Project management is a very broad subject, so it is no wonder that the market abounds in a lot of books focusing on managing projects, selecting methodology, forming teams and the like. Some of these books surprise and delight, some bring nothing new to the topic. Therefore, we decided to choose 10 interesting publications worth reading. Below we present our list.
Difficult handbooks and easy readings
Our list is not limited by any strict rules. It includes copious handbooks, very scientific in nature, as well as a bit smoother books: oftentimes written with some of humour, but equally valuable and worth attention of each and every project manager.
The order of the listed books does not matter.
1. Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days
Braden Kowitz, Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky
This is one of the best handbooks for project management there is. This is so as it is written in a simple and smooth language in the first place. The publication is more of a corporate story than a handbook, even though it contains a lot of knowledge. The “sprint” mentioned in the title refers to managing projects and testing new products in five days. It is an MVP building handbook to some extent, it fits all projects and all business branches.
2. Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers
This is another publication that stands out from other scientific books. Ferriss became popular thanks to his book entitled The 4-Hour Workweek, but it is the Tools of Titans that have become one of the books that, even though not focusing on project management at all times, help running and managing them. For over two years, the author held over 200 interviews with actors, celebrities, managers, people from business and show business. Out of these, he took interesting stories and examples, which form an out-of-line handbook for learning how to think in project-related terms.
3. The Lean Product Playbook: How to Innovate with Minimum Viable Products and Rapid Customer Feedback
Dan Olscen is one of the most recognisable product managers in the business. His book is a collection of great examples. First and foremost, it focuses on the Lean methodology. It also shows examples from real life supported by analytical data and indicators, which help in the process of product optimisation. Although the examples described by the author focus mostly on IT and devices such as hardware, mobile devices and the like, the knowledge can be easily translated into other business branches. It results from the fact that the hints included in the book refer to a wide range of business contexts, including B2C and B2B.
4. Design a Better Business: New Tools, Skills, and Mindset for Strategy and Innovation
This is quite an extraordinary book, not only due to its structure. For instance, it contains “passes”, that is pages resembling flight tickets. They present the thrust of a given idea. These data are provided in a nutshell and do not require a deeper analysis of a chapter, but it is recommended to do so to fully understand a given problem. What is the important, though, is that Design a Better Business includes 8 chapters, 48 case studies, 20 tools, 7 basic skills, 29 projects, 36 tricks and 150 graphics. All this injects us with knowledge necessary to manage projects.
5. The Startup Owner’s Manual: The Step-By-Step Guide for Building a Great Company
Steve Blank and Bod Dorf
Although the handbook has “startup” in its title, it should be read by every manager and boss of small and large business alike. Over 600 pages contain knowledge gathered from many years of work of both authors. It has over 100 charts, nearly 80 checklists and a lot of other content that will allow avoiding the 9 project-killing sins, teach us how to release products in cooperation with clients and show various types of management. What is more, the book does it comprehensively, clearly and, most importantly, with a lot of content.
6. Getting Things Done
This is yet another book related to project management: to be more exact, it focuses on productivity and completion of tasks, even these smallest ones. Getting Things Done shows how to organise tasks with simple lists and structures. It is important to have a well-organised structure to be able to introduce ideas without delay and trust individual units the structure is built of. A lot of experienced managers state that, thanks to Allen’s methodology, it is much easier for them to implement new tasks and that everything flows without unnecessary disturbances.
7. Brilliant Project Management, what the best project managers know, do and say
Thanks to an engaging approach, the book not only describes processes and tasks, but also gives practical advice and methods borrowed from experienced people who had to overcome a lot of problems themselves. Therefore, after we read the book we will know what solutions we can use, how to conduct deployment and what to do for our project to be a success. Brilliant Project Management underlines the areas where our decisions and behaviours will have an effect on whether we fail, achieve a mediocre result or succeed tremendously.
8. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)–Sixth Edition)
collective work of PMI
PMI, or Project Management Institute, is a non-profit organisation which has been operating on the international market since 1969. Its mission is to standardise project management procedures. In fact, the book is an encyclopaedia containing knowledge for all those who want to attain one of the certificates offered by PMI. It is nearly 800 pages of pure knowledge on processes, projects, procedures etc. The publication reflects the current condition of the profession of PM. It is intended virtually for all readers, people involved in the practice of project management. It will be a good reading for students in their academic quests, for teachers and coaches in their teaching practice, for certificate applicants in obtaining the certification and for professionals in obtaining the latest news on how to best implement projects in various enterprises and business branches and on various scales.
9. Project Management Absolute Beginner’s Guide
Gregory Horine is a professional with over twenty years of experience in IT project management. The book is intended for fresh project managers who need to start working but do not have full knowledge on project management. It covers the entire project lifecycle, but concentrates on planning, control and task completion in the first place.
10. Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters
Rumlet shows what the kernel of good management strategy is. It consists of three elements: diagnostics, leading policy and coherent action. Leading policy specifies the approach to overcoming obstacles identified during diagnostics. It is like a signpost determining the direction of work. Coherent action includes feasible and coordinated moves and decisions concerning the resources of an enterprise, which aim to implement the leading policy.
The kernel is not a magical formula. This is a guide through hard work to be done to create a strategy. As Rumelt notes in his book, a lot of things can be misinterpreted as strategy. Plans, slogans and goals may seem like it until you analyse them with a tool such as the kernel methodology.
This is where we end our subjective list. These are 10 books concerning project management genuinely worth reading: they provide knowledge, teach and even entertain at times. Some of the authors let go of the rigid academic language in favour of smoother communication with the reader. Have a good read!