There are a lot of generic books on management out there, but not a lot focused on technical management. And when it comes to software engineering, the number get even smaller. Therefore, when Managing Humans: Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering Manager by Michael Lopp showed up in an Amazon email, I had to add it to my reading list. I was looking forward to the insight given the amount of experience Lopp has leading technical teams at Silicon Valley companies such as Borland, Apple, Pinterest, Netscape, and Slack.
Michael Lopp is the author behind the blog Rands in Repose. He writes regularly on the blog about managing people, technical teams, and software development. Because the content for the book is pulled from the blog, it reads like a collection of management theories, specifically tailored to software development. In other words, Managing Humans is more or less an organized collection of the posts from his blog. Given how long it’s been around (since 2002), there’s a lot of content to work with there.
I found the book entertaining and well written. Lopp uses a lot of relatable, real world examples to get his points across. While it wasn’t the best management book I’ve ever read, it did have its moments. There are sections that I could see myself referring back to in the future. Due to the style of writing, it’s easy to pick out sections to review. You can also read the book that way by cherry-picking the topics of immediate interest and saving the others for a later time.
I wouldn’t suggest the book as a Must Read, or recommend that you prioritize it to the top of your reading list. It is worth reading if you’re looking for a management book specifically geared towards software engineering. You’ll definitely pick up a few new ideas, and it will reinforce other management concepts and practices. In the meantime, be sure to check out his blog, Rands in Repose. It’s where he captures his latest thoughts and develops the content for his books, Managing Humans being one of them.