Published here December, 2006.  

Introduction | Book Structure | What We Liked in Parts 1 & 2
What We Liked in Parts 3 & 4 | Downside | Summary


We strongly believe that there is a distinct difference between the knowledge required to manage a project and the knowledge required to manage the technology vested in the project. The former is much more universal or "generic", but the latter is certainly not. The latter even varies from industry to industry, indeed from company to company. How else could there be market competition?

So, this book is one of the few we've seen that is for software development professionals charged with managing software development projects. It provides valuable insights into what project managers need to know about the technology in order to effectively manage such projects. Joe's last piece of good advice is worth repeating here - what to do when you are looking for a job and opportunity knocks:

"The last item on my agenda is advice about what to do when you are looking for a job. I believe, strongly, that the biggest single factor contributing to your happiness and success in any company is how comfortable you feel with its culture and values. Almost every other variable in the equation can and will change over time: your role, your responsibilities, your direct supervisor, your organization, and your compensation. Problems in any of these areas can be addressed and fixed over time."
"But if there is a fundamental incompatibility between the existing culture and your idea of what constitutes a good culture and healthy values, you will be working against something that will nag at you every day in good times and totally sink you in bad times. Remember that cultures and values change very, very, slowly. The odds are better that you will gradually adapt to the culture than that the culture will change in a direction to your liking. So unless you really enjoy swimming against the tide, look for compatibility."
"How do you discover a company's true culture and values? The best way is to talk with current employees and recent ex-employees. Ask them to speak candidly about what they like and don't like. And during your formal interviewing process with the company, do two things. First, calibrate how important culture and values are by seeing whether your interviewers ask questions to determine the fit between you and their organization. If they never ask you one question in this area, beware. It means that either they are sloppy in their recruiting, or the corporate culture is extremely weak."
"Second, when it is your turn to ask questions, spend as much time as you can getting them to talk about culture and values. Don't be afraid to put them on the spot; for example, ask them flat-out what is the single most important value in the company, or what is the defining attribute of the most successful employee in the company. If they have the right culture and values, they will understand why you are asking, and will interpret your efforts as 'serious buying' questions. If you get a consistent, coherent story from almost all the people you talk to, there is reason to believe that the culture is strong: The 'code' is visible to all and understood in the same way by most. Once you have established that there is a strong culture, seeing whether your own values align with it should be somewhat easier."

Good advice indeed.

R. Max Wideman
Fellow, PMI

Downside  Downside

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