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Chapter 16. Having It All > Management Models

Management Models

Actually, real programming groups provide an abundance of messy mixtures and mongrel models, but, although some of them are more successful than others, most are either trial-and-error patchworks or are based on management models from other fields. We would like to have a project teamwork model tailored to software development, one in which the predictability of organized and established procedures and the simple accountability you get when one person is in charge are combined with the high visibility and potential for creative consensus of free-wheeling collaboration.

Coming from different points of view and working independently on different continents, Australian consultant Rob Thomsett and I both tackled this problem and designed similar solutions (Thomsett 1990; Constantine 1989, 1991a). Software teams may work best when they are carefully structured to make open collaboration and consensus engineering more efficient and manageable. This “structured open” approach combines elements of the traditional closed and collaborative open teamwork models. The team is a traditional hierarchy as viewed from outside—a single project leader is held accountable—but internally it functions as a collaborative community of peers. There are well-defined roles within the team, but these are rotated among members. There are rules and formal procedures, but these are devised to promote free exploration and consensus building. Every aspect of this approach has been designed to offset shortcomings of one model with features borrowed from the other. Nothing is fundamentally new in the Constantine-Thomsett model, but the combination is interesting in its own right.


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