There should be an image here!You can argue about practices until you’re blue in the face — such as when is the correct time to do requirements gathering, or how do you make a project more or less agile — but that’s not where the real meat of the work happens. “How you make those decisions has an impact on a project, certainly, and sometimes a big one,” say Andrew Stellman and Jennifer Greene. “But it’s not nearly as important as ‘who’ you have on your team: how skilled they are, and how well they work together.”

Stellman and Greene are veteran software engineers and project managers who have been writing bestselling books for O’Reilly since 2005. Their latest book, Beautiful Teams, takes readers behind the scenes with some of the most interesting teams in software engineering history. Learn from veteran team leaders’ successes and failures, told through a series of engaging personal stories and interviews.

“We recruited contributors from as many different industries and areas of interest as possible: from defense to social organizing, from academic research to video game development, from aerospace and defense to search engines, and from project managers to ‘boots-on-the-ground’ programmers and system admins,” Greene and Stellman recall. “There are people who we met over the course of our educations and work lives. There are contributors from a wide range of companies, including people who worked (and, in some cases, still work) at NASA, Google, IBM, and Microsoft.”

The conversations in the Beautiful Teams are organized in four categories: people (who’s on the team), goals (what brings them together), practices (how they build the software), andobstacles (what gets in their way). Contributors include Grady Booch, Barry Boehm, Steve McConnell, Karl Wiegers, as well as legendary music producer Tony Visconti, and Tim O’Reilly.

“If you picked up this book hoping to find the One Correct Way to run a beautiful team, we’re really sorry, because that’s not what this book is about,” Stellman and Greene say. “But if you’re looking to gain some insight into what makes a good team tick, and what you can do to take a mediocre team and make it better — or take a great team and make it crash and burn — you’re going to get a lot out of this book.”