Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Project Management Reading Suggestions

A couple of the comments on my recent post about project management indicated that some people would like to read more about the topic. Eventually, I'll write a post about how I got into the field, but I don't have time to do that tonight. So instead, I'll give you a short list of things other people have written about project management that I like.

First, Atul Gawande's The Checklist Manifesto is probably the best explanation I've ever read of why we need project management- even though most of the book isn't explicitly about the topic. However, one of the most important aspects of project management is making sure that teams don't forget to do things, and that topic is discussed at length in The Checklist Manifesto. As an added bonus, it will make you feel better about being the sort of person who writes a lot of lists.

For the actual nuts and bolts of project management, my favorite book is The Art of Project Management, by Scott Berkun. It is written for software projects, but I think people who are running other types of projects will probably pick up some good ideas from it.

I also like some of the management-centric posts on the Rands in Repose blog. Again, though, this has a software focus.

I don't find the PMP (Project Management Professional) materials particularly useful for day to day project management on the types of projects I run. However, if you're interested in managing projects for a government contractor or a large pharmaceutical company, you'll probably need to get PMP certified. To be fair, there are some concepts in there that you could argue I use- but I would argue back that I was doing those things before I'd ever heard about PMP. (I am not PMP certified, but I have taken training classes that aim to prepare students for getting the certification.) I have no specific recommendations for PMP materials, but there are lots of them.

Finally, I have always argued that some aspects of parenting have a lot in common with project management- in both cases, you're trying to get people to do things on your schedule, and frankly, some of my past colleagues were about as easy to argue with as my two year old.  And apparently, I am not the only one who sees the similarity between parenting and project management. So you could also read some parenting books... And all joking aside, I think Faber and Mazlish's classic Siblings Without Rivalry is one of the most useful management books I've ever read. Replace "siblings" with "team members" and you're good to go!


  1. I *really* should get some sleep but had to comment as this topic is near and dear to my heart. (I feel another Cloud-inspired blog post coming on...)

    Your post was full of my colleagues (or ex-colleagues, as the case may be). I don't actually know them in person :)

    Thanks for the Hanselman link. I read his blog occasionally, but mostly for the non-technical stuff.

    I should probably try to read the Berkun book. I just can't get past the fact that the one time I saw him speak, it was AWFUL. Boring, full of himself, and not that useful. I remember thinking *I* could be a famous PM speaker if that's all it took. Maybe it was an off day ;) He's friends with people I know so I should probably give him another chance.

    My favorite PM book is one that I can't remember the title for - it's something like like the "Fast and Easy MBA Guide to Project Management". Easy read, and tons of useful templates and tips.

    Also, your post gave me some enlightenment on why I'd probably be happy as a SAHM. I love the day to day nitty gritty details of project management. And it is very similar to my days at home with BabyT. Huh, cool.

    I should add SWR to my reading list, for work purposes :)

  2. Do a search on YouTube for Sh*t Project Managers say. It's hilarious :)

  3. I am thinking I need to read Siblings without Rivalry again after a major biting episode last night. Yikes. Hopefully that never happens on the work projects :)

  4. @Laura- Pumpkin was a biter. It is such a frustrating thing to deal with! In her case, I think she lacked the ability to handle her anger/frustration any other way. We eventually got her to stop- it was a combination of our day care's response and us "playing it out" with stuffed animals.

    But Siblings without Rivalry is a great book! I got so many good ideas from reading it. I want to re-read it now that my girls are older and starting to play together a bit.

    1. I agree. Siblings without Rivalry is a really nice book.

      project management


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