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The Manager Pool: Patterns for Radical Leadership (Software Patterns Series) Paperback – October 22, 2001

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Product Details

  • Series: Software Patterns Series
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional (October 22, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0201725835
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201725834
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 7.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,121,467 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

What if--instead of a programmer pool--there were a manager pool, from which self-selected software developers chose the leader of their project? Would you be chosen? Can you lead developers to produce more creatively and proficiently?

As savvy high-tech managers know, the traditional, industrial models of management do not apply to the fluid and dynamic software development environment. Instead, technical management must formulate a more flexible model of management that can grow and change with the technology. The patterns paradigm that has transformed much of object-oriented software development can be applied to the management side of development. The patterns approach enables managers to identify, understand, and handle recurring management challenges that are common to many software development projects.

The sixty-one management patterns featured in The Manager Pool offer insight into the relationships between developers and their leaders, showing how teams can better work together to develop software. Based on years of experience in the software development trenches, these patterns address many different aspects of technical management, from the dynamic nature of software development, to communicating with the unique programmer personality, to organizing the workspace.

The patterns are organized into several overarching themes: psychological and retentive patterns, behavioral and expulsive patterns, strategic patterns, tactical patterns, and environmental patterns. Each pattern lays out the problem; discusses the context, related issues, and examples from industry; and finally offers a solution. You will read about such patterns as:

  • Leviathan--Software development projects are mysterious beasts, too deep and swift for a manager to fully understand or document. How do you know what to control directly, and what to leave to your developers?
  • Geek Channeling--You are responsible for keeping your team in the corporate loop and from spinning in random directions.
  • Tribal Language--Understand the cryptic and sometimes evasive language of developers so that you can have some insight into the substance of what is being said.
  • Overtime Detox--Oppose the temptation of overtime. Resist pressure to compress schedules without corresponding feature reduction, staff increase, or both.
  • The Gauntlet--Apply a legal-like standard of probable cause to investigate slackers and other problematic team members.
  • Train Hard Fight Easy--Despite the expense and time, train the team as a unit in relevant technologies to give everyone the same tools and language and so that the team is not using the project itself as the primary learning experience.
  • Fall on the Grenade--No matter who is at fault, take the responsibility for solving a serious problem in the project. Stand up and take the heat when the problem is unrecoverable. Then, move on.
  • Unique Place--Make your work environment unique, inspirational, and fun, so that you can retain your most talented employees. Think about perks, physical space, and entertainment.

Entertaining to read, insightful, and practical, The Manager Pool will provide you with the understanding and knowledge to communicate more effectively with your development team, lead them through to a successful project, and hence propel your own career.


About the Author

Don Sherwood Olson has been a software engineer for over twenty years in such diverse domains as rocket propulsion, air transport systems, satellite operations, and telecommunications. As a consultant, developer, author, and trainer, he has pioneered the practical application of both technical and organizational patterns. A long-time member of the patterns community he has contributed as an author and shepherd to authors for the PLoP and ChiliPLoP conferences.

Carol Stimmel is currently serving as a vice president in a global technology services company, providing analysis and consulting services to entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. Previously, she worked in a variety of software development arenas, including aviation and weather, Internet infrastructure, and telecommunications research. She enjoys attending and contributing to the PLoP and ChiliPLoP conferences whenever possible.


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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Yet another good basic book for managing software projects.
G. Powell
Once I started on the book, I had a hard time keeping myself from looking ahead to get a glimpse at the next pattern.
Tom Hull
Some were good some of the time, others good most of the time and some were good none of the time.
Charles Ashbacher

