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Managing Humans: Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering Manager
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Managing Humans: Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering Manager

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  1,182 ratings  ·  110 reviews
Managing Humans is a selection of the best essays from Michael Lopp 's web site, Rands in Repose. Drawing on Lopp's management experiences at Apple, Netscape, Symantec, and Borland, this book is full of stories based on companies in the Silicon Valley where people have been known to yell at each other. It is a place full of dysfunctional bright people who are in an incredi ...more
Paperback, 209 pages
Published June 1st 2007 by Apress (first published January 1st 2007)
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I bought this book because I love the author's blog ( The blog is excellent, the book less so, probably because it's mostly a collection of his blog posts, which tend to work less well in book format. There is some attempt at organization but it feels very jumbled, oddly enough even more jumbled than the blog.
Fantastic book about the perils of managing smart, talented, socially retarded people. Michael Lopp doesn't pull any punches, and leaves no stones unturned in this software development guide. This, along with Peopleware & The Mythical Man Month should be required reading before anyone in software engineering can start working. Wonderful book...if you have ever worked in the tech industry this book will have you laughing, crying, and angry over what you have experienced.

Well worth reading...a
If you wish to scare the hell out of a software engineer, an obsessed introvert geek, give him a managerial position!! Management means dealing with people, become socially engaged and start relating to others in a non-technical manner. Trust me this is scarier than watching a paranormal movie when you are alone in the middle of the night!

I'm starting a managerial position and this scares the hell out of me since I'm no longer able to hide in my cave, put the headset and ignore that everything a
Henk-Jan van der Klis
In Managing Humans - Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering Manager, veteran software developer and manager Michael Lopp serves you the must-read a-typical management or leadership book. No models, theory only, or success stories here, but raw, personal stories on engaging nerds and managers in the conception, development and delivery of software products. If you consider yourself a project manager, team lead, software development manager, program manager or engaged in software proj ...more
Amy Gilchrist Thorne
Meh. It was okay.

There were a few places where I laughed out loud, and a few where I exclaimed, "That's so true!"

But I found myself wanting more in-depth analysis about how to fix it when I find myself in biting and humorous situations like these. And there are some recommendations that make sense. But I still found myself wanting more, not because I came to the book expecting the answers to all software development woes, but because some of the observations seemed so insightful that I just star
What? A “management” book?! Wait. Wait. Wait. This book is different.

I first found this in the Management/Business section of a bookstore, started idly flipping through it and then realized I was standing in the same spot 30minutes later intensely reading. So I bought it. The 1st edition was only ~200 pages, in compact standalone chapters collected from a series of blogposts. The 2nd edition was almost 300 pages, and just as good. Oh, and it’s written in a readable, down to earth style. This mak
Martyn Lovell
This book is a collection of short advice pieces for technology managers, drawn mostly from the author's popular blog.

The writing style is light and jokey, and seems to reflect the author's quirky, opinionated personality. His range of career experience gives him plenty to draw on, and he does a good job of backing his advice with anecdotal scenarios.

Lopp seems to be an instinctive classifier, as many of his chapters involve analyzing situations and dividing participants into classes. This appro
Erik Johannessen
So, Michael Lopp has this blog called Rands In Repose (he's Rands), and it's pretty good. I actually like it a lot, and would rate the blog at least 4 stars. This pretty much that. Actually, many (most? all?) of the chapters are lifted straight from his blog. They're good, and I enjoyed reading them, but I'm not sure the content is improved at all by being included in book form -- they're lightly categorized here, but his writing really works well in small, digestible chunks, and the s ...more
jonathan berger
Jul 15, 2007 jonathan berger rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: nerds
Its interesting to watch an author's transition from Blog World to Book World, and Rands (aka, apparantly, "Michael Lopp") makes the switch with

fuck, I was trying to write a quick little blurb and I got distracted and lost my train of thought.

