In Adrenaline Junkies and Template Zombies, the six principal consultants of The Atlantic Systems Guild present the patterns of behavior they most often observe at the dozens of IT firms they transform each year, around the world.
The result is a quick-read guide to identifying nearly ninety typical scenarios, drawing on a combined one-hundred-and-fifty years of project management experience. Project by project, you'll improve the accuracy of your hunches and your ability to act on them.
Project behavior patterns are clues to understanding what otherwise can only be mysterious. This book is a starter kit to help you make sense of the human element in group endeavors. If you do project work, you need to know about:
Project Sluts—managers can say no
Soviet Style—building the product no one can love
Hidden Beauty—an ethic that drive great developers
News Improvement—status gets rosier as it rises in the organization
Dead Fish—learning to appreciate project odor
Not every pattern will be evident in your organization, and not every pattern is necessarily good or bad. However, you'll find many patterns that will apply to your current and future assignments, even in the most ambiguous circumstances. When you assess your situation and follow your next hunch, you'll have the collective wisdom of six world-class consultants at your side.
Review By: Steve Berczuk 04/01/2011When looking at a list of organizational practices and malpractices, it's easy to convince yourself that your team is doing all the right things and none of the amusing, yet destructive things possible. But when reading stories about the patterns of behavior, it's much easier to relate to and see yourself objectively, for better or for worse. Adrenaline Junkies and Template Zombies: Understanding Patterns Project Behavior describes eighty-six common organizational behaviors in a concise and entertaining way using stories, guidelines, and metaphors. This approach makes it easy for readers to identify with similar situations in present or past organizations, and to remember them.
One of the best parts of the book is how well each chapter title reflects the key ideas within that chapter, which allows you to easily remember ideas and share them with others. For example, the chapter titled "No Hands Meeting" describes the open, all-hands meeting where participation is asked for but not really desired. "Fridge Door" describes the value of ad-hoc information radiators. Often the titles for the "anti-patterns" are more amusing and memorable than those for positive behaviors. But that's OK since you really want to keep the things not to do in mind, lest you fall into bad habits.
The authors describe the patterns in the book as Patterns in the sense of Christoper Alexander's patterns, an approach which has also been used in the software development community to describe software architecture, engineering practices, and organizational behavior. All of the chapters have many qualities of good Patterns, some have all, but the chapters in this book are missing context and the connections between the patterns that make patterns and pattern languages powerful tools. Fans of patterns and pattern languages may be a bit disappointed. Nevertheless, the material in this book is extremely valuable, are all patterns in the conventional sense of the work, and only a small step away from being truly excellent Patterns in the sense of Alexander's patterns.
Managers, developers, and students of organizational behavior will enjoy reading this book and may want a copy around for reference. Those with more experience may find that the patterns resonate with them, and those newer to software development will get an idea of what to expect in team dynamics. Like many great books, you stand to learn much from the experience of the authors while being entertained and amused.