(Originally posted 2003.Apr.04 Fri; links may have expired.)
I don't like hearing people refer to managing programmers as "herding cats". Probably because I am a programmer and I have cats (for a short time, living in a really nice house in a suburb in Texas, my wife and I had five cats).
It is easy to lead cats... in fact, when I'm trying to take a picture of one, it's hard to keep him from following me around. Trying to make cats go somewhere, without leading them, can be very hard, if you don't consider what motivates them.
So when I hear someone comparing programmer management as "herding cats", it makes me think that they're trying to make them go somewhere, not leading them.
A particularly good book on project leadership is Powerful Project Leadership by Wayne Strider. (Order direct or via amazon). It's good enough that I just bought a second copy for lending to others. This book's first lessons in leadership are to help you become aware about yourself, others, and your shared context. In fact, the book is divided into three divisions: leading yourself, leading others, shaping your project's context.
Check out a sample of Wayne's writing here: Leading Projects in Stressful and Chaotic Situations.
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