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

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  809 ratings  ·  96 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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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
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...more
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...more
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...more
Fuzzy Gerdes
I'm not a manager, but half of the essays in Managing Humans are aimed at understanding what's going on with your manager. Which I suppose makes sense, even if you are a manager, because unless you're the CEO even managers have managers. It's also aimed at the Software Engineering world, and even just being in IT there were a few chapters that I kinda raced through as not-useful-here. It's all written in a light, breezy style (much as Michael Lopp's blog Rands in Repose) and I think I've got som...more
Mohammad Fouad
very good narratives, but you get lost in the stories, until you miss the actual advices behind the book. But still so fun to read
This is an interesting book that provides an interesting peek into the minds of software engineers. I recommend this to anyone who has to work with or manage software engineers, programmers, developers, or other similar species. If you prefer business/management type books with a lighter tone, filled with anecdotes and scenarios where you can pick out ideas, this is a pretty good book. If you like detailed step-by-step guides on how to manage or communicate with developers, this isn't the book f...more
Alissa Thorne
This book was written from the perspective of an engineer turned manager, and as such it is the one of the few management books I've read that speaks a language I can understand. There were many chapters that gave names to concepts I've spent a lot of time thinking about and left me saying, "Yes--that!"

Probably even more valuable though were the chapters that described the complex politics in an organization. These typically gave me the willies, but oh my god, things make so much SENSE now!

Adam Rifkin
Michael Lopp's book really makes me think. I'm fully aware that there is a difference between reading about the path, and actually walking the path. I'm not a great manager of humans now, but I have a lot better understanding of the mistakes I've made, and I will work on continually improving.

Michael reminds me to be clear and concise and specific when interacting with others. And that takes practice.

I will come back to Michael's book and blog for multiple reads, for they help with self-evaluati...more
Balaji Dutt
Managing Humans has got some very good reviews and it's not hard to see why - the book is laugh out loud funny in places and more than a couple of times, I would up pointing out funny sentences to my SO. That said, some of the concepts in the book are interesting - and tie in nicely with other articles on Project Management that I have read. The core idea of the book really is on identifying and avoiding "silent mistakes" - things that go wrong because you did not realize they are critical. Defi...more
This book consists of a series of short chapters that teach about being a good manager of engineers via storytelling. In my opinion, the advice is useful for anyone who manages people who do independent, technical, creative work, like librarians. There is information here on conducting reviews, running effective meetings, dealing with employee motivation issues, understanding geeks, and cultivating a good work environment. I intend to reread sections occasionally and think that Incan apply a lot...more
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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
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