Managing Humans: Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering Manager Paperback – Sep 16 2010
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About the Author
Michael Lopp is a veteran engineering manager who has never managed to escape the Silicon Valley. In over 15 years of software development, Michael has worked at a variety of innovative companies including Apple Computer, Netscape Communications, Symantec Corporation, Borland International, and a startup that slowly faded into nothingness.
In addition to his day job, Michael writes a popular technology and management weblog under the nom de plume "Rands", where he discusses his management ideas, worries about staying relevant, and wishes he had time to see more of the world. His weblog can be found at http://www.randsinrespose.com.
Michael lives in Northern California, never far from the ocean.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Part 1 - Management Quiver: Don't Be A Prick; Managers Are Not Evil; The Monday Freakout; Agenda Detection; Mandate Dissection; Information Starvation; Subtlety, Subterfuge, And Silence; Managementese; Technicality; Avoiding The Fez; Your Resignation Checklist; Saying No
Part 2 - The Process Is The Product: 1.0, Taking Time To Think; The Soak; Malcolm Events; Capturing Context; Status Reports 2.0; Trickle Theory
Part 3 - Versions Of You: A Glimpse And A Hook; Nailing The Phone Screen; Ninety Days; Bellwethers; NADD; A Nerd In A Cave; Meeting Creatures; Incrementalists And Completionists; Organics And Mechanics; Inwards, Outwards, And Holistics; Free Electrons; Rules For The Reorg; Offshore Risk Factor; Joe; Secret Titles
Although the title would lead you to believe that the book is targeted for managers, that's not really the case. Yes, software managers will get a *lot* from these pages, but so will any other software professional being managed (that should cover everyone). Lopp, aka "Rands", has spent many years on the front lines of management, from larger companies to startups. In a "cut to the chase" fashion (with words you likely won't see in any other management book), he shares his insights and knowledge when it comes to dealing with the strange and often bizarre world of software development. You'll learn the underlying cause of the Monday morning "freakout", and what's really being said behind the emotional outburst. You'll understand what happens when your staff is starved for information (not a good thing). And something I've already used... figuring out the players in a meeting, and what the real agenda is.
Much of part 1 is devoted to the management side, but parts 2 and 3 are more general in nature, and apply to your own well-being. The Soak is something that we often don't allow ourselves the luxury of, but it's critical to sorting through your thoughts and ideas. A Nerd In A Cave does a great job explaining why we set up our work area as we do. And if you've ever had an argument with someone over the merits of a particular solution to a problem, you'll immediately relate to Incrementalists and Completionists. I know that explains a lot about my approach to problem resolution...
This is one of those reads that is both enjoyable and valuable. You'll either learn to manage better, or learn how to be managed better. You may even learn how to manage yourself while you're at it.
But the book is really choppy. Topics shift abruptly in the middle of chapters without transitions, headings have nothing to do with the content that follows then, and the chapters don't flow together. The style is downright strange at times. There are whole paragraphs full of incomprehensible colloquial gobbledygook. The author occasionally refers to himself in the third person as "Rands", but only at random, which just serves to make the book harder to read.
I usually inhale books like this in a day or so, but I've been working on this one for weeks and am barely a hundred pages in.
If you need practical software management advice, do buy this book, but be prepared to do a lot of work to get value out of it. And let's hope Mr. Lopp can find a skilled editor for a second edition that really helps this great information shine.
While it has an amazing amount of insight into relevant issues delivered with surprising certainty, there isn't research, a philosophical premise, or numbers to back it up, only anecdotes that, while believable, are admittedly created for purpose. Lopp doesn't equivocate, and he doesn't present his views within the context of a greater argument or philosophy. As such, the book reads like a monologue about software companies from a drunk friend who you don't always see eye-to-eye with.
In this regard, the book is simultaneously annoying and stimulating. If you can stomach a point of view not frequently written in, and a blatantly unapologetic tone, it's worth the read. There are nuggets of wisdom to be found, but they are buried so deeply within the anecdotes, I found myself forgetting them after a few chapters.
I really wanted to like this book more, but it lacked a coherence that I may have mistakenly been expecting. Too bad there aren't half star ratings - 3 is a little short, but will have to do.
I like the writing. I wish the publisher had used better quality paper for the book. The paper feels as if it has been (poorly) recycled. The paper is too yellow for me. It would not matter if it had the whitest paper in existence, my personal copy would end up yellowing eventually. I exzpect that I will keep it until I retire, and long after that.
I don't work in the valley, nor the US, but the Rands' writing and ideas are universal. Never mind the valley talk; just soak in the ideas. The book is a bargain for its idea density.
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