Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




Book recommendations for leading a software team

I've recently been given the task of leading a software development team (I've been a senior software engineer up until now, so this role is certainly new for me).  I'm interested in reading books that might be geared towards new software team leads.  I'm mainly looking for information on leadership techniques, project scheduling, design and analysis, etc.

"Leading a Software Development Team" by Richard Whitehead looks interesting.  Does anyone have any other recommendations for me to look into?

Thanks!

Mr. Nobody
Friday, May 21, 2004

"Software Project Survival Guide"  by Steve McConnell.  I actually liked this one better than Code Complete.

Ray
Friday, May 21, 2004


Dynamics of Software Development

Jim McCarthy

Eric Sink
Friday, May 21, 2004

do you think that after reading a book you will be able to lead a team? grrhh.


Friday, May 21, 2004


The Pragmatic Programmer by Andy Hunt & Dave Thomas

Leadership skills are not learned from a book though.  They're learned by trial and error.

KC
Friday, May 21, 2004

>do you think that after reading a book you will be able to lead a team? grrhh.

Do you think you can just become a lead team by instinct?  You have to learn it somehow. grrr

Bill Rushmore
Friday, May 21, 2004

Peopleware (by Timothy Lister and Tom DeMarco) should also be added to the list.

Mark S
Friday, May 21, 2004

If you haven't read Peopleware recently, it's worth reviewing. It won't necessarily tell you what to do in great detail, but it contains a lot of enduring truths about how development teams function and good advice on what *not* to do.

John C.
Friday, May 21, 2004


Dear "grrhh",

Do you really want to be on a team where the leader doesn't care enough to read the best material available on the subject?

Eric Sink
Friday, May 21, 2004

> do you think that after reading a book you will be able to > lead a team? grrhh.

No, I may have to read *two* books.  ;-)

Of course I don't think that.  I'm just trying to do a little bit of research before leaping into a new role.  In my career so far, I've seen many unsuccessful projects and a few that were successful.  I have different thoughts about what went right and what went wrong with all of them, but I still lack concrete experience in running a team on my own.  I'm not entirely sure how to do basic things like schedule a project.  Joel's article on painless schedules helped, but I really crave more details...more than I have from just my own experience.  That's where I think reading a book or two will help...I'll be exposed to new ideas and new ways of thinking, maybe gain some useful insights, etc.  It can only help, IMO.

As to the recommendations, they sound really good.  I've read Peopleware and Dynamics of Software Development before, but it's been a while.  I should dust them off and look into them again, I'm sure I've long forgotten most of the advice in them...

Mr. Nobody
Friday, May 21, 2004

Deathmarch

Dead already
Friday, May 21, 2004

I've like McConnell's Rapid Development, myself.

Dobie
Friday, May 21, 2004

"Becoming a Technical Leader" - by Gerald Weinberg.

"Crystal Clear",  by Alistair Cockburn.  http://alistair.cockburn.us/crystal/books/alistairsbooks.html  If you only ever read one book about software development processes, make sure its this one. :-)

John Rusk
Friday, May 21, 2004

Please don't become one of those retarded people that simply apply bullshit they picked up in a book without any critical evaluation.

for the sake of the children
Friday, May 21, 2004

A second vote for Death March. Also check these articles out:

Managing Software Engineers by Philip Greenspun
http://philip.greenspun.com/ancient-history/managing-software-engineers

Lean Construction
http://www.poppendieck.com/construction.htm

Working With Teams
http://www.dexterity.com/articles/working-with-teams.htm

Matthew Lock
Friday, May 21, 2004


My favorites are:

"Dynamics of Software Development" by McCarthy.
"Software Project Survival Guide" by McConnel.
"Rapid Development" by McConnel

McCarthy's book is a very enjoyable read.

I second the recommendation on Cockburn's book. It's a little dry at first, but his ideas on how information flows like air is quite interesting, if not for the fact it's so simple.

I'm ashamed to admit that I've never read Peopleware, but it's normally at the top of the list of recommended reading for running a team.

Mark Hoffman
Friday, May 21, 2004

The question remains - if you don't know about these books, and can't provide your own criticisms of them, let alone understand managing software developers, what on earth are you doing being promoted to that role?

I bet you work for an outsourcer run by accountants or something like that.


Saturday, May 22, 2004

> what on earth are you doing being promoted to that role?

You obviously haven't been in this business long have you?

Matthew Lock
Saturday, May 22, 2004

Read McCarthy's book for entertainment, then throw it into the trash where it belongs. Ditto for the Ed Yourdon books.

