Welcome!

Blog Feed Post

Managing the Unmanageable: Rules, Tools, and Insights for Managing Software People and Teams Book Review

On any significant size project I am going to have a team of developers reporting to me. Over the years those numbers have varied greatly. I have managed 1 developer and teams of developers. I have the most fun on projects where I have between 4 and 10 developers.

I also prefer to be partnered with a good project manager or none at all. A bad project manager just makes it harder to keep the team motivated and the client happy. I would say less the 5% of the gigs I have been on have provided a good project manager. 25% of them have provided bad ones, and the rest of the gigs the responsibility fell on me, the software architect.

The point of all this is that my job requires me to manage programmers and communicate to stakeholders effectively. Reading books on project management and general management have not been fun, but has been necessary. I was happy to see one come out that targets more of what I have to do, and that is manage programmers.

Below are the chapters in the book.

1. Why Programmers Seem Unmanageable
2. Understanding Programmers
3. Finding and Hiring Great Programmers
4. Getting New Programmers Started Off Right
5. Becoming an Effective Programming Manager: Managing Down
Insert - Rules of Thumb and Nuggets of Wisdom
6. Becoming an Effective Programming Manager: Managing Up, Out, and Yourself
7. Motivating Programmers
8. Establishing a Successful Programming Culture
9. Managing Successful Software Delivery Tools

In the very first chapter the authors hit a nerve. I went to school for electronic engineering and worked in that field before moving into programming. Because of my work in the engineering field I have always been comfortable with the engineering practices that made there way into the programming field. The authors are however correct when they say a majority of programmers today do not have to know anything about software engineering. They are simply programmers because they decided they wanted to be and were lucky enough to get a job with that title.

The point is that you most likely will not have a team of software engineers. Managing and working with engineers is much simpler that working with the self made programmer that was previously an artist, musician, writer, or any other field. This book helps identify different personalities and offers tons of advice on how to work with them in a positive way.

I wish we could put a law in place that in order to hire programmers an organization must follow the guidance offered in the chapter Getting New Programmers Started Off Right. 80% of my starting week have been a complete waste of my time as well as the organization's time. Rarely are they ever ready for you.

One very cool section of the book is the 60 page insert titled Rules of Thumb and Nuggets of Wisdom. It contain short blurbs and quotes from some of the leaders of the programming industry. Cracking open this section you can lose track of time going through them and thinking about them.

The thing I liked most about this book is that it borrowed some of the best processes in the industry, but is absolutely not process centric. Meaning you'll hear some nuggets of Scrum and other processes, but none of them are highlighted in the book. This book is all about understanding the programmer, your environment, and yourself, and how to make the right decisions given your environment.

My belief is that compiled information is knowledge, knowing what to do with the knowledge is wisdom. I see a whole lot of knowledge these days, but very little wisdom. The authors of this book have successfully compiled wisdom. Reading this book will change the way you work with programmers. Every single chapter of this book is a real gem.

This book will become a classic to turn to over time. Every manager interacting with programmers should read this book. That includes CIOs, Software Architects, Enterprise Architects, and Lead Developers. You don't need to have the word manager or director in your title. If in your role you find you are managing a team of developers, you should read this book.

Managing the Unmanageable: Rules, Tools, and Insights for Managing Software People and Teams

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Tad Anderson

Tad Anderson has been doing Software Architecture for 18 years and Enterprise Architecture for the past few.

Latest Stories
"Infoblox does DNS, DHCP and IP address management for not only enterprise networks but cloud networks as well. Customers are looking for a single platform that can extend not only in their private enterprise environment but private cloud, public cloud, tracking all the IP space and everything that is going on in that environment," explained Steve Salo, Principal Systems Engineer at Infoblox, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventio...
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
The question before companies today is not whether to become intelligent, it’s a question of how and how fast. The key is to adopt and deploy an intelligent application strategy while simultaneously preparing to scale that intelligence. In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sangeeta Chakraborty, Chief Customer Officer at Ayasdi, provided a tactical framework to become a truly intelligent enterprise, including how to identify the right applications for AI, how to build a Center of Excellence to oper...
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, James Henry, Co-CEO/CTO of Calgary Scientific Inc., introduced you to the challenges, solutions and benefits of training AI systems to solve visual problems with an emphasis on improving AIs with continuous training in the field. He explored applications in several industries and discussed technologies that allow the deployment of advanced visualization solutions to the cloud.
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
Agile has finally jumped the technology shark, expanding outside the software world. Enterprises are now increasingly adopting Agile practices across their organizations in order to successfully navigate the disruptive waters that threaten to drown them. In our quest for establishing change as a core competency in our organizations, this business-centric notion of Agile is an essential component of Agile Digital Transformation. In the years since the publication of the Agile Manifesto, the conn...
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
"ZeroStack is a startup in Silicon Valley. We're solving a very interesting problem around bringing public cloud convenience with private cloud control for enterprises and mid-size companies," explained Kamesh Pemmaraju, VP of Product Management at ZeroStack, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Enterprises are adopting Kubernetes to accelerate the development and the delivery of cloud-native applications. However, sharing a Kubernetes cluster between members of the same team can be challenging. And, sharing clusters across multiple teams is even harder. Kubernetes offers several constructs to help implement segmentation and isolation. However, these primitives can be complex to understand and apply. As a result, it’s becoming common for enterprises to end up with several clusters. Thi...
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.