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Skills and Stars

Decades of research and practical experience has taught us that often more than an order of magnitude in productivity separates the best programmers from the worst, and the best are typically twice as productive as the average ones (DeMarco and Lister 1987). Some groups have dramatically improved quality and productivity by the simple expedient of cutting their programming staff, keeping only the best half. One approach to quality is to take only the very best players, give them all the resources and motivation they need to do the best job, and let them do it. This may be especially appealing in an era of “downsizing.”

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