The Stress Equation (PragProg)

Learn to recognize, analyze, and fix the causes of stress in your teams, reducing burnout and increasing both happiness and productivity.


Marcus Lagré @marcuslagre

Julia Watson @JuliaWatson

Workplace stress is not the weakness of individuals; it’s caused by systemic problems. Armed with the insights in this book, you can identify, analyze, and systematically reduce the factors that lead to poor health, low productivity, and personal burnout. This book gives you a framework for understanding stress, and a vocabulary to make it easier to discuss it among colleagues. Stress can be fixed; find out how.

The interviewer asks, “How well do you cope with stress?” Your response should be, “Let’s fix your environment so we don’t have to.”

Work-related stress is one of the leading causes of mental illness among white-collar workers. It hurts companies, projects, and (most importantly) people! Stress is a burden that’s created when teams stop working well. The Stress Equation is a model and a tool to help talk about stress as a systemic issue. By exploring how pressure, complexity, and security interact in software teams, we move focus away from the individual, so that we can talk about stress from a team and organizational perspective. By exploring external factors, we discuss how to solve problems rather than cope with the consequences. Whether you’re an individual feeling stressed or a manager who can help, you’ll learn the causes of, fixes for, and how to talk about stress. We regulate pressure by how we decide how much work we have to do and when it needs to be finished. Complexity is decided by how we handle our product and organization design. Our security is less about our pay and benefits, and more about the support and trust we feel.

Stress should not be a given. Instead, it’s a symptom of a diseased organization. With this book, you can begin the healing process.

Marcus Lagré is a software organization consultant with Snowdrop AB. He’s a former programmer and Scrum Master turned enterprise coach in agile transformations, with 20 years of experience in software development. Working with companies ranging from small startups to multinational corporations, he knows what works and what doesn’t when scaling agile practices. He has a unique perspective on how stress is created on an organizational level in teams and software product companies.

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