Hello, this is Jan Lehnardt and you're visiting my blog. Thanks for stopping by.
plok — It reads like a blog, but it sounds harder!
The order had been delayed. Shipping should now happen somewhere in September. Two more months?! Amazon had to be kidding. I want that book and I want it now. Or tomorrow. Or before the weekend — BUT NOT IN SEPTEMBER.
This was last Wednesday and my shouting must have been heard. I got a mail later that day telling me my order had been shipped. Nice. It arrived on Thursday afternoon, good job Amazon.
The book is a full 209 pages including index and glossary and I love the index: It has soaking and NIH and freakouts and Spiderman. Rands has quite a vocabulary, a vocabulary that is perfectly suited for a blog, but does it work in a book? And who is Rands?
Rands is the online-identity of Michael Lopp, a software engineering manager from the Silicon Valley. He’s been places and he’s seen things and most importantly, he’s been channelling his experiences through Rands. Rands helps us to get along in the corporate world (which sometimes includes Las Vegas). The result is a stunningly entertaining blog about how groups work (in the small and grand scale) exemplified by teams that try to build and ship a software product. The in-depth analysis of the people involved, from top managers to actual software engineers and the untangling of procedures between all parties creates a universal view on how people work together. The focus on software engineering might as well be forgotten.
The book gives advice to those who are tasked with managing any group of workers, but it is evenly targeted at the workers who want to make sense of what their manager is doing and why. It is also a collection of well written stories coming from more than fifteen years of engineering and management experience. There’s no reason not to read this book.
A blog is usually a loose collection of articles. So is Rands’ blog. For the sake of the medium, the book, Managing Humans needed to tie everything together. It provides structure by setting up three parts for the articles to live in.
The first, The Management Quiver, contains a set of solutions, an FaQ, to problems and situations that can lead to problems. If you’re trying to understand why your boss is acting strange, here’s why. If you are the boss and wonder what to do, this is for you.
Every manager has somebody to report to. This obligation comes with a lot of peculiarities of their own. Part 2, The Process is the Product, talks you through the ways of organizing and digesting the constant stream of information a manager has to make sense of. It contains the famous 1.0 chapter that shows how a first release (version 1.0) of a product is trying to kill you. This is also the only chapter with diagrams and I consider this a plus.
Versions of You, part 3, identifies a whole lot of characters. It is important to note that Rands doesn’t describe single personalities, his characters are roles that everybody can slip into given a particular situation. Applying these roles to your working environment will greatly help you understanding who wants what and why. You’ll be able to early detect problems, mischief and opportunities. As a bonus, you learn how to get out of meetings faster or how to even avoid them.
Each chapter is a lesson that Rands learned; the hard or the soft way. Each lesson is also a tale of how Rands learned and this is where the entertainment kicks in. His situations and characters may be fake but the consequences aren’t and they often make for a good, if not hilarious, story.
With the medium came responsibility. Rands loves to type IN ALL CAPS, when necessary (often) and again, this works on the blog, but it doesn’t on paper. So Rands doesn’t yell and he doesn’t do other things that you love on the blog, but Michael managed to make up for that. A little less Rands and a little more Lopp still produce kick-ass writing that makes you laugh in public. Beware.
Rands and Michael tell about their experiences writing Managing Humans. After months and months of rewriting and editing, they wouldn’t know if the transition from blog to book worked. I’d say it worked. They did it.
Great review! I read "Managing Humans" over the course of the week and was, at the very least, entertained greatly by the writing style of the "Rands in Repose" author.
I’m halfway through it anda little bit disappointed. I love his blog and his humor but I find his thoughts and his writing sometimes to be too chaotic and hard to grasp. Maybe that’s because I just finished Joel on Software, which is a clearly written, well edited book with tons of valuable tips (aside from the .net ranting in there).
The other thing that bothers me about managing humans is that I can’t relate in any way to his stories. It’s not really about software engineering, it’s about managment in general, hallway scenes, layoffs, freaked out people, a lot of yelling and company politics. Stuff I’ve never seen in my career as a software developer.
So to me it’s good for a fun read and some Dilbertesque stories but I don’t feel like learning anything new.
Heya Maarten, I wonder how you liked the rest of the book. A friend was similarly disappointed at first, but he liked it better in the middle parts.
I liked it a lot better! :) It just takes some time to grasp his kind of humour, I guess..