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After experiencing quite a lot of problems with our small project's manager (we're a startup, and he's the only guy who has the appropriate education; the rest of us are programmers), we have finally identified the cause of our troubles: his understanding of the inner works of our project is limited, as is his understanding of a normal software development workflow. He has expressed the desire to quickly learn and to fill these gaps; however, I don't really know what books, articles or blogs to recommend to him.

In short, can you recommend a good reading for a manager-type person who is not going to be a developer himself, but needs to understand web application development process well enough to understand our explanations when he requests them?

P.S. No, kicking him and finding another manager is not an option at this moment.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I think the perfect candidate for your guy is a book.

alt text

Very valuable. If he wants to go further, I highly suggest him to read on:

Agile Estimating and Planning

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1) Does this book discuss technical aspects as well, or does it focus on development techniques? 2) Why did you use the StackOverflow advertising platform to answer this question? A simple link to Amazon entries would be sufficient. –  dpq Oct 6 '10 at 10:32
David, I did use the P.SE image insert feature. Maybe they have some system to replace links to amazon with their own affiliate system. Clever! Regarding the technical question, no it's not, but it will definitely helps him understand. –  user2567 Oct 6 '10 at 10:49

I have found through experience that recommending a certain book as a starting point tends to stem the flow of communication. At this point, you and your team need to divulge whatever information the manager can handle to bring them up to speed quickly. 'Choking them' by asking them to digest a book will make them go quiet for a long time (while they read), and they may also react emotively to being brushed off - you're implicitly stating "you couldn't possibly understand this stuff unless you've read and understood everything in this book".

You and your team are likely focussed at a detail level and the new manager needs a 10,000 ft view of the system until they have a working understanding of it all and can dive in.

One approach would be to get get a large dry-marker board for you and a notepad and pen for the manager, go to a quiet area and start drawing block/process diagrams of:

  1. The High Level Design of the product.
  2. The software development workflow that you use.
  3. Issues that arise in day-to-day activities and ways of mitigating them. Think problems with scale, performance, accuracy, security, etc.

In explaining these items, you may well find that the manager can get his head around a portion of the details but has big holes in their understanding of some parts. Those would be the parts to direct them a book/article/video so that they could research more.

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Thanks! I never thought about it in this perspective. –  dpq Oct 6 '10 at 16:06

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