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

Mickey W. Mantle / Ron Lichty  
Total pages
December 2019

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Managing the Unmanageable: Rules, Tools, and Insights for Managing Software People and Teams
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Even today, many software projects still run catastrophically over schedule and budget; some organizations simply conclude that software development can’t be managed well. But it can -- and it starts with people. In their eagerly awaited, extensively updated  Managing the Unmanageable, Second Edition, Mickey W. Mantle and Ron Lichty show students how software managers can hire and develop programmers and build teams that are truly, consistently manageable.

This book guides students in: 
  • Hiring the right people
  • Motivating them
  • Building a culture of excellence
  • Managing “up” to gain buy-in from the executive suite
  • Leading your teams to deliver outstanding products -- consistently on time and budget
Significant updates in this edition include:
  • A new chapter on software management in agile environments, with modern agile coverage woven in throughout the book
  • Solutions for managing your youngest developers (beyond millennials)
  • Making the most of today’s developer recruiting tools
  • Achieving quick wins by onboarding more effectively
  • Expanded coverage of managing (and removing) problem employees


  • Now reflects modern agile environments and their challenges throughout
  • Offers proven, real-world guidance for hiring, day-to-day management, and building a better software culture
  • Based on the authors’ 80 years of in-the-trenches experience at top firms including Apple and Pixar, and their nearly 100 talks on these subjects
  • Includes updated coverage of recruitment, onboarding, generational styles, managing poor performers, and much more

New to this Edition

Extensive Second Edition updates include:
  • Brand-new chapter on managing in modern agile environments, with updated agile coverage throughout the book
  • Updated coverage of generational styles to cover the next generation beyond millennials
  • New and improved recruitment/hiring tools, including LinkedIn, GitHub, AngelList, Stack Overflow, GlassDoor,,, and Lever
  • Data-driven guidance on quickly improving programmer performance through better onboarding
  • Expanded discussion of managing poor performers and problem employees -- and removing them when they don’t improve
  • Refined coverage of establishing a successful programming culture and managing agile delivery

Table of Contents

  • Chapter 1: Why Programmers Seem Unmanageable
  • Chapter 2: Understanding Programmers
  • Chapter 3: Finding and Hiring Great Programmers
  • Chapter 4: Getting New Programmers Started Off Right
  • Chapter 5: Becoming an Effective Programming Manager: Managing Down
  • Chapter 6: Becoming an Effective Programming Manager: Managing Up, Out, and Yourself
  • Chapter 7: Motivating Programmers
  • Chapter 8: Establishing a Successful Programming Culture
  • Chapter 9: Managing Successful Software Delivery
  • Chapter 10: If You Are Agile, What Do Managers Do?


Mickey W. Mantle has been developing software for more than forty years as a software and hardware product creator, manager, and executive for companies that include Evans & Sutherland, Pixar, Broderbund, and Gracenote. He currently develops mobile/tablet applications, writes, and consults.

Ron Lichty has been developing software for thirty years, most of them as a programming manager, director of development, and vice president of products and engineering for companies that include Apple, Fujitsu, Razorfish, and Schwab. He has written four books and hundreds of articles. He consults with startups and companies large and small to unravel the knots in software development and make it hum.