzzles of the Information
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ISBN: 0-932633-34-X Copyright .1995 248 pages, softcover

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353 West 12th Street New York, NY 10014 USA
1 -800-342-6657 212-620-4053 fax: 212-727-1044
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ABOUT THE AUTHORS



TOM DEMARCO and TIMOTHY LISTER
are principals of the Atlantic Systems
Guild (www.atlsysguild.com),
a New York-and London-based
consulting firm. Together, they
have lectured, written, and consulted
internationally since 1979 on
topics in estimating and productivity,
management, and corporate
culture.

TOM DEMARCO has written six books in
all, including The Deadline: A Novel about
Project Management [Dorset House, 1997].
He was the recipient of the 1986 J.-D.
Warnier Prize for "lifetime contribution to
the information sciences." His consulting
practice is focused mostly on project management
and method. Tom lives in
Camden, Maine.


TIMOTHY LISTER, based in Manhattan, divides
his time between consulting, teaching, and
writing, mostly in the area of risk management
for software organizations and projects.
Tim also negotiates software disputes for the
American Arbitration Association and participates
on the Airlie Council of the DoD's
Software Program Manager's Network.

PHOTO CREDITS:

top: Charles Betz
middle: Hein van Steenis
bottom: James Robertson
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