I'm reading through The Mythical Man Month for the first time. In it, Fred Brooks* proposes a model of software development based on how a surgical team works. There is a "surgeon" (a senior developer) who does almost all the design and implementation work, a "copilot" who discusses these ideas with the surgeon and occasionally does some minor coding, a "toolsmith" (dev ops), a language expert, and some other administrative workers.
I can't but help be struck by the fact that, despite the great fame of The Mythical Man Month, I have never seen or even heard of an office that actually operates on that model. This is despite the meteoric rise of the tech industry and the cult of the "rockstar programmer" that fashionable among startups today.
And so I was wondering if this is because the surgical model has become obsolete in any way. After all, we now have advances like version control (making one of his administrative roles obsolete), optimizing compilers (possibly making the language expert obsolete), and agile development (which may not make anything obsolete, but seems substantially different from the waterfall method that people used in those days).
The question, then: Has there been any research on the efficacy of Brooks' "surgical team" model in the era of modern software development, with agile processes and modern tools? What does today's research say is the most effective team structure?
*Credit where credit is due: technically, Brooks is summarizing earlier research by Harlan Mills and F.T. Baker. I am using Brooks' name only because his name is more recognizable.