Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams (3rd Edition)

Author: Tom DeMarco, Timothy R. Lister
All Hacker News 15
This Year Hacker News 2
This Month Hacker News 2


by willismichael   2017-08-19
I use headphones in my current open workspace, but I find that there are certain things that I work on that are really better in silence. From Peopleware [1]:

"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 an 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 Cornless 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... 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."

I don't think there's a problem with listening to music some of the time. My concern is that by constantly having the headphones on to mitigate audible distractions, I'll miss insights that would directly impact the quality of the work that I do.


by funkaster   2017-08-19
"Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams"[1]. Even if you're not in a management track, it's a great read to learn and better understand how to structure teams for a happy, productive and successful path.


Edit: add Amazon link.

by austinsharp   2017-08-19
Regarding people skills, I always recommend Peopleware[1].


by bipson   2017-08-19
Everybody arguing for open office plans and stating that they or "some people" thrive in such environments should finally come around to read Peopleware [1].

Although they might base some statements on assumptions I do not fully agree with all the time, and before reading I was had not decided if I was strictly for or against open office plans, their conclusion is spot on: open plans do not foster collaboration or communication. They may cause a constant buzz and seem productive, but nobody will be smart, creative or productive in that environment, compared to a silent, uninterrupted workplace.

All you multitaskers and procrastinators (including me): You are lying to yourself.


by Stwerner   2017-08-19
I made the transition from engineer to managing a team of around 12 at Groupon. So I made the transition with a smaller team than you are - forgive me if some of this isn't as useful for your situation.

What worked for me:

- One on Ones. Nothing I've done has had as much of an impact as weekly one-on-one meetings with everybody on my team. I tend to follow the format outlined on Rands In Repose:

Extreme Ownership:

Becoming a Technical Leader:


- Finally, one piece of advice I got when I first transitioned into management was that "first-time managers usually fall into the trap of becoming the manager they wish they had. What you really need to do is figure out how to be the manager that each person on your team wishes they had, and become that manager." Easier said than done, obviously, but I've always found it useful to return to it whenever I am struggling.