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Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Design of Design : New book from Fred Brooks

Some time back I blogged about the 'Mythical Man month'. Recently I have started reading the new book from Fred Brooks.' The Design of Design'. Like Mythical Manmonth this book is also a collection of essays and it also a book where you read a chapter and then you need to think and reflect on the ideas/thoughts in the chapter and your own experiences before continuing to next one.

First thing that struck me about this book is Authors gives examples from diverse fields  like music, civil engineer and construction apart from Software. These examples illustrate the author's knowledge about these other fields. I am greatly impressed by the case study about design of auhor's house and kind of design notes that he kept through out the process. I wish I was this systematic.

The book is divided in 6 sections
  1. Models of Designing
    So models of design talks about the 'engineer's view of design, about Water fall model and why it doesn't work and what are possibly better design models.
    In my 15 years of experience, I have never seen 'water fall model' work in practice. However, all the software development processes defined in software companies implicitly assume 'water fall model'. End result is developers hate 'these processes' and organization cannot get expected benefits of process implementation. Someone (I think Albert Einstein) once said that 'Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results'. By this definition, many common software development 'processes' in software companies are 'insane'.
  2. Collaboration and Tele collaboration
    Now a days any significant sized project is about 'collaborating with other' for design, coding/construction, testing etc. In the world of 'outsourced software development', tele-collaboration is increasing critical. As expected, Fred provides some insights on what works and what doesn't.
  3. Design Perspectives
    Talks about various 'views' about the design, user models, aesthetics, constraints, examplars (or design patterns), where things go wrong.
  4. Dream system for design houses.Authors thoughts and ideas for a 'dream system' to design houses and why of those ideas
  5. Great Designers.
    Talks a common argument that software development should be like a 'factory'. Good Product development process will produce 'good designs'. I have heard this argument many times from Software Engineering Process Groups (SEPG) in the companies, CMM and ISO style processes etc.While, Fred argues that 'Great Designs come from Great Designers'. He also goes into the depth of why we need Product processes and how to make product processes that encourage and facilitate great design. I think this is a chapters that every manager should read.
  6. Case studies.
It is not possible to reviews the ideas in this book in one article. So I am hoping to write multiple articles as I assimilate ideas from this book.

1 comment:

MAY said...

'Mythical Man Month' is indeed a great book! I referred this book when I used to teach at Manipal. Ironically, between the time Fred wrote this book and after more than 30 years, the challenges faced during Software Development have not much changed, unlike other engineering disciplines.

Looking forward to read Brooks' new book, thanks for the information.