A Review of "Adrenaline Junkies and Template Zombies"

by Tom DeMarco, Peter Hruschka, Tim Lister, Steve McMenamin, James Robertson, Suzanne Robertson

Dwayne Phillips

Revision History
Revision 1.0 27 March 2008

I love this book. It is as though the authors were spying on my office for the past 20 years.

This is a collect of 80-something project patterns. Some of the patterns are good, but most are bad. Each pattern has a title, a one-sentence summary, two or three pages of description, and one outstanding drawing or photograph. The names are easy to remember and descriptive, the descriptions concise and biting. I bit my tongue and gritted my teeth while reading through them.

The title contains two of the pattersn. The first pattern is "Adrenaline Junkies" - the place I worked in 1986 where every thing is urgent and must be started now and no one eats or sleeps until it is done. The last pattern "Template Zombies" - the place I worked in 1996 where every thing is a template that must be filled without any thought. Working complex projects without any thought - not a good idea.

Two patterns angered me so much that I wanted to tear out the pages. "Happy Clappy Meetings" is about when a senior manager holds an "all hands" meeting and asks for questions, any questions. I asked a question at one such meeting in 1992. Just as the book predicts, the day after I was shot by my local managers and never invited to an all hands meeting again. The second one is "Silence Gives Consent." I once attended a meeting where I disagreed, but did not voice it until a few days later. The person running the meeting took silence as consent. This didn't work out well for either of us, especially for my.

Flip through this book. Find a pattern - either good or bad - that fits your current project, bring the book to work and show people that your workplace is not unique, that others have done the same before, and what the result will probably be if you don't change.