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Article Analysis: Brooks' Law Repealed? by Steve McConnell

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Article Analysis: Brooks' Law Repealed? by Steve McConnell
Brooks’s Law

Definition: Organizational Behavior defines Brooks’s Law as, “The principle that adding more people to a late software project only makes it later. Also called the mythical man-month” (McShane and Glinow, 2010, p. 237).

Summary: The article entitled, “Brooks 's Law Repealed?”, written by Steve McConnell, sets out to prove that “In spite of Brooks’ Law, adding people to a late project remains commonplace”, and to answer this question, “Is Brooks’s Law the best zeroth-order approximation to the truth?” The author doesn’t think so …

Discussion: “The main problem with teams is that they have additional costs called process losses- resources (including time and energy) expended toward team development and maintenance rather than the task. It is much more efficient for an individual to work out an issue than to resolve differences of opinion with other people.” (McShane and Glinow, 2008, p. 237).
“For more than 20 years, industry experts have been reciting Brooks’ Law as gospel: Adding people to a late software project is like pouring gasoline on a fire--it just makes it later. Twenty years after the initial publication of The Mythical Man-Month, Fred Brooks reiterated that Brooks’ Law was still ‘the best zeroth order approximation to the truth’” (F.P. Brooks, Jr.). “Brooks’ law is based on the idea that communications overhead is a significant factor on software projects, and that work on a software project is not easily partitioned into isolated, independent tasks. Ten people can pick cotton ten times as fast as one person because the work is almost perfectly partitionable, requiring little communication or coordination. But nine women can’t have a baby any faster than one woman can because the work is not partitionable. Brooks argues that work on a software project is more like having a baby than picking cotton. When new staff are brought into a late project, they aren’t immediately productive, and they must be trained. The staff who must



References: McShane, S, & Von Glinow, M. (2010). Organizational Behavior. (5th ed.). BostonL McGraw-Hill Irwin. F.P. Brooks, Jr., The Mythical Man-Month, anniversary ed., Addison-Wesley, Reading, Mass., 1995. McConnell S., IEEE Software,( November/December 1999). Retrieved 9/7/2012 from: http://www.stevemcconnell.com/ieeesoftware/eic08.htm

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