Next, read something grounded in reality, such as all of Steve McConnell's books. Then read Meilir Page-Jones, Gerry Weinberg, and Tom DeMarco, who have actually "been there and done that".

Anyone who actually recommends reading Freud in this century is obviously a pretentious, out-of-touch-with-reality maroon who shoulda toined left at Albukoyky!

Is my assertiveness training having any effect? Just wondering...

Data Miner
Saturday, May 22, 2004

>>The question remains - if you don't know about these books, and can't provide your own criticisms of them, let alone understand managing software developers, what on earth are you doing being promoted to that role?

Listen, I'm not entirely sure where your animosity or bitterness is coming from.  I do "know about" a lot of these books ... I own and have read a few that have been mentioned, although as I said, it's been a while.  I'm just looking for some additional recommendations on books I may *not* have heard of.  No, I don't plan to use them as a substitute for forming my own opinions.  Sheesh, give someone the benefit of the doubt before jumping to conclusions and insulting them.

And I assume I was promoted to the role because the people around me support and believe in me.  I don't want to let them down *or* the people I'm going to be leading, that's why I want to do a little due diligence.  If you feel like you can just wing it, more power to you.

Mr. Nobody
Saturday, May 22, 2004

Mr. Nobody - don't mind the trolls. Apparently they can't recognize "research" when they see it.

Good on you for recognizing the tough road ahead and doing your best to prepare for it!

Philo

Philo
Saturday, May 22, 2004


"what on earth are you doing being promoted to that role?"

Most likely because he's shown an aptitude for managing as evidenced by the fact he is asking for recommendations on books so he can learn more about it.

Mark Hoffman
Saturday, May 22, 2004


"Read McCarthy's book for entertainment, then throw it into the trash where it belongs."

What part of McCarthy's books aren't based on experience or good judgement and thusly deserve to be thrown in the trash?

Just curious because I read his book after a couple of years of managing a group of developers and his experiences closely mirrored my own.

Mark Hoffman
Saturday, May 22, 2004

As an anti pattern anything by Scott Adams (Dilbert).  I am amazed at how often his cartoons apply to what is happening around me.

john
Saturday, May 22, 2004


I third the votes for PeopleWare.  IT's _the_ place to start.

I would second votes for Rapid Development and anything by weinberg.

I would add "All of Joel's Complete Archive" and "Mythical Man-Month, Silver Aniversary Edition" by Brooks.

ALSO, DeMarco and Lister wrote "The Deadline" and "Waltzing with bears: Managing risk of software projects."  REALLY GOOD.  I just bought the bears book a few days back and devoured it.

Do you subscribe to better software magazine? www.bettersoftware.com ? You might want to think about it.  It's reasonably priced. (Warning: I wrote an article for Better Software once, so I'm biased. :-) )

Good luck - let us know how it goes ...

Matt H.
Saturday, May 22, 2004

FYI, Matthew Lock, I've been in this business 20 years at all levels and a variety of roles. Mr Nobody sounds like he can't tie his shoes let alone be a serious manager.

One thing you should learn, Mr Nobody, is not to become defensive when you're queried.


Monday, May 24, 2004

Come up with some constructive criticism and you won't see me get defensive.  Continue to take random pot-shots at me for no reason, though, and yeah, I'll be defensive.

Back in your cave, troll.

Mr. Nobody
Monday, May 24, 2004

> Mr Nobody sounds like he can't tie his shoes let alone be a serious manager.

Mr. Nobody is going to do just fine and it's good to see that he's willing to supplement his learning by continuing to read books to understand how to do his job right. Not enough people in the world doing that sort of thing and that's why we have so many bad engineers and bad managers. If Mr. Nobody keeps his learning up and his mind open, he'll do much better than 90% of the fools in management positions today.

Your criticisms of Mr. Nobody are uncalled for, and they only reveal your bitterness and lack of people skills.

> One thing you should learn, Mr Nobody, is not to become defensive when you're queried.

If there is insecurity, it would appear to be with YOU and not Mr. Nobody.

Congratulations Mr. Nobody. I wish you the best of luck. I recently was promoted to a management position myself, and I wasn't sure that I had it all in me. I had read a lot of McConnell, Peopleware, Deathmarch, Weinberg and others in the past, and I reviewed them all again once I was in the roll. I managed to get the project out on time, received kudo's for the job that I was doing from the people on the team, other managers, and HR.

Mark S
Monday, May 24, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home