Mini Book Review: Adrenaline Junkies and Template Zombies

Adrenaline Junkies and Template Zombies: Understanding Patterns of Project Behavior by Tom Demarco, Peter Hruschka, Tim Lister, Suzanne Robertson, James Robertson, Steve McMenamin

This book looks like light reading initially, but it's not. Sure, the patterns are mostly anti-patterns and some are fun to read, especially when you experienced them yourself. But there's another level here - you should take these patterns seriously. They are, after all, based on real-life experiences of the authors.

Most of the patterns are negative ones, i.e. typical failures, traps, wrong approaches, etc. but there are also some (too few!) positive ones, e.g. The Nanny. This alone should tell you that there's something wrong in too many companies in our industry.

You probably (hopefully!) won't recognize all of the patterns, meaning that there are some mistakes your company hasn't made (yet?). Keep those in mind, so that you can recognize them early on.

I guess the book can be somewhat frustrating if you recognize a lot of the (negative) patterns in here. Otherwise, it can help you realize that you're not alone - and that things could be worse.

Each pattern comes with a short analysis that can serve as a starting point to overcome the problem. Overall, however, the book concentrates on documenting the patterns and drawing attention to them but not so much on resolving the problems. As such, Fearless Change may be a good followup read if you want to change your organization.

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