Herding Cats: A Primer for Programmers Who Lead Programmersby Hank Rainwater
"Self-Help for Programmers That Lead Programmers: A Guide to Herding Cats" is designed as a comprehensive guide to the management challenges of leading programmers. As the title indicates, this challenge is analogous to herding cats, a very difficult leadership task. Rainwater introduces the new manager to concepts that help encourage and facilitate adaptation to the leadership role. A study of the varieties of programmer personality traits helps the reader to understand how to best use his team for the job at hand, and why some individuals may be difficult to manage. This is followed by a look into the need to manage the manger, and how to accomplish this most personal task.
Several chapters are devoted to the administrative aspects of the job, such as managing meetings, hiring and firing, and principles of organizing your job for success. The book also describes task management software built by the author, which is available for download when you own the book. A chapter is included on technical leadership, highlighting the importance of architecture, design and code reviews while illustrating the practical application of leadership principles.
Rainwater also shows why things can go wrong for a leader and how to correct these problems as they arise. One chapter is devoted to the working relationship the manager has with his or her boss, and guides the manager into the correct way to respond to the pressures of software project deadlines. Numerous other topics are discussed that are a necessity for anyone seeking to manage the peopleware aspects of software development.
Author has over 30 years of experience in science, engineering, programming, and the management of technical teams.
The book focuses on the people side of leadership. It touches on theory but drills down to practical techniques that can make a difference in leading a team of programmers.
Many true stories from the front lines of managing programmers are related to illustrate key principles.
An annotated bibliography is included to help the new manager expand his intellectual base.
This book is not a dry academic tome on management, but is written with a lively style that engages the reader.
J. Hank Rainwater is the Director of Development for Risk Sciences Group, Inc., a provider of software and services for the insurance industry. In the course of his professional career, he has worked as a research scientist in the fields of radio astronomy techniques and missile guidance systems and published extensively in these fields. As a professional consultant, he has conducted research programs for the Department of Defense, NASA, NSA, CIA and NATO. As an engineer, he has developed and managed both the hardware and software aspects of microprocessor based technology. For the past decade Hank has focused exclusively on the software side of technology, working as a consultant, teacher, programmer and manager of programmers.
From the reviews:
"The book deals with the difficulties of making a number of independently minded programmers work together as a team - a task that has been likened to herding cats. … This is a very readable textbook and touches on many aspects of management. Once you’ve read it you should feel better equipped to cope with all those cats … . If you happen to hate cats, keep an open mind and just accept the phrase as the amusing analogy it is intended to be." (LINUX Magazine, Issue 21, 2002)
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Meet the Author
Hank Rainwater leads programmers who build software for the insurance industry at Risk Sciences Group in Atlanta, Georgia. His career in science and engineering has spanned over three decades and has included writing Fortran programs on punch cards; teaching college mathematics; conducting research in radio astronomy, missile guidance systems, and remote sensing technologies; and managing the building of embedded digital control systems. As a software professional, Hank has served as a consultant, mentor, and teacher of programming languages and has led development teams in several industries.
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