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If you do any sort

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 14, 2001

If you do any sort of Web or software development, I would encourage you to read The Mythical Man-Month by Frederick Brooks. It’s over 25 years old and most of the technology it talks about is beyond obsolete, but that’s OK because it’s not a book about technology…it’s about people and management and information flow and all the other non-technological aspects of software development. Brooks goes beyond describing any specific process, instead giving us a roadmap (a pattern, if you will) for the development of a process that fits the specific needs of a company or team. Some salient points from the book:

- The mythical man-month: “The second fallacious thought mode is expressed in the very unit of effort used in estimating and scheduling: the man-month. Cost does indeed vary as the product of the number of men and the number of months. Progress does not. Hence the man-month as a unit for measuring the size of a job is a dangerous and deceptive myth. It implies that men and months are interchangeable.”

- The other main point Brooks makes is that large software projects are fundamentally different than small projects, and for them to succeed, a sizable effort needs to be made to preserve the conceptual integrity of the end product by whatever means necessary.