Adrenaline Junkies and Template Zombies

or Understanding Patterns of Project Behavior

AdrenalineJunkiesis a new book in my library. I have got it recently at my travels and start to read in instantly. It made me laugh, it made me (almost) cry, and it made me think and reflect, too.  Looking back at our projects, I try to imagine situations, where some of these patterns could be visible, what we did around them and what we could do better.

This book of some 250 pages, written by principals of the Atlantic Systems Guild, describes 86 patterns, that authors noticed at their projects during their “150 years of collective experience”, nicely described in catalogue way. Authors do not state, that the list is complete. They share their observation, how pattern can be observed, what might be its underlying problems and whether it brings positive or negative impact both in short term and long term. Titles like Mañana, I do not know, Nanny, Dead Fish, Soviet style, Project Sluts or Poker Night say it all. Adrenaline Junkies, Shipping on Time Every Time or Film Critics are among my favorite. Let me invite you into short excursion:

Phone rings.

   “We really have to fix a requirement specs this week. Can you come to see, what you could do with it?”

   “What is wrong with specs?”

   “We are in a hurry, so we got a bunch of new hires to write it. We think they do not know what they are doing”.

   “But wouldn’t it be more productive to teach them to write requirements?”

   “We do not have time, we need specification this week”

   “OK, I will come tomorrow.”

Two hours later.

   “Can you come and look at our estimates?”

   “What happened to specification?”

   “We do not have time. We will go ahead with requirements as they are. My boss wants the estimates to be handed in today…”.

In organizations with characteristics of adrenaline junkies, priorities are constantly shifting. Everything is needed “yesterday”. There is never enough project time before delivery, every project is urgent, and the urgent projects keep coming. Everybody are frantically busy all the time. People in these organizations do not think strategically……

There is plenty of more patterns in the book, many of which you could observe at your project yourself. Or you can add some more based on your own experience. In all cases, you will find a lot of interesting ideas and inspiration, how to deal with situations if patterns are recognized. If you are keen of project management or organizational improvements, I can fully recommend the book to you.


Book description 

Title: Adrenaline Junkies and Template Zombies: Understanding Patterns of Project Behavior

Authors: Tom Demarco, Peter Hruschka, Tim Lister, Steve McMenamin, Suzanne Robertson, James Robertson

Pages: 248

ISBN-13: 978-0932633675


About author: Michal Vallo helps managers to understand agile techniques, benefit from its adoption to their organizations and consequently radically improve organizational overall performance. He is principal, agile trainer, coach and manager at Aguarra, founding member of Agilia community and organizer of Agilia Conference in Brno and Agilia Budapest Conference.