Review: Antipatterns – Identification, Refactoring, and Management

December 8, 2006 by · 4 Comments 

If you've read my "About" page then you'd know that in addition to working full-time, I'm also a graduate student at Penn State studying Software Engineering. The class I'm currently taking is on Software Project Management and is taught by Dr. Phillip A. Laplante. As a part of this class (which I'm already paying too much for), I was required to buy one of the books the professor wrote. The title of that book is "Antipatterns - Identification, Refactoring, and Management".

I assumed that like most text books that this one would be boring and that the professor was only doing it to make a few extra bucks. I couldn't have possibly been more wrong. As it turns out, he only gets about $0.80 for each book sold (there are only about 20 people in the class), and this is one of the funniest books I've read in a long time.

This book covers 48 common management and environmental practices that plague IT workers and software developers. It happens that many of these also occur in other industries, but they do seem to show up more often in a technical environment, especially those where there is no level of technically-inclined management between technical personnel and upper management.

Each bad practice is covered with a short synopsis, an explanation of the dysfunction (why what is happening doesn't work), a real-world example of the problem (with dialog, some of these are absolutely hilarious), an extended explanation of the problem's causes and consequences, a quick-fix for the situation, a fix for the situation if YOU are the problem, a more detailed list of changes that should be made to remedy the situation, and a simple check list to see if your organization does or does not suffer from the antipattern.

Some of my favorite management antipatterns include the "Cage Match Negotiator" that is always right, the "Leader not Manager" that has great vision but no idea how to get you to achieve it, and "Mushroom Management" where the employees are all kept in the dark as to the end goals of the current project (or even what project they're working on).

The environmental antipatterns are a bit more interesting as they can't really be attributed to a single person. They are more of an organization-wide dysfunction. My favorites of this section are the "Boiling Frog Syndrome" where negative changes are constantly made and aren't noticed until it's too late, "Dogmatic about Dysfunction" where an organization is hopelessly drawn to an incorrect or inefficient process, and the "Dunkirk Spirit" where despite terrible planning and awful decision making, good people get the job done.

This book, while a little on the expensive side if you buy it new, is really a must-have for anyone who is currently employed. If you are a manager then get this book so you can see if you are guilty of following any of these bad habits. If you're not, pick up this book to see exactly why and how you may be getting shafted by the company you work for.

Buy Antipatterns - Identification, Refactoring, and Management @


4 Responses to “Review: Antipatterns – Identification, Refactoring, and Management”
  1. Jason says:

    Just so you know, my grade doesn't go up for having made this post. 🙂

    However, this really is a good book and I'd recommend that you pick it up. If you are going to buy it new, please do so through the link I posted. I can use every dollar I can get to pay for school. If you are interested in a used copy for a few dollars less (no, I'm not selling my copy), post a comment and I'll email you to see if we can work something out on my picking up an extra traded-in copy from the current students (which should be available in the campus bookstore starting next week).

  2. says:

    nice! [IMG][/IMG]

  3. Kalani Benson says:

    Your post had my interest piqued and so I clicked on the link to see the book in Amazon. It is quite expensive for a book, isn't it? And it's ridiculous that the author is getting only $.80 cents for selling it. Where does all that money go?

    On a different note, this does sound like it's going to be a good read. I like the idea of finding humor in an otherwise serious topic.

  4. Mike says:

    Great post. After 4 years, this still holds true in the world of software development. The "Dunkirk Spirit" is actually what keeps these companies running despite poor planning and practices.

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