"In times of many layoffs, shrinking staffs, vanishing
'think time,' middle-managerial heads rolling and mounting pressure to produce
more faster, DeMarco's 'Slack' is worth consideration as a rather quick read for
large-corporate, small-business and individual workersthere are few limits
on who can get some thoughts from this one."
"DeMarco offers some good ideas for making sure your organization has
the requisite slack, which he defines as time during which people are zero percent
"DeMarco delivers, systematically defacing the ultra-efficiency
banner and constructing a new sign that says adding downtime, dream time, and
other slack will make companies more resilient and more productive."
American Way magazine
"Tom DeMarco goes after one
of the most pervasive and pernicious myths of businessthat humans are efficient
the same way machines are. This book will change the way you manage and understand
of The Cluetrain Manifesto
"This book is the
ideal tonic to the '90s craze of downsizing, restructuring, cost-cuttingall
in the name of efficiency and global competition. What DeMarco shows is that the
resulting costs in human capital (stress, pressure, over-commitment) may ultimately
deprive an organization of the very success it seeks. DeMarco's remedy is what
he calls 'slack.' Read this book and learn why."
author of The Silicon Boys
DeMarco's insights are shockingly pragmatic. Where other writers aspire to be
Machiavellis of management, he is Montaigne: pithy, sharp, intimate, and wise."
MIT Media Lab, author of Serious Play
puts his finger on something I'd only vaguely felt during my years in Silicon
Valley. When asked to cut people some slack, I knew something was amiss, but not
exactly what. Reading this tight little book clears up the trade-offs between
efficiency and effectiveness, between doing and planning, between switching and
concentration, and shows how squeezing excess capacity out of your company can
sometimes leave it terminally unresponsive."
inventor of the ethernet, founder of 3COM,
author of Internet
"DeMarco understands the temptations
we all experience in the high-pressure management world, and is able to separate
incentives from accomplishments and process from culture in a clear and memorable
way. Buy this book for your CEO or your favorite entrepreneur, or better still,
buy a copy for yourself and profit from DeMarco's insights."
general partner, U.S. Venture Partners
the rise of the so-called 'New Economy,' too many business books reflected the
same crazy logic that marked countless dot-con-game business plans. In other words,
common sense disappeared. Tom DeMarco's volume is refreshing because it starts
with common sense and goes from there."
columnist, San Jose Mercury News
is an excellent book that makes its points clearly and briefly, avoiding hundreds
of pages of management consultant waffle. . . . While reading Slack I recognised
so many of the causes and consequences that Tom DeMarco describes, from my previous
employer, that I got a lot from reading his views on less familiar subjects. I
also wish I had read the book a few years ago."
"When we think of "slack," it often
has a negative connotation, such as wasted time or work that goes too slowly.
A "slacker" is someone who actually tries to avoid work. . . . But slack may also
have a positive connotation -- providing flexibility in doing a project. . . .
out slack does lead to increased efficiency, but may also lead to frustration,
such as getting messages like "all of our agents are busy servicing other customers"
followed by a long wait. While we shouldn't be slackers, we all need some slack
in our lives."
". . . in an age of acceleration,
in which more work is crammed into less time, knowledge workers need slack time
for reinvention, creativity, and growth. . . ."
"DeMarco addresses and debunks many
popular myths about restructuring and downsizing with a clearer perspective of
organizational improvement. Offering a pragmatic approach to helping managers
see their employees as humans, and not machines, Slack provides numerous
examples to back up his ideas about efficiency, flexibility, change and growth."
Executive Book Summaries
"This book is easy
and enjoyable reading. It is written for managers of all levels. . . .
are pushing their employees to work at a pace that is counterproductive: the consequences
are missed schedules and unhappy employees. Taking the time and allowing for “slack”
will help organizations become more effective and will allow employees to grow."
"Tom DeMarcos book, Slack, could not have come out at a better
time. . . . Who could have predicted at that time that the economy would have
taken the turn it has? Right now, executives around the world are looking at balance
sheets that arent very pretty, and they need to trim some expenses. The easiest
unfixed expense to trim is staff/payroll. That's the hard, cold truth. Tom DeMarco
wants you to read his book before you go too far in your cost cutting. . . .
an executive in a small business that just went through some staff changes, as
well as a time of abruptly increased sales, I can positively vouch for DeMarcos
premises. Read this book before you make a very costly mistake."
"Every few months, I re-read Tom DeMarco's
book Slack. It's a brilliantly rationalist book arguing that maximizing
the busyness of individual knowledge workers minimizes the effectiveness and productivity
of the organization as a whole.
". . . DeMarco reminds us that knowledge
workers -- and this includes the analysts, designers, developers, and engineers
-- are not fungible. Not only does each individual have their own specialties
and deficits but people have task switching costs analogous to the set up costs
with factory machines."
". . . I like its premise: To have a creative, changing workplace,
you have to give up total efficiency in favor of slack. It's only when middle
managers and lower-level workers have a little free time that they can respond
to emerging issues or innovate. Conversely, when workers are overly busy, they
can only plod along, ignoring or even missing the exciting opportunities that
cross their paths. While DeMarco is targeting higher-ups with this message, there's
much here that ordinary worker bees can take to heart. In a nutshell, busier isn't
more efficient and energy isn't derived from exhaustion. More of these things
are in our control than we may believe."
St. Paul Pioneer Press
". . . a great little
book about understanding how to manage knowledge workers. DeMarco's expertise
is in understanding how to manage software developers (he has a well-regarded
book specifically on that topic, Peopleware).
. . .
"DeMarco proposes a core solution to move your
organization from a burnout-producing factory to an effective enterprise: slack.
Knowledge workers need some free time to be creative. . . .
book is a quick read, at 220 paperback pages split across 33 short chapters. Highly
recommended for anyone engaged in knowledge work, or managing knowledge workers.
Knowledge workers of the world unite: Give us some slack!
". . . compelling. It's aimed
primarily at managers of knowledge workers (e.g. designers and software developers),
but could also be useful, or at least therapeutic, for folks who've been subjected
to certain kinds of work cultures. . . .
". . . recommendations
for what to do as a manager of knowledge workers primarily around planning for
change: ways of creating flexible groups that can adapt to changing circumstances,
building slack into schedules to manage risk, and having trust in your team. .
. . DeMarco has a nice way of capturing the absurdities at the heart of some cherished
workplace cultural habits simply and neatly."
"Nearly everything Tom DeMarco writes, I think, is delightful
. . . . The book is a magnificent, if contrarian, read. The final essay, on finding
hay in a needlestack, is worth the price of the book all by itself!"