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Managing the Unmanageable

Rules, Tools and Insights for Managing Software People and Teams

Mickey W. Mantle

Wanderful, Inc.

October 25, 10:00–18:30
In English with translation to Russian

About workshop

This one-day master workshop is based upon material from the book Managing the Unmanageable, written by Mickey W. Mantle and Ron Lichty and published by Addison-Wesley. The authors of this book have distilled the most important information in the book and created this workshop for software development managers, software team leads, programmers who aspire to become managers, project managers, and those who manage departments of programmers – as well as other Managers, Directors, or C-level executives who rely on programmers to deliver projects that are critical to their organization’s success and want to learn more about how to manage programmers successfully.

This workshop will inform, engage, and delight its attendees, driving home key messages from their book by:

  • Peppering managing precepts with software rules of thumb
  • Engaging the audience in interactive learning
  • Conducting hands-on activities that translate theory into practice
  • Soliciting audience stories and experiences for real-world input
  • Digging into tools provided with the workshop along with tips on customizing them for personal use


The following provides a sample outline of the key topics covered and the time allocated to each during this one-day master workshop:


  1. Managing and Software Development
    1. Introductions
      1. Audience survey – background and training?
      2. Why Training?
      3. Audience survey: valuable, impactful training you’ve taken / would recommend?
    2. Managing, Coaching, Leading – a philosophy
    3. Rules of Thumb (and Nuggets of Wisdom) and their value
    4. Audience survey: Best manager you’ve ever had?
    5. Why programmers seem unmanageable
      1. What do programmers do?
      2. What did programmers do before there were computers?
      3. Why is managing programmers so hard?
      4. Audience survey – Is managing programmers harder than other engineers?
  2. Managing and Agile
    1. The problem with Agile Training: Where Is the Manager?
    2. Agile Management Roles
    3. Exercise: how manager roles change with agile
    4. Challenge for the rest of the day: understand your role


  1. Understanding Programmers
    1. Programming disciplines
    2. Types of programmers
    3. Domain expertise
    4. Proximity and relationship
    5. Generational styles
    6. Personality types
    7. Audience Survey – other types?
  2. Finding and Hiring Great Programmers
    1. Determining what kind of programmer to hire
    2. The job description
    3. Selling the hire
    4. Recruiting Full-Time Employees (FTEs)
    5. Recruiting contractors
    6. Reviewing resumes
    7. Interviewing
    8. Making the decision to hire
    9. Making the right offer
    10. Follow-up until the programmer accepts
    11. Audience Survey – good and bad hiring practices?
  3. Getting New Programmers Started Off Right
    1. Audience Survey – first day experiences?
    2. Get them on board early
    3. Prep for their arrival
    4. First day musts
    5. Introductions
    6. Ensuring success
    7. Setting initial expectations
    8. Audience Survey – additional musts?

12:30–12:45 Coffee break


  1. Becoming an Effective Programming Manager: Managing Down
    1. The Transition: from programmer to manager
    2. Earning technical respect
    3. Hire great programmers
    4. Turbocharge the team you have
    5. Managing different types of programmers
    6. Facilitation and protection
    7. Judging and improving performance
      1. be careful what you reward
    8. Counseling, coaching and mentoring
    9. Audience Survey – performance reviews?
    10. Organizational thinking
      1. Staffing – full-time vs. contractors; in-house vs. outside
      2. Organizing – office vs. virtual; small vs. large teams
    11. Dysfunctional organizations
      1. process
      2. communication
      3. culture
      4. planning
      5. rigor
      6. problem employees
    12. Deliver results and celebrate success
    13. Audience Survey – great programmers?
    14. Audience Survey – how are we doing?

14:00–14:30 Lunch


  1. Managing Up, Out, and Yourself
    1. Managing Up
    2. Managing Out
    3. Managing Yourself
      1. Audience Survey – Managing Yourself?
      2. Style
      3. Time and priority management
      4. Communications management
      5. Management practices
      6. Follow-up management
      7. Find a mentor
  2. Motivating Programmers
    1. Audience Survey – best motivation = money?
    2. Motivational theories
      1. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
      2. McGregor’s X-Y Theory
      3. Herzberg’s Motivation and Hygiene Factors
    3. Putting theory into practice
      1. Modified Herzberg’s Motivation Factors
    4. Foundational factors
    5. Key motivating factors
    6. Personal Commitment
    7. Technology offense and defense
    8. Start understanding your programmer’s motivations on day one
    9. Audience Survey – other motivating factors?

16:00–16:15 Coffee break


  1. Establishing a Successful Programming Culture
    1. Define “successful”
    2. Programming Cultures
    3. Company Cultures
    4. Agile Cultures
    5. Characteristics of Successful Programming Cultures
    6. Audience Survey – programming cultures?


  1. Managing Successful Software Delivery
    1. Defining the project
    2. Planning the work – waterfall, agile, or wagile?
    3. Estimating Exercise – Eating Fruit game
    4. Kicking off the plan
    5. Executing the work
      1. productivity and throughput
      2. multitasking exercise
      3. removing impediments
      4. capacity and slack
    6. Sprint Estimating Exercise & Retrospecting – Agile Ball Passing game
    7. Running the end game
    8. Delivering the software
    9. Audience Survey – Successful agile development processes?
  2. If we’re agile, why do we need managers?
    1. Supporting Agile Values
    2. Empowering Self-Organization and Excellence
    3. Review Agile Manager Roles exercise with fresh eyes


  1. Wrap-up
    1. Audience Survey – other management practices?
    2. Question and answer session

About the instructor

Mickey W. Mantle

Mickey W. Mantle

CEO, Wanderful, Inc.

Author of Managing the Unmanageable: Rules, Tools and Insights for Managing Software People and Teams. Mickey’s 40 year career includes numerous award-winning landmark consumer software products in music, games, computer animation, graphics and education, as well as management of large international teams at several marquee Silicon Valley companies, including Pixar, SONY/Gracenote and Broderbund Software.

More recently, Mickey founded Wanderful Inc., a leading publisher of interactive children’s storybook apps for mobile tablets and phones. Additionally, he is a mentor to several Silicon Valley startups, as well as a co-author of Managing the Unmanageable and recognized authority on software development and management.

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