cover of the book: Managing the Unmanageable The Book: Managing the Unmanageable

Other-Language Editions
     Chinese Traditional
     Chinese Simplified
     Russian (in progress)

pointer to Ron's & Mickey's video training Video Training: Managing Software People and Teams

Now in English and Chinese!

Managing the Unmanageable:

Rules, Tools, and Insights for
Managing Software People and Teams

by Mickey W. Mantle and Ron Lichty

Addison Wesley, publishers
Paperback: 450 pages
order from Amazon

What the press is saying...

There are plenty of books on managing people; but there are few books targeting management of software development, and even fewer aimed at people who got promoted into leadership positions with no management skills.... I want real authentic leadership and practical management....
    "Managing the Unmanageable is the comprehensive handbook to gain a variety of insights and a tool set to manage software development teams. I didn’t find it lacking coverage on any topic.
    "I think this is the best resource for a new manager to get a comprehensive overview of every topic related to managing programmers. What I really like about the book is from the experience of the authors it anticipates and provides guidance on a lot of challenges I had to deal with – reading this book helped me proactively plan how to deal with those situations.
    "For me, reading Managing the Unmanageable is like sitting down at a coffee shop with some seasoned managers and listening to their experience and wisdom. Today I still use it as reference book.
Benjamin Bryan, blog
The 21st Century's Mythical Man-Month
    "Mickey Mantle and Ron Lichty's fantastic book can make the people part of your technology operation significantly less hard. Mantle and Lichty understand that it's typically not technology that determines successful projects: it's human beings that make the difference. Instead of focusing on technical solutions, they explore and reveal the human side of technology projects: who your developers are, what makes them tick, what they care about.
    "Fred Brooks' The Mythical Man-Month defined how to make technology projects work for a generation of developers and their managers. Managing the Unmanageable picks up Brooks' mantle (no pun intended) and carries it into the 21st century. If your career depends on working with technologists (and here's a hint: in the 21st century, it does), you owe it to yourself (and to your technologists) to read this book.
Tim Peter, E-commerce and online marketing expert, writing on Amazon
logo of the American Society for Quality
Managing the Unmanageable should rank up there with the Mythical Man Month as required reading for aspiring managers of software development teams. Mantle and Lichty make a compelling case for why managing software developers requires different methods from managing other types of teams. The authors also make some, at times, uncomfortably accurate generalizations about the different types and levels of programmers as well as give insights on how best to motivate and inspire them without burning them out. This book is a very good read that I recommend all software managers, project managers and lead developers read. Shane Willerton, Database and Java Developer, writing on Amazon and DZone
logo of the American Society for Quality
The book is not just about managing programmers as the title may suggest. It’s about that and much more. It’s about how to establish and maintain an effective and productive programming team in order to deliver quality software on time and on budget.
     "This book should be required reading not just for programming managers but also for their supervisors. In fact, I have ordered copies for my software and project managers. I wish I had access to this book earlier in my more than 30 years in technology and software management.
Ajit Ghai, Software Quality Professional, journal of the American Society for Quality, March 2013
logo of the American Society for Quality
I find I’m getting crankier in reviewing computing literature in my old age. So it came as a delightful surprise to me that I really like this book. So much so, that I would put it on a par with some of the classical studies of software management, like Fred Brooks’ The Mythical Man-Month and Tom DeMarco’s Peopleware....
     "What was to like about this book? It’s a 'been there, done that' view of the problems of managing programmers, by a couple of authors whose views on that subject are comprehensive and full of insight and truth. These authors really 'get' what programming is all about, what’s unique about it, and why traditional management techniques may or may not help....
     "The book is full of author examples and war stories, all of them to the point....
     "I like this book so much that I suppose I ought to issue a warning to those who might not like it. If you believe that programmers are too independent and need taming, then you won’t like this book very much. I don’t, and therefore I do!
Robert L. Glass, The Software Practitioner, 2013