The book was ok, the blog is better, I like Rands. Done.
Chris Fung
I really enjoyed Rands's casual tone and humor throughout this book. Though it was sometimes repetitive and sometimes a little off-topic, on the whole I found the book a good read. The main audience seems to be new managers who want to get a better feel for their new gig and the engineers they now have to oversee, but I found the book equally valuable as a glimpse into how my manager thinks and what kinds of thought processes he has to go through in his everyday. Picking up this book, I really h ...more
Veselin Nikolov
It's a great book. Eye opening in some areas, like what software engineering managers do, and why developers get promoted to lead teams, when they are obviously not qualified for it. It may help me do my job better.

However, it's a slow read. My average progress with it was about 3 pages per day and it took me months to complete. During that time, I felt guilty about not dedicating enough time to it, and didn't read other books, which wasn't good for me. So, I managed to defeat it, and with some
As a software engineering manager, I am exactly the target audience for Managing Humans. Overall I found it to be a helpful and easy to read book. Some of the chapters really resonated with me and he has some insightful thoughts on how people -- and particular engineers -- function, and what is needed to manage them effectively.

However, some of his chapters really did not resonate with me and almost turned me off from the book. He has a few chapters where he describes the characteristics of "ne
Luiz Filho
One of those books to read every year. Fun. Wit. Wise!
Mathias Meyer
I'm a big fan of Rands' writing on his blog. His articles are both entertaining and pointed, full of stories, analogies and stereotypes. The nerd is a recurring example.

While this is a book, it's based on his blog writing, and you can find most of the writing on his site. All of his posts work well in isolation. Their format is good for the blog, as they usually don't go very deep.

In book form, however, it's a different story. The chapters don't work together very well. Some reference others, bu
As a reader of Rands I was reasonably familiar with the area of the content and a few of the chapters. However as the book is from '07 and stretches back there was a few things new to me.

A concise, story-filled and somewhat realistic view of software management in the newer tech companies as opposed to the organizational or consultancy monoliths. More than a few data points match my own experiences.

Be aware, however, that Rands is a people oriented manager who has managed to inure himself of m
This was a fairly quick and enjoyable read. Michael Lopp, the author, uses the f-bomb a little more than I really care for, but I think it's part of his 'voice.' Managing Humans is primarily made up of articles from Michael's blog, randsinrepose. So, if you don't need to process your info in dead-tree format, I think you can get a lot of the same content from the archives.

So, I don't know that I learned anything earth-shattering. Generally, it was nice to have some thought and ideas re-enforced

Aug 10, 2008 Amy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Amy by: Karen
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a very well written and practical narrative. The author (Michael Lopp) seems to truly care about managing people, rather than just trying to manipulate or force people to live by his rules and his schedule. I have been fortunate to know managers like the author, and they are worth listening to!

I kept a piece of paper and a pen handy while reading this book, because Lopp often put into words what I felt, but hadn't found words for.

I am new to the software industry, so this book helped me
This book has an unpolished feel to it. This apparently derives from the fact that it is a series of blog posts. The audience he's broadcasting to jumps from managers trying to get along in their daily lives, to engineers trying to understand getting along in a managerial environment, to plain old start-up engineers trying to get a job from a manger who's been at the gig for a dozen years.

Never-the-less, no matter what the voice the author puts on for a given section, he has much to offer. The a
Aug 13, 2009 Kelley rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who is or wants to understand managers
I finished reading Managing Humans in a day -- which only partly reflects the fact that I read pretty quickly. The book was an engaging read, quickly and frequently hurling me into fits of laughter. What better way to start off a book by reading a general overview of management as like carrying around bows and arrows because someone has decided you might be skilled at knowing which targets to hit. And yet, as the author makes clear, managers go wrong when they start to think that management is a ...more
I saw Michael Lopp speak at the Atlassian Summit conference in May of 2012. He has a friendly, dynamic presentation style that I found very approachable. Also, his slides were sexy.

