Signs of Triviality

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Required Reading: The Mythical Man Month and Peopleware

January 4th, 2019

If you're working in tech -- an illusion: you're in the human communications business! -- there are two books you should read, regardless of your career path or level. If you've already read them, you should re-read them. I last read them maybe 18 years ago, but I've referenced the lessons consciously and unconsciously on a regular basis. They are:

Book Cover: The Mythical Man Month Book Cover: Peopleware
The Mythical Man Month
by Frederick P Brooks, Jr.
Peopleware : Productive Projects and Teams
by Tom DeMarco & Timothy R Lister

Both of these books are "old". Both are still not just relevant, but spot-on. And both are short and a pleasure to read.

The more experience I gain, the more I keep coming back to concepts I remember having first learned about from them. Cleaning out a stack of old computer books, I started to re-read them once more, and again I find myself vigorously nodding, recognizing current and former projects, teams, and patterns. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

You should read these books if you're a manager, but you should also read them if you're an individual contributor. Internalizing the lessons will make you a better people manager just as it will make you a better software engineer or infrastructure architect or SysAdmin or whatever title you may prefer.

You should read these books if you're early in your career to better understand the field you just entered. You should read these books if you're midway in your career to better understand what you've experienced so far. And you should certainly re-read them if you're in a senior position to help you re-evaluate your previous successes and failures and to see how you can help others improve.

Oh, and remember: reading books like this is part of your job. Give them to your manager/reports, while you're at it.

January 4th, 2019


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