October 3, 2019

The Mythical Man-Month (Independent Subtasks, Too!)

  —The Mythical Man-Month on independent subtasks.

In The Mythical Man-Month (Worth Reading Again), I describe the value of re-reading this classic essay.

Some people on team are fond of quoting Brook’s statement that “the bearing of a child takes nine months, no matter how many women are assigned the task”. Unfortunately, they use this statement to deflect analysis on a work breakdown to determine the number optimal number of people on their projects. That’s disappointing on many levels.

It’s an example where the wisdom in Brook’s essay is only partially understood or remembered. It impedes the creation of optimal schedules.

Brook’s clearly points out that adding more people to a late project makes it later. He points out that you should resource your schedules so that the number of people equals the number of independent substasks. Then decide if you want to adjust the number of people on the project.

I am disappointed that people don’t seem to read the full extent of his essay. It is worth reading again. And again. Or at least until someone says they’s reached the optimal number of subtasks in a work breakdown.

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