Mythical Man Month and Software Project Survuval Guide

I finished two books over the last week.  The first is the Mythical Man-Month.  An oldie-but-goodie, it was surprising to me about how many problems that were written about in the last 30 years are still with us.  Of course, they are human problems and it is much easier to change a computer than a person.  Brooks’s hypothesis of Time Versus Number of Workers in a task with complex interrelationships is still spot on – and companies are still re-learning this lesson even today.  The interesting thing is that his solutions are not really relevant – most have been tried, modified, or discarded (the specialization of labor and the parallel documentation has been largely discredited) but the problems of conceptual integrity and communicating outside of the system are still with us.  I chuckled when he wrote “this technical fad of object oriented programming…”.

The other book I read was Software Project Survival Guide by Steve McConnell.  A PMP light read, this book is showing its age.  I enjoyed his discussion on how to treat developers and how to get them to avoid context switching (something my current employer still hasn’t figured out) and the stages in planning.  If I have to lead a project in an overly bureaucratic organization that is behind the curve in terms of industry best practices, I would certainly reach for this book.  If I have the ability to lead a project in an agile and flexible organization, this book would stay on the shelf.

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