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

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  2,883 ratings  ·  237 reviews

Read hilarious stories with serious lessons that Michael Lopp extracts from his varied and sometimes bizarre experiences as a manager at Apple, Pinterest, Palantir, Netscape, Symantec, Slack, and Borland. Many of the stories first appeared in primitive form in Lopp’s perennially popular blog, Rands in Repose. The Third Edition of Managing Humans contains a whole new sea

Kindle Edition, 331 pages
Published July 26th 2016 by Apress (first published January 1st 2007)
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Average rating 3.97  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,883 ratings  ·  237 reviews

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May 14, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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. ...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
Nov 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: computers, management
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...again
Dec 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Dec 02, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tech, own
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
Dec 13, 2016 rated it liked it
Michael Lopp made a name for himself by blogging about engineering management under the pseudonym "Rands”. The book is more of a packaging of his best blog posts than a cohesive narrative. In our management book club, some people disagreed with Lopp’s opinions and conclusions, but we appreciated his efforts to answer “What does a software engineering manager do? What should they do?” Despite my initial objection, I found his descriptions of diametrically-opposed engineering personality archetype ...more
Crystal Thomas
A bit "I am a stereotypical white American male programmer whose glory days peaked in the mid-80's and here are my pet peeves about working in Silicon Valley"-esque... But I can definitely derive value from the book. Unfortunately, the value had its climax mid-way in the book, and the latter half was far too myopic in perspective for me to feel like it was useful business advice that would apply anywhere in the world, for anyone, of any age, in any industry.

However I do enjoy his writing, and ev
Adam Wiggins
Highly specialized advice for being an engineering manager in a modern software company. I found the punched-up writing style annoying, but it's probably preferable to the dry and self-help-ish tone found in most management books.
Jun 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is filled interesting stories and anecdotes from the authors blog. I really enjoyed it reading it. It was both entertaining and insightful to hear the rants of an Engineering Manager. Since it's a collection of blog posts, the writing style is simple to read and the chapters are short, which makes it easy to digest and binge read.

4 stars instead of 5, because the last half is a bit too preachy and not as well structured as the first.
Nov 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
2 stars for the writing (and the fact every other sentence somehow didn’t put a space between the period and the next word...?) but 4 stars for the usefulness of content, even for those in non-technical careers. Will be doing a second read with a pen and paper.
Avraam Mavridis
May 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first 80%-90% of the book is absolutely great!
The last few chapters were just stereotypes about different kinds of people, which contradicts with what the author actually mentions at the last chapter, about "unique snowflakes". Still a great book.
Chad Hurd
Apr 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub-books
Despite having read most chapters on his website, rereading them in book form was great. A lot of good information, cleverly conveyed.
Sep 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although this book isn't really aimed at me, there's still a whole bunch of fascinating opinions and insights in there. I think my biggest criticism is the way it buys into the Silicon Valley style, framework and methodology, e.g. talking about ridiculous working hours, or special snowflake engineers.
Jan 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Software Engineers
Worth reading for all Software Engineers. Must read for all Software Engineering Leaders.
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The pieces of this book don’t necessarily flow since it is a collection of blog posts, but there is great value in many of them. I was able to identify people I know who fit many of his examples, and he had good advice for how to handle people who work or think differently from you. I think this is valuable for both new and experienced managers.
May 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Read this on the recommendation of Kevin Sonney from the Productivity Alchemy podcast.

Very solid approach to laying out management skills and tricks for people who are from technical/engineering backgrounds. I don't know that I actually found it that biting or humorous, but the simple explanations of why managers and processes are :necessary: for organizations larger than 20 people and the approaches to managing the information that managers have to be a conduit for (in multiple directions) was
May 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lopp uses stories very well to make his points (an approach he uses during his live talks as well). I've read this book more than once since I bought it, and the one piece of advice that I initially disagreed with (that an engineering manager should own the technical implementation of a feature in addition to their management role) ultimately proved to be correct in practice.

I attribute most of my success as a manager and mentor to individual engineers and teams of engineers to following the ad
jonathan berger
Jul 15, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
Alper Çuğun
Aug 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is filled with lots of generalisations, stereotypes and snide observations. I don't think nerd is a useful way to describe humans.

Despite all of that it is still worth reading for the insights it packs. A lot of that insight should be familiar if you read Rands's weblog but it's still useful to have everything together.
Sergey Teplyakov
Nov 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: management
This is definitely one of the best books on the topic I've ever read.
Dec 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
most management books are dry, this one is excellent with right mix of humor and information.
Guillermo Trueba
Good book to prepare you for larger than startups organizations when your job is “people that code”.
A classic must read i really got to get to the latest edition.
Luiz Filho
Sep 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of those books to read every year. Fun. Wit. Wise!
Aug 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book made a big impact on me because it spoke to what I've been at this year: trying to lead a small software team within a ballooning tech startup. Michael Lopp has done this a couple of times and has plenty of advice to dispense as a result. I've kept whipping the book out week after week and quoting it to people until their eyes glaze over, though I've eased off now. It just kept making me say "yes, that's it!".

This is not a book of management theory, or planning methodologies, or partic
Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: en

Let me say that e-mail is never ever ever never ever the right way to resolve controversy. Too much subtlety is lost when you’re YELLING IN ALL CAPS at your program manager. Don’t waste your time solving problems in e-mail. Stand up. Walk down the hall. And look the person in the eye. You’ll live longer.

There are jokes and there’s wit. Jokes are memorized comedy retold with moxie. Wit is original comedy created in real time and delivered with precise timing. Nerds are witty because they connect
Mar 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's always hard to review advice books, because it's easy to write advice that sounds good but doesn't actually work well in practice, and by the time you've had the practice you've often forgotten the book. That said, I really enjoyed reading this book, which is a major plus. It was very funny - not really in a laugh-out-loud way, but in the way that grabs and keeps your attention, like hearing a story from your most charismatic friend. I'm a long-time reader of the author's blog, so a lot of ...more
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“My definition of a great manager is someone with whom you can make a connection no matter where you sit in the organization chart.” 8 likes
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