Peopleware Book Summary - Peopleware Book explained in key points

Peopleware summary

Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister

Productive Projects and Teams

4.1 (38 ratings)
18 mins

Brief summary

Peopleware by Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister is a must-read book for managers and IT professionals who want to develop productive and efficient teams. It covers the importance of creating a supportive work environment, managing human resources, and promoting teamwork.

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    Many creative projects fail because managers have adopted the wrong management style.

    Work done in the field of creative software development is largely project-based. Yet unfortunately, many of these projects crash and burn with many a manager scratching her head as to why.

    Indeed, companies undertake countless projects that are doomed to failure. In studies that looked at some 500 different software development projects from real companies, the authors observed that 15 percent of projects were either canceled or never ended up being used.

    Moreover, for larger and more time-consuming projects, specifically those that lasted 25 or more work-years, 25 percent remained incomplete.

    In studying these failed projects, the authors found that they couldn’t be explained by failures in technology. In fact, the majority of failed projects had no technological problems at all. Rather, the reasons for failure were sociological – that is, they involved the teams that worked on the projects.

    Unfortunately, most managers don’t address this aspect of project management, because of an erroneous understanding of their role in the business.

    To illustrate this, imagine you’re a manager out with your team of programmers at a cocktail party, and another party-goer asks you what you “do for a living.” How do you respond?

    If you answer, “I’m in software programming,” then you’ve already got it wrong!

    Managers, even those who manage teams that do technological work, are mostly in the human communication business. Their success, therefore, is derived from positive human interactions within their teams.

    Managers who don’t understand this central aspect of their job are more likely to manage inefficiently and make their workers unhappy, and thereby diminish the quality of their work.

    Thus, if you want to be a successful project manager – even in a highly technical field such as software development – you have to place a strong focus on people, not technology, management.

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    What is Peopleware about?

    Peopleware provides an in-depth look at the common mistakes project managers make, and offers concrete insight on the ways to correct them. By following a few simple steps, you can transform your development team into the productivity powerhouse that they’re waiting to become.

    Peopleware Review

    Peopleware (1987) by Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister is a must-read for anyone interested in creating high-performing teams and improving their work environment. Here's why this book stands out:

    • By offering practical insights and actionable advice, it equips readers with tools to enhance productivity and collaboration.
    • Backed by research and real-world examples, it provides a deep understanding of the dynamics and challenges of software development teams.
    • With its engaging writing style and relatable anecdotes, it manages to make a potentially dry topic exciting and relatable.

    Best quote from Peopleware

    The major problems of our work are not so much technological as sociological in nature.

    —Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister
    example alt text

    Who should read Peopleware?

    • Anybody who is interested in management
    • Anybody who is passionate about software development
    • Anyone who wants to get the most out of their team at work

    About the Author

    Tom DeMarco is a software engineer and software company consultant as well as the author of several books on the subject of project management and software development.

    Timothy Lister is a software engineer specializing in risk management as well as the human aspects of technological work, and has published a number of books on his areas of expertise.

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    Peopleware FAQs 

    What is the main message of Peopleware?

    The main message of Peopleware is that the success of software projects depends on the people involved, their interactions, and the work environment.

    How long does it take to read Peopleware?

    The reading time for Peopleware varies depending on the reader, but it typically takes several hours. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Peopleware a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Peopleware is worth reading as it offers valuable insights on building high-performing teams and creating a conducive work environment for software projects.

    Who is the author of Peopleware?

    The authors of Peopleware are Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister.