Chapter 3. The Surgical Team

These studies revealed large individual differences between high and low performers, often by an order of magnitude.SACKMAN, ERIKSON, AND GRANT[1]

At computer society meetings one continually hears young programming managers assert that they favor a small, sharp team of first-class people, rather than a project with hundreds of programmers, and those by implication mediocre. So do we all.

But this naive statement of the alternatives avoids the hard problem—how does one build large systems on a meaningful schedule? Let us look at each side of this question in more detail.

The Problem

Programming managers have long recognized wide productivity variations between good programmers and poor ones. But the actual measured ...

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