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Behind Closed Doors: Secrets of Great Management

3.91  ·  Rating Details  ·  548 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews
Great management is difficult to see as it occurs. It's possible to see the results of great management, but it's not easy to see how managers achieve those results. Great management happens in one-on-one meetings and with other managers---all in private. It's hard to learn management by example when you can't see it.

You can learn to be a better manager---even a great mana
Paperback, 176 pages
Published September 26th 2005 by Pragmatic Bookshelf (first published September 19th 2005)
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The Art of Startup Fundraising by Alejandro CremadesDrive by Daniel H. PinkManagement 3.0 by Jurgen AppeloBehind Closed Doors by Johanna RothmanSwitch by Chip Heath
Management 3.0 Recommended Books
4th out of 63 books — 37 voters
Clean Code by Robert C. MartinThe Art of Startup Fundraising by Alejandro CremadesThe Lean Startup by Eric RiesRefactoring by Martin FowlerThe Pragmatic Programmer by Andrew Hunt
Top 100 Agile Books
33rd out of 135 books — 54 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,433)
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Oct 18, 2012 Lucas rated it really liked it
Week 1
-Initiate weekly one-on-ones with each person in your group.
-Notice someone doing something well and comment on it.
-Leave your office! The key to MBWAL (managing by walking around and listening) is to notice changes. Become familiar with the normal noise level, decor, and mood. Don't limit yourself to the office area. Stop for coffee in the kitchen area. Eat lunch in the lunchroom.
-Make a list of all the work your group performs, including your own. Use the list to start a project portfoli
Sebastian Gebski
Apr 28, 2015 Sebastian Gebski rated it really liked it
Another classic quick-read.

I've read it because some people (that I respect) have recommended it to me ("You didn't read Derby/Rothman book? Never?! Really?! How is that even possible?") ... and the first impression wasn't that good - this book feels quite 'stiff'. I know it sounds odd, especially keeping in mind the fact that book focuses on interpersonal aspects of management (so it's not another PMI-like PM-bookkeeping type of book), but due to fiction insertions that are very 'artificial' &a
Guillaume Collic
Jun 15, 2009 Guillaume Collic rated it really liked it
Shelves: pro
This book is a good summary of many diversified books (about management, meetings, retrospectives, ...). It's a good start for a technical person who will have a management role soon, but if you're serious about management you also really need to read more complete books, like "First break all the rules" and "The art of possibility". This book help you choose these other ones with a lot of references.
Oct 04, 2013 Doug rated it really liked it
Pretty darn good, considering the astronomical aspirations of the authors. The format is wisely chosen, swinging back and forth between a fictional narrative of a middle-manager and topic-oriented discourses.

The problem is that most managers don't start in the middle, and by the time they get there, they've honed their chops as a lower-level manager, managing contributors directly. Most of the people reading the book, I imagine, are like me new managers of direct contributors, and many of the te
Sergey Shishkin
Jan 09, 2012 Sergey Shishkin rated it really liked it
I've experienced good and bad managers during my career. If I try to figure out patterns the good managers I worked with had followed, that would almost match the contents of this book.

The book goes even further though. It provides ultimate guidelines for being a great manager. Plus it introduces agile management principles very gently without labeling them so explicitly. Thus it is a must read for managers who are skeptical about agile or anybody willing to introduce agile guerrilla-way.

Anton Antonov
Apr 13, 2015 Anton Antonov rated it it was amazing
Regarded by many as the best book about being an efficient manager and understanding your managers if you aren't one yourself.

Johanna follows the story of Sam Morgan who has just taken the new position of Director of Development in a high-tech organization. Sam is experienced and wants to help his new colleagues.

During the course of 'Behind Closed Doors' there are many scenarios where Sam interacts with his department's managers - Ginger, Kevin, Jason and Patty. Each of them have their pros and
Feb 14, 2009 Lachlan rated it really liked it
A good book with clear ideas that are well presented.

The over all human-focus to the techniques is excellent and very relevant for managing in a collaborative workplace. There are techniques for coaching, delegating, prioritising and planning, giving feedback, facilitation and oodles of others. The descriptions of the techniques are short but the brevity of lessons does not reflect a lack of usefulness, rather a deep understanding and distillation of the essentials.

