A good read on how to build strong teams and how to be a good manager. Lots of interesting topics, including the role of product quality, methodologies, schedules, productivity, trust, freedom, and office planning.
Some good quotes from the book:
The major problems of our work are not so much technological as sociological in nature.
We Haven't Got Time to Think About This Job, Only to Do It
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).
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.
Projects [in the Productivity by Estimation Approach study] on which the boss applied no schedule pressure whatsoever ("Just wake me up when you're done.") had the highest productivity of all.
Three rules 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.
"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.
Your 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.
The company would love for every one of us to have a window, we 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.
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.
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 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.
The Hawthorne Effect. Loosely stated, it says that people perform better when they're trying something new.
Believing that workers will automatically accept organizational goals is the sign of naive managerial optimism.
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.
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 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.
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 fundamental response to change is not logical, but emotional.
This is part of 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.
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.