Book Cover - Book Review: Managing the Unmanageable: Rules, Tools, and Insights for Managing Software People and Teams, 2nd Edition

A good book for better managers, but not great managers.

Almost all people I know having “manager” in their job title have learnt management “on the job.” Even if there is nothing fundamentally wrong with learning from our mistakes (we all do it), for managers, mistakes always affect other persons. There must be a better way.

Through this book, co-authors succeeded in sharing their vast experiences, in a highly practical book, full of anecdotes, stories, quotations, and words of wisdom. The book clearly favors breadth over depth and you will get a really good overview of what it means to manage programmers in the real world. A quick look at the table of contents will show you that no topic was left out. Having this book on your desk is like having a mentor to answer (almost) all of your questions. This is a good book for better managers, but not necessarily for great managers.

Indeed, I think great managers need something that is absent from this book. The best management books I’ve read don’t try to be so exhaustive, or to be so practical. They focus on making the reader think, delivering principles for him to be better prepared for the unexpected. The contrast is very apparent if I compare with my following reading, Principles by Ray Dalio. It’s not one of my favorite books but nonetheless, it challenges several of my assumptions. I could also cite Trillion Dollar Coach, Creativy Inc., or Simon Sinek’s books. These books may appear less relevant in practice, but they are the books that taught me so much.

The truth is, to be the manager your team deserves, you probably need both kinds of books. I do not agree with everything that is presented in this book, but I still think it’s a valuable resource for newly-appointed managers.

About the author

Julien Sobczak works as a software developer for Scaleway, a French cloud provider. He is a passionate reader who likes to see the world differently, to better understand the extent of his ignorance. His main areas of interest are productivity (doing less and better), human potential, and everything that contributes in being a better person (and a better developer).

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