The book has a story as well
Vladimir Bushin
Jul 29, 2012 Vladimir Bushin rated it it was amazing
According to PMI PMBOK the area for "Communications management" is the most important one among all the knowledge areas. This book is an excellent communications management guide. This book is structured and targeted for beginners and intermediate skilled managers and serves its purpose completely offering paramount help in moving from a chaos and ad-hoc management to a structural and organized approach that builds a strong team of allies and creates a good rythm in the project. An easy reading ...more
Jayesh Naithani
Jun 18, 2012 Jayesh Naithani rated it really liked it
Shelves: leadership-read
Good book with many observations about the habits of effective technical managers. If more of today's managers would apply some of the techniques mentioned in here, a lot more good could be accomplished far more quickly. Some of the advice does sound too good - don't know when was the last time many of the folks I work with just did a 40 - 45 hour work week - longer is more the norm for quite some time. But supposedly that is the number for optimum performance and general well being.. One-on-one ...more
Mattia Battiston
Jun 26, 2015 Mattia Battiston rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. This book has given me lots of practical ideas and techniques to try! I really recommend it to anyone looking for inspiration.
Also it's very well written, so it's quite quick and easy to read. Authors have done a great job.
Mahmoud Ramadan
Jan 15, 2015 Mahmoud Ramadan rated it liked it
A decent book of effective communications management that provides you with concise techniques and recommendations.
it is a mind refresher book not a complete reference , but it is nice to read it if you are a first line manager.
May 27, 2014 Kerri rated it really liked it
If you're new to managing people , you can do worse than read this case study and guide to the traditional skills and strategies for organizing a technical team. Keep in mnd that it's only one reduce, however!
Feb 27, 2016 Vladimir rated it it was amazing
This is must-have reading for every person who is applying or already on the managerial position. It is live daily guidelines, not just a dead phylosophy.
Feb 17, 2015 Steven rated it liked it
Not as much good advice as I expected. I love the authors and have seen them speak I was disappointed in the content of the book.
Mike Klein
Jan 22, 2013 Mike Klein rated it really liked it
The best part of this book is the practical sections in the back. Full of good templates for doing important things. The beginning of the book attempts to use a narrative style to explain why and when to use the practical sections. The trouble with the narrative style used is that the boss is perfect. Not just really good--perfect. The result being so artificial that it is hard to take the lessons seriously. Still worth the read, just wish it had been presented a little differently.
Jun 01, 2015 Renanreismartins rated it really liked it
It is a good introduction to the "manager's world". The book explains how is the manager's day by day, how to deal with the team and challenges that a manager would face. It is a easy and pleasant lecture. It worth if you are a non experienced manager or if it is your first time at the role, otherwise you probably already have the experience that the book can provide.
Jan 04, 2012 Bart rated it liked it
Shelves: kast
Nice and entertaining read.
Contains tips and checklists on various topics, supported by a feel-good narrative, which actually turns this book into a page-turner.

I found the first chapters - on holding one-on-ones and team meetings, and on introducing and using a project portfolio - the most helpful. Later chapters covered topics such as coaching, delegating and developing career paths, which are better covered elsewhere.

Jan 26, 2014 Chris marked it as to-read
recommended by Jesse
Ovidiu Silaghi
great and straightforward guidelines, checklists, templates on different management topics: 121s, team meetings, delegation, coaching, project portfolio, setting objectives, providing feedback, running effective meetings and more. They can easily be extracted in the last chapter of the book. A 3 star because of the novel, which seems somehow forced and doesn't keep you curious to read more.
Jaroslav Urban
Dec 21, 2013 Jaroslav Urban rated it really liked it
Shelves: management
At the first look and few first pages I didn't expect much as I had feeling it is describing stuff I already know, however after some while I found the book interesting and it actually has definitely some good points.
I very like the summary at the end. Once the book is finished it is nice to go through just few pages and remind everything important for yourself.
Jean Tessier
Oct 02, 2011 Jean Tessier rated it it was ok
Shelves: software
A really quick read. The agile bias of the authors shows when they limit planning to 3-4 weeks, or put emphasis on people rather than process.

More than two years later, the only thing that really stuck to my mind is that one-on-one meetings with managers should be more about career development than status reporting.
Jul 31, 2011 Roger rated it liked it
Recommends it for: IT managers or wannabes
Recommended to Roger by: n/a
Shelves: geek
Interesting book on techniques for IT group management. I doubt I work in management again, but I see ways to use techniques to improve my responses when dealing with managers. There are a lot of good suggestions and a wealth of references to other books and materials in the book.
Apr 28, 2013 Tomasz rated it really liked it
I find it very practical and step by step guideline for managing people. It describes quite meny important soft-skills needed to grow healthy team/group in the organization. Easy and fast to read. With plenty of checklists is quite useful for longer period of time on daily basis.
Dec 28, 2014 Trey rated it liked it
Very good refresher book for a lot of common sense behaviors and best practices that we all should keep in mind as managers. It's one of those books that I'll pull out again in a year just to thumb back through and get back on track where needed.
Gary Ray
Oct 22, 2015 Gary Ray rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, technical
Read through this again as I switched positions at work to lead a new team. This book is as close as you can get to having a software management mentor tucked into your bag for consultation on the bus commute to and from work.
Divya Mani
Dec 23, 2013 Divya Mani rated it really liked it
A good book on effective management . Its a book that unifies the meaning of manager and a leader . Different techniques are explained with an office example in a lucid way .
Dec 30, 2012 Rob rated it it was ok
Shelves: operations
This is a decent quick read if this is your first dive into technical management books. It covers at a high level what books such as Managing Humans, as well as books on Kanban, successfully cover in more depth.
James Tharpe
Nov 28, 2012 James Tharpe rated it it was amazing
I carry this book around with me at work as a preacher would carry around his bible. I attribute much of my own success to this book, and I frequently give copies as gifts to budding managers and leaders.
Andriy Rushchak
Sep 25, 2012 Andriy Rushchak rated it it was amazing
It is the best book about management I've read so far. Doesn't matter whether you are experienced manager or have just stepped on your first management position, you will benefit from reading it.
Nov 16, 2010 Ilya rated it really liked it
The book was easy to read. It combines a discussion of useful elements of a manager's toolbox with a case study of a hypothetical 'good manager' Sam, demonstrating those tools in practice.
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I consult, speak, and write on managing high-technology product development. I've helped managers, teams, and organizations to become more effective by applying my pragmatic approaches to their issues of hiring, project management, risk management, and people management. I write a monthly email newsletter, the Pragmatic Manager. Please review back issues and sign yourself up.

I lean towards agile,
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