In the course of that talk, I realized that a) I had a bad manager who had no idea what the practical applications of my job were, and b) beyond some minor annoyance, I didn't care that much, because I didn't care about my job, I had no idea what the company I worked for was doing, and I didn't feel like I was contrib
Jim McGaw
Most books that you read about the management of software developers, or about the often-chaotic culture found in software companies, don't make much of an impact on me. They contain advice, guidelines, and step-by-step instructions that you read in an evening. Then you return to your actual job the next day, where it can be difficult to translate what you read directly into steps that help you reign in the chaos.

Michael Lopp does not instruct within these pages...instead, he weaves. He is quite
This is an easy book to read it's take you like lest than a night to reads it. The writing is easy and the words not developed. I was surprised their was not more details and more examples or idea to know the subject. But also was surprised by the facility it's take you to read this book. This is a book I recommend you to read after a long days of work or when you are tired and want to relax and read something, but to know the subject no this is not the book to read.

(Lebanese Book Lover)
Christopher Litsinger
This collection of things that were often blog posts has some useful advice buried in it and a few funny quips here and there. I didn't love the extent to which Lopp creates profiles for people (after earlier complaining about the silliness of personality tests), but I suppose it has some value, and even in those sections, he did offer some useful insight.
Two useful quotes:
Meetings must exist, but meetings cannot be seen as the only solution for making progress. If you must meet, start the meeti
I liked the book. After working as a manager in software for a few years, I found a lot of insight in the suggestions offered here. Many of the failures from the author's experience that he cited also resonated with me and mirrored mistakes that I made early on as a new manager.

It is the type of book that I think I would like think about, try to apply lessons from, and then to read again in a few years.
Michael Rubin
There are many management and leadership books for computer folks. I have read way too many. Most of them are not really about management. They have anecdotes, discussions on computer history and never seem to have any relevance.

This book is different. While I don't agree with every detail inside the pages. I think a reader gets a lot from reading it. The book provides a survey of the topics needed to be proficient in to fulfill the job. How to stay technical enough but not get in the way. How t
Erika RS
This book is excellent if you think of it as a collection of essays that slightly build on each other rather than as a coherent book on being a Software Engineer Manager -- in other words, it's a typical blog to book transition. Michael Lopp (rands) manages to convey much of what it is important to know as a manager of software engineers from the perspective of someone who has been a software engineer. This is useful for programmers wanting to know what a manager actually does, managers wanting ...more
Joe Mahoney
This isn't a book for managers or people who are wondering what managers do. Managing Humans isn't a training manual. Michael Lopp won't tell you how to make your employees more productive. He certainly won't give you with essential tips for climbing the corporate ladder.

Lopp—OK, let's call him Rands—has collected a bunch of kinda, sorta related anecdotes about on the subject of work and working with other people. Some of stories Rands tells will probably be very familiar to you. Others might b
Andrew Frueh
As someone fairly new to the world of management, I found this book to be extremely valuable. I came across it after doing some googling on the subject and finding this blog post. As I understand, the book was constructed from previously written blog articles, but I didn't feel like that detracted from it. Each chapter was its own vignette, and there were enough threads running between them to tie it all together. I especially loved that this wasn't just a book on managing, but specifically on m ...more
Sigurd Magnusson
Not enough structure nor powerful ideas. A jumbled collection of insights turned into cheesy office re-enactments, that unfortunately go some way to accepting and endorsing office politics. Some insights yes, but noise to signal ratio makes for a frustrating read. Pity, given Lopp's speaking skills, experience, and career.
Apr 25, 2009 Susan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: managers, system administraters
Recommended to Susan by:
Reading this book is one of the best things I could ever do for my career. I got thrown into managing a system for 70+ people around the globe in the form of a content management system spread over three servers. Each region has its own requirements, wants, and goals. Each user in that region has the same. It's my job to figure out all of this, provide it to them, improve the system, and make sure nothing goes down in flames. Oh, and figure out how to code software.

If you manage people, work glo
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“One of your many jobs as manager is information conduit, and the rules are deceptively simple: for each piece of information you see, you must correctly determine who on your team needs that piece of information to do their job.” 4 likes
“My definition of a great manager is someone with whom you can make a connection no matter where you sit in the organization chart.” 4 likes
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