The Mythical Man Month

In Book Reviews by Hoani Bryson

  • Frederick Brooks, Jr.
  • Software Management/Management
  • Anyone
  • 320 pages



This book is strangely popular among management types outside of software engineering. I am guessing they skip to Chapter 2, read it and then say “brilliant, I knew it all along” and start quoting Brooks’ law whenever the opportunity arrives.

Brooks Law is insightful. There are other concepts within the essays of this book which are just as insightful. Unfortunately, there are also essays which contain baseless assumptions or make claims derived only from experience.

Despite these criticisms, the essays take a unique approach when examining software and software management. Brooks brings out the philosophy in No Silver Bullet, breaking apart the discipline of what software work actually is and whether the industry can be improved upon. The Tar Pit starts off strong analyzing the difference between software that runs versus software that is salable as a product. The ideas around conceptual integrity, prototyping and the second system effect are of particular interest to anyone who designs software. Most of these ideas are certain to extend to other fields.

For anyone in project management, this book has a few difficult pills to swallow. Read it and avoid the inevitable pit falls of developing an intangible product.