Michael Lopp (Rands)


Managing Humans

by Michael Lopp (Rands)

Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering Manager


  • This book is very informal, which can help the advice sink in. It is told as though you were having a conversation in a hallway, not a formalized book of instruction.
  • This book is written in small pieces, there are lots of chapters on many diverse topics, some more useful than others. The advice tends to seem pretty solid, but there are a few fairly contrarian viewpoints throughout.
  • This book tends to focus on very large teams, but about 80% of the content is applicable to everyone. This becomes less true as you progress through the book.


This book is a good summary of all of the possible situations you will encounter as a Software Engineering Manager, and contains tidbits of how best to handle each.

Who should read?

While definitely a decent read, I wouldn't call this required reading, even for managers. I would say this book does a good job of introducing (if reading early) or reinforcing (if late) other books that go more in depth on the topics.

Important concepts

  • 1:1 meetings are covered particulary well, and are nicely categorized into 3 categories: The Update, The Vent, and The Disaster, with how to handle each.
  • Process, and the inherent stigma of that word, are covered in a very pragmatic fashion. My particular favorite description is of "Trickle Theory", or the act of just starting a project, even though it seems insurmountable.
  • The third section of the book covers people, and while some of the categorizations were helpful, I found this section to be the least engaging. I may eat these words someday when meeting some of the situations he describes.