January 13, 2006

News & Opinion: Project Management 1975-style

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 4:35 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

In a prior life, I worked as a project manager on a large enterprise software project. I was brought in as the functional guy on the project. I had no experience really in IT outside of building a Excel spreadsheet. As we were starting the project, we brought in a project management trainer and one of the first things he talked about was Brooks' law -- Adding people late to a software project makes it later.

In the recent leadership issue of Fortune, Daniel Roth interviews the Fred Brooks. Fred worked at IBM and managed the development of the System/360 computers and OS/360 software. In 1975, he published a book called The Mythical Man-Month, where he details all of the things he learned.

One of the interesting things about the book is the wide acceptance it has found outside the software community. Brooks says in the Q&A:
Surprisingly enough, a partner in a big law firm said, "Oh, this describes our practice." I've had physicians say the same. It's really about people and people in teams: the communications problems, the scheduling problems, the estimating problems.

About Dylan Schleicher

Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.