Without hesitation, Mantle and Lichty’s book is absolutely one every tech team manager needs to get their hands on and read cover to cover.
     "...After only a few chapters in I found myself wishing I had access to this book at the beginning of my management career. I kept agreeing with the authors’ perspectives and chuckling at their humor page after page. I can wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone interested in a critical look at the success factors associated with managing software developers and software development teams.
John F. Bauer III, Midwest IT Survival blog
logo of the American Society for Quality
Looking for ways to motivate your employees? Consider some tips from a recent book on how to motivate software professionals. They might not work for everyone, but Mickey W. Mantle and Ron Lichty, authors of Managing the Unmanageable: Rules, Tools, and Insights for Managing Software People and Teams, clearly understand how to manage software professionals. Paul Shread, Time, "Eight Ways to Motivate Employees"
logo of the American Society for Quality interviewed industry professionals to find out how career mapping can add value to your company and keep your employees happy at the same time. 'It's important for tech folks to have a vision of where they are going and what they need to do to get there. That's the essence of career mapping,' says Mickey Mantle, co-author of the new book, Managing the Unmanageable: Rules, Tools, and Insights for Managing Software People and Teams…. 'It takes effort; you've got to have the wherewithal to stand up to the criteria you've set. If someone fulfills it, you are going to promote them and pay them more,' says Mantle. The payoff is a happier, more manageable, easier-to-retain workforce. It provides a win-win scenario for both employers and employees. Rich Hein,, "Career Mapping Offers a Clear Path"
logo of the American Society for Quality
...destined to become an extremely valuable resource for those who lead and manage developers. Andy Jordan, ProjectsAtWork, "Managing the Unmanageable"
logo of the American Society for Quality
Are your IT staffers simply going through the motions? Are projects too often going over schedule and over budget? A new book, Managing the Unmanageable: Rules, Tools, and Insights for Managing Software People and Teams, takes a close look at how to get the most out of your employees, especially when they bring a variety of personality types and skill sets to the workplace. For CIOs, this can be a challenge, as your typical software engineer or IT networking professional might be a totally different type of character than someone in accounting. Your tech stars tend to be highly curious and inquisitive, yet easily bored. In the book, authors Mickey W. Mantle and Ron Lichty offer tips for making better connections. Dennis McCafferty, CIO Insight, "Ten Ways to Motivate Your Employees"
logo of the American Society for Quality
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.
     “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.
     “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.
Tad Anderson, SOA World, "Managing the Unmanageable"
logo of the American Society for Quality
The book starts with the sociology and psychology of programmers, and why they are fundamentally hard to manage. Rather than caricature, it sorts programmers along many dimensions to uncover team dynamics and motivational principles.
     "Ron and co-author Mickey Mantle ... make the point that programming is like writing music: anyone can do it, it’s inherently fun, and the mechanics can be taught. There’s a vast difference between a great composer and a mediocre one, though, and it’s not just a matter of effort. Great programmers create elegant, useful, flexible, poetically sparse code where average programmers just write code. And other good programmers see the difference immediately....
     "I was particularly impressed with the sections on assembling balanced teams of developers (with a range of talents and not overweighted with egos) and on the face-to-face personal fundamentals of motivating creative people....
     "The soft, creamy center is a collection of Rules of Thumb and Nuggets of Wisdom....
     "This is a book that every programming manager should have on his shelf.
Rich Mironov, Mironov Consulting blog, "Managing the Unmanageable"
logo of the American Society for Quality
Once in a while you run across software leaders who, instead of trying to lay down the law, have pulled together Rules of Thumb and Nuggets of Wisdom that they leverage as guidelines, applying their own insights drawn from decades of experience. Mickey Mantle and Ron Lichty fall into that category. Matthew Heusser,, "Managing the Unmanageable: An Interview with Mickey Mantle and Ron Lichty on Managing Programmers"
logo of the American Society for Quality
Too often, programmers are promoted to supervisory positions with no real background in leading teams. Help managers understand their IT staff and guide it toward excellent performance. CIO Insight, "The CIO's Summer Reading List", p.9

order from Amazon