View of The Product Team As A Rock Band
"This amazing book is a Tom Petty biography (and it's great on that account) but it's far more than that. It's an X-ray of the most fragile, most volatile, and most sublime social unit ever invented: the rock-and-roll band. The alliances, the distortions, the deep bruises and the absurd elations that can never be explained to an outsider. Sure, Petty is a book about a rock band but it's really a book about being human - how we meet and collaborate, break up and make up, learn to trust (or not) and, once in a lucky while, sing as loud as we can. It's a masterpiece.”
If the rock-and-roll band is "the most fragile, most volatile, and most sublime social unit every invented" the software development product team is somewhere in the top 10 of that category.
I've never been part of a rock band, but I have worked with many software development teams. Software developers come in all shapes and sizes, so I'll not try to apply a general classification to the team members, but many of them are bright, creative, individualistic people who take pride in their craft and enjoy doing what they do. This description would seem to apply to many band members as well.
I imagine a successful rock band has accomplished some of the same things as a successful software development team, including:
- Learning to collaborate and cooperate as a unit more than as a collection of individuals
- Balancing the desire for innovation and unbridled creativity with the imperative to produce something
- Finding the right place for each member of the team in the social unit of the team
- Deciding at a point in time that the team's creation is good enough to release, and that delaying the release to make further refinements is not warranted
- Maintaining a healthy sense of self-worth while absorbing pointed, often unjustified criticism
- Trusting each other enough to put ideas out there to the group for discussion and debate
- Recognizing that what has been released is good but can be improved upon, and that what will be released in the future will be different
Update on July 31: I've finally finished the book. Here's one of many choice quotes:
From Elliot Roberts, one of the band's managers over their lifespan, about making it clear to the band in their early days that Tom's vision was preeminent: "It was Tom's vision I was concerned with, not their vision. I don't believe in equal opinion, I believe in best opinion."