Adrenaline Junkies and Template Zombies: Understanding Patterns of Project Behavior

The latest work by Tom DeMarco, Peter Hruschka, Tim Lister, Steve McMenamin, James Robertson and Suzanne Robertson has now been published in the US by Dorset House. Order through Dorset House Publishing or alternately through Amazon. There is also a Kindle Edition.

The German edition, Adrenalin-Junkies und Formular-Zombies - Typisches Verhalten in Projekten is available now from Hanser Verlag. Alternately you can order through Amazon.de. Adrenaline Junkies and Template Zombies

"Brilliantly insightful. At one moment you'll think 'Darn, I do that... We're toast' followed quickly by the reassurance of 'I'm not the only one. There's hope!'" —Howard Look, VP, Software, Pixar Animation Studios

Why does it matter?

We have learned over the past decade to pay serious attention to patterns. This is largely thanks to the architect Christopher Alexander and his IT counterparts Erich Gamma, Richard Helm, Ralph Johnson, and John M. Vlissides, who wrote the first serious implementation patterns book, Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software.

"Who else but these particular authors can mine 150 years of software team experience to capture memorable names for oft-encountered situations? I suspect you will start using these phrases in your work – I already have." —Alistair Cockburn, Author of Agile Software Development

The so-called "patterns movement," has so far concentrated entirely on patterns of the software itself. But there is another set of patterns that we need to take account of as well: patterns of projects and teams, the typical ways that they behave and interact. Just as Gamma et al deal with the technological aspect of patterns, the Guild authors have focused on the sociological side. If you believe, as we do, that the sociological is often as important or even more important than the technological, then this book may be for you.

The method:

The book identifies 86 patterns that characterize project and team behavior. All of the patterns don't apply to your project, but some surely will. Some of the patterns are constructive – they help you get meaningful work done. And other are destructive – they get in your way. Like many of the patterns that control our behavior as individuals, project behavior patterns are often invisible. They are the unwritten rules that govern us. We don't think about them, but we don't think to violate them either. (Are you skeptical about the existence of such unwritten rules? Consider then walking up to a team mate and touching his face.)

"The 86 project patterns are grimly familiar to anyone who has worked in project-related organizations. Fortunately, some of the patterns are good ones, and should be encouraged. Sadly, though, many of the others are not only depressingly familiar, but astonishingly destructive to productivity, quality, and the morale of the project team." — Ed Yourdon, Author of Death March

Each pattern is named (the authors have tried to choose a name that is memorable but also fairly accurate) and numbered. There is an iconic graphic to go with it, something to facilitate quick association. And there is a short essay about the pattern to offer advice about why some projects tend to fall into its particular groove, why they need to be aware of it, and what actions may be prescribed.

The free sample:

Intrigued enough to invest a few minutes of your time? Download the sample pdf.
Or order now from Dorset House or from Amazon.

"The lessons in this wonderful book are applicable to anyone running any kind of project based organization—just about every organization. The metaphors are funny in that kind of tragicfunny you've been there kind of way. You will recognize the common pathologies of projects everywhere. With a dose of courage and this book in hand, you will be able to create a healthy project environment where people can thrive and still deliver consistent results." —Lynne Ellyn, Sr.Vice President and CIO, DTE Energy

The 86 patterns:

1 Adrenaline Junkies
44
Blue Zone
2 Rattle Yer Dags
45
News Improvement
3 Dead Fish
46
Telling the Truth Slowly
4 Happy, clappy meetings
47
Practicing Endgame
5 Nanny
48
The Music Makers
6 Referred Pain
49
Journalists
7 Mañana
50
The Empty Chair
8 Eye Contact
51
My Cousin Vinny
9 Management by Mood Ring
52
Feature soup
10 True Believer
53
Data Qualty
11 Lease Your Soul
54
Ben
12 System Development Lemming Cycle
55
Miss Manners
13 No Bench
56
Undivided Attention
14 Face Time
57
There is No Crying in Baseball
15 Chisel
58
Cool Hand Luke
16 Dashboards
59
Shipping On-Time Every Time
17 Endless Huddle
60
Food++
18 Young Pups and Old Dogs
61
Orphaned Deliverables
19 Film Critics
62
Hidden Beauty
20 One throat to choke
63
I don't know
Project Speak
64
Children of Lake Wobegon
21 Soviet Technology
65
Co-Education
22 Natural Authority
66
Seelenverwandtschaft
23 The too quiet office
67
Phillips Head
24 The White Line
68
Predicting Innovation
25 Silence Gives Consent
69
Marilyn Munster
26 Strawman
Cutting Room Floor
27 Counterfeit Urgency
70
Brownie In Motion
28 Time Removes Cards From Your Hand
71
Loud and Clear
29 Lewis & Clark
72
Safety Valve
30 Short Pencil
73
Babel
31 Rhythm
74
Surprise!
32 The Overtime Predictor
75
Fridge Door
33 Poker Night
76
The sun'll come out tomorrow
34 False Quality Gates
77
Piling on
35 Testing before Testing
78
Seasons for Change
36 Cider House Rules
79
Paper Mill
37 Talk then Write
80
Offshore Follies
38 Project Sluts
81
War Rooms
39 Atlas
82
What Smell?
40 People Wear Clothes For a Reason
83
Lessons Unlearned
41 Peer Preview
84
Sanctity of the Half-Baked Idea
42 Snorkeling and Scuba Diving
85
Leakage
43 It's always the goddamn interfaces
86
Template Zombies