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J.J. Langr on October 26, 2001
Format: Paperback
The Manager Pool is a provocative book on development team leadership, written by a developer and an ex-developer manager. Having been in the trenches myself, I greatly appreciated just about all the leadership techniques (expressed in pattern form) espoused in the book. An example and particular favorite is Shameless Ignoramus, which recommends that managers should avoid the temptation to try and know all the technical details.
I'm certain that this book will rankle many feathers, and probably be dismissed out-of-hand as a couple of developers trying to stir the pot. So be it. I suspect that it'll end up being one of those books that states the obvious to those who read it, and those who need it won't read it.
I'd like to see perhaps more patterns, and a bit more detail on how the patterns actually produced the highly touted results as claimed by the authors.
The book's presentation was excellent. Well-edited and well-written. It was a very quick read (each of the "patterns" are three or four pages), and looks to act as a good reference as well.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Charles Ashbacher HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 13, 2001
Format: Paperback
A novel idea for the construction of software development teams is that all potential managers are placed in a pool and the developers choose the manager that they want for the project. At first glance, this may appear to introduce an additional and unnecessary layer of politics into the planning structure. However, after thinking the matter through, it makes sense and the (un) prefix can be removed. Study after study has indicated that the weakest point in the software development cycle is at the mid-level manager point, which is the one that developers interact with on a daily basis. By allowing a reasonable choice to be made early in the process, many festering political problems can be reduced or eliminated. This is only one of the many sensible strategies put forward in this book.
The management of software projects is an exercise in effective psychology, applied to a group that sometimes behaves as a mob, other times as a professional organization and sometimes as a kindergarten class. Therefore, the behavior of a manager cannot be consistent, but must be adjusted to reflect what is happening at the time. The patterns for managerial behavior reflect these many possibilities. The patterns range from simply keeping their attention, (kindergarten class), to offering rewards, (professional) and even to surviving when the group is turning on you (mob). There is a great deal of wisdom in these suggestions, which often sound like something Benjamin Franklin would have written.
I disagree with the title to the extent that it includes the word "radical" leadership. There is nothing radical at all about the approach, in fact many of the points bring back memories I have of the managers I have worked under.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Howard M Evans on November 12, 2002
Format: Paperback
Or how I learned to love my manager and stop worrying.
I am a software engineer with over twenty years in the trenches. I was recently placed in a managerial position at gunpoint. I suspect that this makes me the living anti-thesis of this book, wherein developers choose a manager for thier team from a pool of available managers. I read this book a few months ago. I found myself today presenting an argument to our Higher up Management addressing why mandatory overtime is a bad idea. I found the lucid writing of the authors rolling off my tongue and to my surprise and utter disbelief they agreed. Too bad there was no chapter addressing higher salaries and less responsibility. At any rate it worked. I would like to thank the authors in this review.
I was somewhat disappointed by the use of Radical in the title. As a baby boomer I was geared up to read an accompaniment to Jerry Rueben, "Steel this Book", but alas are there any radicals left amongst us. The book is a funny read, and in many ways conjured both visual and practical similarities to The Mythical Man Month. Can the "Mythical Radical Corporate Manager" be far behind.
Good book !
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mun S Lee on February 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
I have to admit, what initially attracted me to this book was the cover - I just happened to see it and picked it up. But once I started reading I was pleasantly surprised. Oh, if only every manager and manager wannabe could be given this book! It is not a technical treatise on management, with all the little tricks of the trade. It's more about the soul of a manager, and even if other reviewers don't think this is radical, it seems radical to me.
The format is very appealing - easy to skim through, but also quite readable in a linear way. Each chapter, or pattern, is short and most are very entertaining. The authors draw on a really wide collection of sources and that helps keep it from being just another dry how-to book. How many management books quote Hamlet? There is something really uplifting about it, too, in the way it sort of speaks to the reader of the possibility of
really making a difference through courage and conviction.
Some of it could be called fluff, I suppose, and some is going to anger some people. Most of it, I think though, is going to entertain and even enlighten a lot of folks. It's like a license to act on what you secretly believe. It's also damned funny in many places, and I think that managers and their employees alike will find a lot to laugh about in here. It's worth reading just for the entertainment value. It's also the only management book you'll read that discusses the importance of good coffee in the workplace.
Overall, The Manager Pool is a good book - worth reading yourself and even, if you dare, worth giving to your boss to read. And if you have any friends contemplating the management track, get them to read it too. In some way it could make a lot of difference.
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