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Waltzing with Bears: Managing Risk on Software Projects (Dorset House eBooks)

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The authors, consultants in risk and management, show how to identify and embrace worthwhile risks in software development and offer strategies for common risks that software projects face, such as schedule flaws, requirements inflation, and specification breakdown. Annotation (c)2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR


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The authors, consultants in risk and management, show how to identify and embrace worthwhile risks in software development and offer strategies for common risks that software projects face, such as schedule flaws, requirements inflation, and specification breakdown. Annotation (c)2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR

30 review for Waltzing with Bears: Managing Risk on Software Projects (Dorset House eBooks)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jean Tessier

    The guys from Peopleware are at it again. This time, they tackle the management attitude that plays the ostrich and keeps its head in the sand, denying reality instead of facing it. They are making a case for knowing what risks lie ahead, how to notice them, and how to prepare for their possible occurrence. In their usual style, the authors keep things light and simple, yet offer quick and easy rules to get you going. The book is peppered with anecdotes taken from their professional experience. Y The guys from Peopleware are at it again. This time, they tackle the management attitude that plays the ostrich and keeps its head in the sand, denying reality instead of facing it. They are making a case for knowing what risks lie ahead, how to notice them, and how to prepare for their possible occurrence. In their usual style, the authors keep things light and simple, yet offer quick and easy rules to get you going. The book is peppered with anecdotes taken from their professional experience. You can start applying the advice from the book immediately and get results right away. Their approach to quantifying risk through simulation has its detractors (see reader comments on Amazon), but I think the very simple act of listings the risks and their associated contingencies (what to do when a risk manifests itself) and mediation (preparation ahead of time) are already a big step forward from mere wishful thinking. It helped me keep some of these risks in mind and stay on the lookout for their manifestation. I, too, would question a proposition that says: the math for this is too complicated for you, but trust our handy little Excel spreadsheet. But the book is still very much worth the read and contains a lot of fair advice.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Paolo Bizzarri

    Very good book. Lots of interesting advices on risk management for software projects. A bit outdated, since now many of the practices are part of the standard for software industry, but very good otherwise.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Richard Wu

    Found this book lying around the office. Picked it up - quick read, clear language. The theory (first half) is more interesting than the suggested praxis (second half). A major weakness of the book is its complete failure to address Parkinson's Law, which was proposed in 1955, is a legitimate phenomenon, and undermines large swathes of the proposals laid here. I find it hard to believe that the authors, being seasoned experts in management science, were unaware of its existence, and thus charge t Found this book lying around the office. Picked it up - quick read, clear language. The theory (first half) is more interesting than the suggested praxis (second half). A major weakness of the book is its complete failure to address Parkinson's Law, which was proposed in 1955, is a legitimate phenomenon, and undermines large swathes of the proposals laid here. I find it hard to believe that the authors, being seasoned experts in management science, were unaware of its existence, and thus charge them with the sin of avoidance, described on page 63: "You avoid a risk when you don't do the project or the part of the project that entails the risk." That being said, even if you're not a software project manager, I think risk management is a useful framework for your personal life as its principles make intuitive sense. It might not be a bad idea to give the first half a whirl. P.S. William Kingdon Clifford's essay, The Ethics of Belief, in Appendix A was quite good. Here it is, in its entirety. Quotes "A risk is a problem that has yet to occur, and a problem is a risk that has already materialized.” [p.17] “The opposite of risk management is reckless management. It makes your organization all offense and no defense. Your only winning strategy with that combination is to catch every conceivable lucky break. When luck becomes an integral part of your strategy, you know you’re in trouble.” [p.34]

  4. 5 out of 5

    Tomas Urbonaitis

    Great book on project risk management - I wish more managers would read it AND use ideas expressed here in practice. The only issue, that I have, is that it relies quite heavily on upfront planning (although it stresses the importance of incremental delivery) - but I guess it is a necessity, if you want to manage risks, as opposed to "just do it and see how it goes". Great book on project risk management - I wish more managers would read it AND use ideas expressed here in practice. The only issue, that I have, is that it relies quite heavily on upfront planning (although it stresses the importance of incremental delivery) - but I guess it is a necessity, if you want to manage risks, as opposed to "just do it and see how it goes".

  5. 5 out of 5

    Michał Węgrzyn

    I usually devour books like that, but this title made me change my tactics. I was deliberate in reading only a few pages since this book is full of great insights and I wanted to spend more time and meditate on the most important topics. Great read.

