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Behind Closed Doors: Secrets of Great Management Paperback – Sep 29 2005

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Pragmatic Bookshelf; 1 edition (Sept. 29 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0976694026
  • ISBN-13: 978-0976694021
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #328,356 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


""Rothman and Derby bring a clarity and honesty to the craft of software-development management that I haven't felt since first reading Demarco and Lister's classic, Peopleware. Their story-based teaching style is engaging, and the tips contained provide a valuable reference for those who find themselves in the world of management.""--Bil Kleb, Research Scientist, NASA

""Five Star Review: All the great stuff is here... Easy to read and understand.""""

--Robert Pritchett, macCompanion

About the Author

Johanna Rothman helps leaders solve problems and seize opportunities. She consults, speaks, and writes on managing high-technology product development. She enables managers, teams, and organizations to become more effective by applying her pragmatic approaches to the issues of project management, risk management, and people management. Johanna publishes The Pragmatic Manager, a monthly email newsletter and podcast, and writes two blogs: Managing Product Development and Hiring Technical People. She is the author of several books: - Manage It! Your Guide to Modern, Pragmatic Project Management - Behind Closed Doors: Secrets of Great Management (with Esther Derby) - Hiring the Best Knowledge Workers, Techies & Nerds: The Secrets and Science of Hiring Technical People - Corrective Action for the Software Industry (with Denise Robitaille).

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
One of the effects of the pending baby boom retirement cycle is going to be the exodus of an entire generation of management. A common solution to this problem in IT is to promote senior developers into management. A large percentage of these people likely had not given what it takes to be a manager much thought and being a good manager is, like a lot of things, a learned skill. Consequently, a lot of new managers face a steep learning curve upon elevation.
The premise of Johanna Rothman and Esther Derby's new book is that a lot of the skills necessary to be a great manager are not readily observable but happen in private with their interactions with their staff and colleagues Behind Closed Doors. The book follows Sam, a manager recently brought into an organization, over a 7 week period in 7 chapters; one per week. Each week has a broad goal to achieve such as "Learning about the People and Work" (week One) and "Managing Day to Day" (week Four). Within each chapter there are scenarios Sam encountered that week to achieve the week's goal. This structure is one of the stronger points of the points as the book as it transforms the narrative into a checklist for the reader's own managerial growth.
Another valuable item in the book in the series of short (most are only two pages) "Techniques for Practicing Great Management". These cover everything from coaching to running an effective meeting. These tips can be applied almost immediately and have a positive impact on an organization.
I enjoyed Behind Closed Door and my copy has lots of notes in the margins of ways I can apply the content. While the content is geared towards the new or slightly experienced manager, I would recommend it even those who have been doing it for awhile due to the breadth and applicability of the topics covered.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars 49 reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Very solid advice but cheesy, somewhat unrelatable example narrative Aug. 15 2016
By Aaron Gibralter - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
All the advice in this book is spot on or close. I just found that the made-up, example story the authors used to describe management in action was pretty boring to read through. Also, I've been working at startups my whole career, and this book focuses on a world I thought no longer exists. It sounds like the 80s... Who has an office these days? Or has a phone line? And delivers software on a multi month cadence?
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Practical, ultra clear, and covers the basics!! Nov. 12 2005
By Mr. Mark S. Jones - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have 25 years of IS experience - some as a developer or analyst and some as an IS manager and certainly when I started out as a manager, this book would have been invaluable!!

Perhaps my only issue is glossing over some of the gnarlier situations I believe most IS managers have to confront eventually - for instance what happens when you give negative feedback and the person doesn't relate in any way what you're telling them or perhaps agrees but thinks the issue is unimportant? To me the easy case is when you give feedback and the person agrees or at least comes up with some cogent reasons why they think I'm wrong. At this point I know the person thinks I'm the pointy haired manager and I'm totally certain I'm not the only manager that experienced this. The book says such a person will "not change" - no kidding but where do you go from here?

I actually have a longer list than this - but the point is I think there are a lot of real and challenging situations especially for IT and technical management not covered. OTOH, the suggestions the book does comes up with are mostly excellent well explained and easy to implement and I think anyone with any level of management experience will pick up priceless suggestions from this book - and I'm usually extremely cynical about new management methodologies!!

Maybe a later more intermediate/advanced book will cover some of the more difficult situations? If there's a website, blog, set of seminars etc available I'd be interested in hearing about it!!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good management introduction Nov. 18 2008
By Eric Kassan - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Behind Closed Doors takes a different approach for a management book - it follows the first seven weeks of a new (external) manager coming into a company and shows, step-by-step, what the new manager does and why. The book then covers 13 key techniques presented as general guidelines. While much of the approach works well, unfortunately the book is inconsistent. For example, while it is geared towards new managers, the new manager in the book is a director - a manager of managers. While that does help illustrate involvement between a manager and his/her (perfect) boss, the book really doesn't illustrate much about the manager's relationships with anyone else. The book is also a little technologically backward by not recognizing/suggesting software tools to aid in certain cases. For example, a BVC (Big Visible Chart, e.g. large whiteboard) is still recommended for portfolio project management, despite the huge drawback that it does not keep track of history.

Overall, there are many positive points to this book, including a fresh perspective, enjoyable to read prose, and especially the 13 key techniques. For new managers, I would definitely recommend this book. For experienced managers, it might serve as a decent review of the fundamentals, but it probably won't be a huge help.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Resource Nov. 5 2006
By Matthew Edgar - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book very much. It was written in a very approachable style and it was not long-winded. It is something that can be read in a weekend and referred to when needed.

Even though the book was written for project managers, I found the thoughts and ideas in the book very applicable to my day-to-day work as a technical lead. I discussed the 'common sense' ideas in the book with my manager and it has made a real difference in the communication amongst team members.

I definitely recommend this to any leader or manager.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Greate Management 101 book Dec 27 2007
By J. Marcial - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Practical approach to management. This book shows the application of good management practices using real-world scenarios. It is easy to read and written in such a way that you can instantly start applying its concepts in your environment.