The Design of Design

I just finished the book The Design of Design by Fred Brooks. Years ago, he’d written The Mythical Man-Month, “the classic book on the human elements of software engineering”, according to Amazon. I remember getting The Mythical Man-Month as assigned reading in my freshmen year computer science class. So when I came across this new book, I picked it up.

The Design of Design consists of a serious of essay on the theory and practice of design – from models (like the infamous “waterfall” model), discussion of collaboration, design perspectives (rationalism vs. empiricism, user models, constraints, design styles, etc.) and case studies.

A lot of it is pretty dry reading, so it took a while to get through it. However – the essays are clearly written and infused with thoughtfulness and thoroughness. His background in software engineering makes his thoughts particularly relevant to my current work. The chapters I found most interesting and compelling include: Constraints Are Friends (Chapter 12), Great Designs Come from Great Designers (Chapter 19), and Where Do Great Designers Come From? (Chapter 20). The discussion rings true to my own experience in working with design teams.

All in all – The Design of Design is a great way to take a step back and turn a critical eye on the design process, with a focus on software engineering.