Partial Book Review: Beautiful Teams.


A long time ago I received a copy of the book Beautiful Teams for review – actually, it’s been over a year ago, now. I started reading the book immediately when I received it and got through 80 of the roughly 460 pages of very small type, in the book. At that point, I found myself unable to continue reading it. I should have continued on with it and I should have posted this review a long time ago. Instead, I continued to push it off and forget about it because I was honestly bored with the contents of the chapters that I had read. There were a few interesting stories for a few paragraphs in a few places, but overall, I felt that the book was doing nothing more than recounting the personal experiences of the individuals being interviewed.

I was expecting a book that was going to talk about how to create “beautiful teams”, about the motivation and management side of teams, about team dynamics and culture – all from the perspective of trying to teach us how to improve our teams and our cultures. What I found instead was a bunch of stories about the different teams that different people had worked on at different points in their careers. These stories may have had value in a book that was teaching lessons and helping us understand how to facilitate team mentality, etc. However, the stories and interviews themselves are what make up the entire content of the book.

In retrospect, I believe my expectations for this book were incorrect. Had I known that the “beautiful …” series from O’Reilly was just this – a bunch of interviews and stories – I would have stayed clear of the book. I’m not interested in knowing that some guy was banned from using the copier at work while another guy was allowed to make a few personal copies or any of the other team dynamics that oddities that people have worked through, unless those anecdotal items are accompanies by principles and lessons learned about how to deal with those situations.

My final score for the book: 1 out of 5. There are a few moments of fun reading, depending on what your own experiences and interest are. However, I found none of what I wanted in this book and was unable to finish it.

My final recommendation for this book: Don’t bother unless you’re looking for anecdotal stories from other people’s careers.

About Derick Bailey

Derick Bailey is an entrepreneur, problem solver (and creator? :P ), software developer, screecaster, writer, blogger, speaker and technology leader in central Texas (north of Austin). He runs - the amazingly awesome podcast audio hosting service that everyone should be using, and where he throws down the JavaScript gauntlets to get you up to speed. He has been a professional software developer since the late 90's, and has been writing code since the late 80's. Find me on twitter: @derickbailey, @mutedsolutions, @backbonejsclass Find me on the web: SignalLeaf, WatchMeCode, Kendo UI blog, MarionetteJS, My Github profile, On Google+.
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  • joey vano

    should add your feedback to the amazon custom reviews.

  • Liam

    Good to hear a negative book review. It’s refreshing. And I’m being serious.. there’s too many breathless posts out there that just smell like a paid review. Thanks for helping me steer clear of this one.

  • @joey vano – good suggestion, and done. :)

    @liam – i was wary of posting this, honestly. thanks for the comment and encouragement.

  • I’m nearing the 2/3 mark in this book and have had the same reaction from the get go. I got this book because I was on a horribly broken team, and I wanted to see what I could learn to help out… this book did not do that. Not sure I can finish it either.

    It’s liberating to know someone else decided not to finish it too (for the same reasons). I may just go ahead and cross it off the list rather than letting it continue to weigh me down.

    Your review is verbatim how I would review it too.

  • I’ve had the same opinion of the entire “Beautiful X” series. Lots of war stories & personal opinions with no real theme or general learning to take away.