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The Effects of Stress on Programmers' and Groups' Performance

Location: Portland 256 Level: Novice
Average rating: ****.
(4.00, 7 ratings)

Open source projects have much lower management and process overhead than commercial efforts. When commercial teams “gell” they can achieve huge productivity gains across the product lifecycle. Recent neuroscience shows that stress impairs cognition in ways that fit precisely with practical experience. By reducing stress and building self-confidence we can improve productivity.

By looking at the cognitive effects of low-level stress on teams of programmers we can understand why risk and cost benefit analyses often go wrong, and how groups’ tendencies to fall back on heuristics when under stress tends to conceal oversight by shifting attention to busy work.

The implications extend to all types of organizations, offer new insights into the origins and opportunity costs of bureaucratic atmospheres in corporate cultures.

Photo of Alan Carter

Alan Carter


Alan Carter built a gelled team by accident in 1987. After 20 years of trial and error, guiding teams at organizations like British Telecom, Sequent, ICL, UK Defence Research Agency, BNR and Utell International he finally thinks he knows how to bake a cake.

He currently lives and works in Brussels, but prefers to telework from the Spanish Mediterranean when he can. His Geek Code is:


OSCON 2008