Finished reading Managing Humans: My final verdict…

Managing Humans: Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering Manager, by Michael Lopp, is a book that derives from Lopp’s personal experience at Apple, Netscape, Symantec, and Borland.  The book is written from the perspective of a fictional character, Rands, who takes you through multiple semi-fictional stories that complement the lessons in the book. Many of the topics in the book also reside in similar form on his blog, Rands In Repose (which you should subscribe to if you haven’t already).  Previously on my blog I posted a book teaser, as well as my first impression of the book after I started reading it.  Now that I’m finished with the book, here is my final verdict…

Entertainment value: 7/10
If I wasn’t learning anything I still would have picked up this book.  The stories are fun to read, even if they are semi-fictional (or maybe especially because they’re semi-fictional).  Lopp takes you through some interesting business situations that are definitely entertaining.  He also introduces some of his own concepts and psychology on subjects such as “NADD” (Nerd Attention Deficit Disorder) and what it means to “be in the zone.”  Both of these topics (and more) were described perfectly – every point he made had me thinking “that’s exactly what I do!”

Learning value: 5-8/10
I’m giving the learning value an interesting score…  somewhere between 5 and 8.  I guess the learning value depends on how much experience you have in the field that Lopp is discussing (the software engineering field).  I personally found this book to be a 7, but I’m young and inexperienced compared to Lopp – I have a lot to learn so it was more valuable to me.

With all of the entertaining, semi-fictional stories that Lopp creates comes a lesson.  The book is split into 34 chapters, or 34 lessons.  Each lesson contains a story or example (or two) and he paints a picture around the reasons why each lesson matters.  The entertainment value keeps you taking each lesson with a little grain of salt – we know that the stories aren’t completely true from the start and we’re expecting a funny situation, so the lesson is very open t.  In my opinion this is better than taking anybody’s advice as law anyway.  I liked that my mind had the freedom to easily adjust the situations in the book to personal situations at my own company.

One place that I feel this book shines is in the Perspective department.  From social situations around the office to building a company and shipping a v1.0 product, Lopp shows his experience in the industry through the light that he sheds on each situation.  I’m the type of person that enjoys understanding a situation from every angle so this book was right up my alley.

Verdict: 8/10
Managing Humans was a great book.  The author, Michael Lopp, made it a fun learning exercise.  I was able to learn and use my imagination at the same time, which too often isn’t the case. The sum of the whole in this case was greater than the sum of its parts.  Instead of finding the book mediocre because he only did so-so in both areas, I found that the combination of entertainment and learning made the book even better.  I recommend this book as a fun and lighthearted learning exercise for anybody in the software development industry.  It definitely shines some light on the perspectives of the different roles in the industry.

Pick it up at Amazon!

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