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

Author: Michael Lopp
Publisher: Apress, 2007
Pages: 209
ISBN: 978-1590598443
Aimed at: Aspiring managers
Rating: 2.5
Pros: It’s short
Cons: It’s not funny, biting or humorous
Reviewed by: Dave Wheeler

The author is a blogger, and this book is largely drawn from the blog. It is a collection of fictionalised stories that are used to try to describe best practice for managing people and for being managed. These stories are supposed to be funny and/or biting: they are neither. At best, they might be considered thought provoking, and for me this is where the book offers value. If you, the reader, are really interested in managing people then you will naturally want to assess and re-assess how you do that. If you read the book with this in mind, and you are truly self-critical, then you will become a better manager. However, you could equally well achieve the same result just by reflecting on what you’ve done today at work: the key is in being self-critical, not the content of a book. Ironically, the back cover makes claims about what you will learn by reading this book, only to then immediately contradict itself by stating that you can only learn by doing. And this is truly the point. No book on management will make you a better manager, and if you’re looking for quick answers, not only will you not find them here but you’re probably doomed as a manager to boot!

Clearly, the author has some serious followers: Joel Spolsky, for one, is quoted as saying that “if you’ve found this book on a friend’s bookcase, steal it ... you can always make new friends later.”  This book is obviously one of those “love it, or hate it” products. I hated it. All I’d say is that if you’re the sort of person who steals from your friends, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll make a good manager anyway. Therefore, my recommendation would be to save the money that you would spend on this book and take your friends out for dinner: the chances are you’ll be a better manager (and certainly, friend) as a result.

Last Updated ( Monday, 25 January 2010 )