  6. 5 out of 5

    John

    I was hopeful after Peopleware, but they lost me pretty early with "get a copy of our project management spreadsheet". Consultants and optimists! I was hopeful after Peopleware, but they lost me pretty early with "get a copy of our project management spreadsheet". Consultants and optimists!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Christoph Kappel

    This is a tough one to rate. The whole topic is kind of interesting with lots of funny anecdotes and real world stories, but there is a BUT: There are lots if diagrams (which took me a bit time to understand) and many formal rules how to do risk management, mitigation and so on, but still I'd like to see a real world example. Just to keep funds and people at the ready is a weird approach. So I enjoy examples how to make an unrelated diagram about running like any of you, but something real-worldy This is a tough one to rate. The whole topic is kind of interesting with lots of funny anecdotes and real world stories, but there is a BUT: There are lots if diagrams (which took me a bit time to understand) and many formal rules how to do risk management, mitigation and so on, but still I'd like to see a real world example. Just to keep funds and people at the ready is a weird approach. So I enjoy examples how to make an unrelated diagram about running like any of you, but something real-worldy would be nice.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Edward

    Interesting materials on the first half of the book

  9. 5 out of 5

    Aleksey Abramov

    Classic

  10. 5 out of 5

    Waldemar Neto

    Good read with great real-life examples but seems like most of the concerns have been addressed by the Agile era.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dario

    Basic risk management introduction for IT projects, that challenges the delusionary optimistic can do mantra of so many companies. It is very useful to become aware of technical risks and the importance to raise them early and manage them, along with a number of approaches to minimise those risks. Also acquiring the basic risk management vocabulary helps understand the problems from the business perspective and helps us technical people be better aligned with the company objectives (i.e. financi Basic risk management introduction for IT projects, that challenges the delusionary optimistic can do mantra of so many companies. It is very useful to become aware of technical risks and the importance to raise them early and manage them, along with a number of approaches to minimise those risks. Also acquiring the basic risk management vocabulary helps understand the problems from the business perspective and helps us technical people be better aligned with the company objectives (i.e. financial success, sustainable growth). By uncovering the reasons why people choose more or less consciously to NOT manage risks, the author sheds a light onto some of the dysfunction of a typical IT organisation. The prescriptive part (a risk management process) is more useful to managers, however, it was interesting to note that no such process was used at all in any of the companies I worked for in the past.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    Has some interesting observations about why nearly all software projects run late, and why most organizations do a terrible job at managing risk. It also presents a model for estimating risks and their probable impact to your project schedule - which seems like it ought to be very useful, but I haven't figured out how to put it into any sort of practice in my own projects. Part of the issue is that the model assumes that you have a pretty good method in place for estimating how long things ought Has some interesting observations about why nearly all software projects run late, and why most organizations do a terrible job at managing risk. It also presents a model for estimating risks and their probable impact to your project schedule - which seems like it ought to be very useful, but I haven't figured out how to put it into any sort of practice in my own projects. Part of the issue is that the model assumes that you have a pretty good method in place for estimating how long things ought to take in the best case scenario, and just getting those basic estimates is still something I have a great deal of trouble with. I'm going to come back to this book and read it again after I've brushed up on some more basic project management and schedule estimating skills. I expect that then I might get more out of it.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Good but not as good as Peopleware, this book talks frankly about managing risk in intellectual projects with unflinching honesty, and does a lot to attack various corporate cultures where downplaying and minimizing risks takes hold, putting blinders on everyone and often leading to disaster. A lot of this stuff is intuitive and can basically be boiled down to saying "Oh for heaven's sake, just use your brain and apply real world thought to business decisions" which sadly, often needs saying. And Good but not as good as Peopleware, this book talks frankly about managing risk in intellectual projects with unflinching honesty, and does a lot to attack various corporate cultures where downplaying and minimizing risks takes hold, putting blinders on everyone and often leading to disaster. A lot of this stuff is intuitive and can basically be boiled down to saying "Oh for heaven's sake, just use your brain and apply real world thought to business decisions" which sadly, often needs saying. And repeating.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Evan Leybourn

    Too many organisations to not understand how to identify, treat and mitigate risks. And those that do, often overcompensate. Waltzing with Bears takes readers on a journey of risk and risk management in a very entertaining and enlightening way. My only criticism of the book; in many places Tom doesn't support his statements with sufficient evidence. Any much of the evidence that is put forward in anecdotal, qualitative or statistically insignificant. That being said, I would recommend this book t Too many organisations to not understand how to identify, treat and mitigate risks. And those that do, often overcompensate. Waltzing with Bears takes readers on a journey of risk and risk management in a very entertaining and enlightening way. My only criticism of the book; in many places Tom doesn't support his statements with sufficient evidence. Any much of the evidence that is put forward in anecdotal, qualitative or statistically insignificant. That being said, I would recommend this book to any new software or project manager.

  15. 4 out of 5

    A.

    I've read this book in connection with work-related stuff (pushing my little project at work) - I found this book more honest on dirty-laundry of software projects than usual books on project management. But here and there it was not enough for my needs, hence if you are new to software/systems project management and looking for more information - READ this book BUT don't stop on it, look for other books too. I've read this book in connection with work-related stuff (pushing my little project at work) - I found this book more honest on dirty-laundry of software projects than usual books on project management. But here and there it was not enough for my needs, hence if you are new to software/systems project management and looking for more information - READ this book BUT don't stop on it, look for other books too.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bjørn Taranger

    The book argues the case that software projects need to address the risks associated with the project in a structured an methodical manner. Risks are always present, and those that you ignore will occasionally hit you hard. I find the basic premise of the book quite convincing and relevant. I also believe that some of the practical steps recommended in the book have been superseded by the agile methodologies that are dominating the field nowadays.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Johnny

    A quick read on managing risks you should not miss. Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister put the important aspects in a little book that is not going to bore you with much theory. If you want to go deeper in the theoretical fundaments, then you find all the references you need. If you don’t want to go down that rabbit hole, you can follow along and get a well written explanation on what you should look out for, how to gather risks and what your job is to manage them.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kristjan

    This was classical DeMarco and Lister - statements made more than 10 years ago, still being valid for the industry :) Highly enjoyable read and full of straight to the point statements. I would have only hoped, that chapter 19 (Value is uncertain, too), chapter 21 (Value offsets risk would have been longer.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Marcin

    Wow! This book talks so perfectly well about risk and uncertainty and exposes why we don't do it on IT projects and what are the repercussions. DeMarco and Lister really understand how and why agile works and this was in 2003. Most organisation as still way behind their thinking. Wow! This book talks so perfectly well about risk and uncertainty and exposes why we don't do it on IT projects and what are the repercussions. DeMarco and Lister really understand how and why agile works and this was in 2003. Most organisation as still way behind their thinking.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sergey Zubov

    The first half of the book that contains common information about risk management is great. But the second one that teaches how risk management should be performed seems a bit outdated. If you aren't a big fan of waterfall-like processes, you'd better skip the second part. The first half of the book that contains common information about risk management is great. But the second one that teaches how risk management should be performed seems a bit outdated. If you aren't a big fan of waterfall-like processes, you'd better skip the second part.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Bobby Ratliff

    Intersection of corporate culture and project management. In your company is it safe to talk about risks in a realistic way? DeMarco and Lister examine failed projects and techniques to manage risk better.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lachlan

    An amazing book on software risk management.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sean

    NULL

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ken

    A great inteoduction to managing risk in any project, team, or as an individual.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    Some good ideas. However, it fails to take into consideration certain essential concepts such as Parkinson's Law and Student Syndrome. I still prefer the more holistic approaches of TOC and CCPM. Some good ideas. However, it fails to take into consideration certain essential concepts such as Parkinson's Law and Student Syndrome. I still prefer the more holistic approaches of TOC and CCPM.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Dmitry

    easy to read and small enough to read on a weekend

  27. 4 out of 5

    Alan

    The best book I've ever read on the real world of software project management. Explains risk management in clear-eyed, comprehensible terms. And yeah, the title is a Dr. Seuss reference. The best book I've ever read on the real world of software project management. Explains risk management in clear-eyed, comprehensible terms. And yeah, the title is a Dr. Seuss reference.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Dalton

    Interesting book with some pragmatic advice for anyone that manages software projects.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Andy

    Good book full of practical examples and techniques around risk management. Formal, but still accessible.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jake Spencer

    Best book on software risk management I've ever read... Best book on software risk management I've ever read...

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