The best project management books

4 authors have picked their favorite books about project management and why they recommend each book.

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By Stefanie K. Johnson,

Book cover of Inclusify: The Power of Uniqueness and Belonging to Build Innovative Teams

This is the most complete take on how to bring diversity, inclusion, and belonging into your team. This is a very practical guide that shows you how to implement this process step by step. Not only does she explain how to respond to the negative tropes, but she also lays out detailed approaches to make sure your allies and angels do maximum good. A must-read if you want to avoid the common mistakes that bog down this process.

Who am I?

Frans Johansson is the Co-Founder and CEO at The Medici Group, an enterprise solutions firm that helps organizations build and sustain high-performing teams through our revolutionary team coaching platform: Renaissance. Our firm's ethos--diversity and inclusion drive innovation--is informed by our work with over 4,000 teams in virtually every sector and by his two books The Medici Effect and The Click Moment.

My book is...

The Medici Effect

Innovation today is less about expertise and more about how you can rapidly combine insights and ideas, often widely disparate, to create surprising and unique breakthroughs. The Medici Effect is an innovation classic that explores why the most powerful innovation happens at the “Intersection,” where ideas and concepts from diverse industries, cultures, and disciplines collide.

To see how your team can create the Medici Effect, check out the video below! Frans shares how organizations can activate diversity and inclusion to drive innovation and growth.

The Mythical Man-Month

By Frederick P. Brooks Jr,

Book cover of The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering

In the 1970s, Brooks was the leading thinker on managing large software projects in the world, and unexpected delays in completing complex coding tasks were emerging as a costly headache for large organizations. Brooks was considered a software luminary within IBM, which dominated the digital world in the era before the advent of the personal computer.

“In many ways, managing a large computer programming project is like managing any other large undertaking, but in many other ways it is different – in more ways than most professional managers expect,” Brooks dryly declared in the opening lines of a book destined to become a classic. He went on to explore specific challenges in the book’s 15 terse chapters, the second chapter, which gave the title to the entire volume, he presented paradoxical insight that ultimately elevated the book to the status of a classic.

Brooks argued, persuasively and insistently, that adding…

Who am I?

The author was the chief Silicon Valley writer for The Wall Street Journal during the first of the 1990s. He went on to become an acclaimed scholar in the history of science, engineering, and innovation. At the peak of his journalism career, the Boston Globe described Zachary as the most talented reporter on the Journal's staff. Zachary went on to write technology and innovation columns for The New York Times, Technology Review, and Spectrum magazineZachary has also taught courses on science and technology studies at Stanford University, UC Berkeley, and Arizona State University, where he was a professor from 2010-2020. He lives in northern California. 

I wrote...

Showstopper! The Breakneck Race to Create Windows NT and the Next Generation at Microsoft

By G. Pascal Zachary,

Book cover of Showstopper! The Breakneck Race to Create Windows NT and the Next Generation at Microsoft

What is my book about?

Showstopper is an epic techno-scientific creation story, about the making of a complex and sprawling piece of computer code by a team of code writers at what was the iconic software company in the 1990s, Microsoft. The narrative follows an ensemble cast of characters through their trials and triumphs in constructing a breakthrough program called Windows NT, versions of which remain of value today, notably in the field known as cloud computing. At the time of publication in 1994, Showstopper was widely reviewed: called “a compelling tale” by Newsweek, “riveting” by Harvard Business Review and  “gripping” by Fortune magazine. remains in print. With the passage of time, Showstopper gained a cult following among code writers, both because of how the book captures life on the frontlines of computing.

Mastering the Requirements Process

By Suzanne Robertson, James Robertson,

Book cover of Mastering the Requirements Process: Getting Requirements Right

Suzanne and James Robertson have been writing insightful books on software requirements for many years. This book covers all the important topics, including understanding the real problem, different techniques for exploring solutions, and numerous ways to communicate requirements effectively. I especially like their treatment of quality attribute requirements and defining “fit criteria” to judge whether a solution adequately addresses them.

The book includes a comprehensive requirements specification template to guide writing a rigorous and complete specification on projects for which that is valuable. I also appreciate their use of visual models both to communicate with the reader and to guide the reader in communicating requirements to project stakeholders. I do prefer my book Software Requirements, but this is an excellent choice as well by two authorities in the field.

Who am I?

Defining and managing the requirements for a software system is hard! I’ve been interested in improving how projects handle their requirements for more than 35 years. I realized how important this was when I saw how many projects—including my own—struggled and failed when they neglected to build a solid foundation of well-understood and clearly communicated requirements. I’ve personally used nearly all of the techniques described in my book Software Requirements, and I got always better results when I applied those techniques. My books, articles, training courses, presentations, and videos on requirements have been helpful to thousands of business analysts worldwide for many years.

I wrote...

Software Requirements

By Karl Wiegers, Joy Beatty,

Book cover of Software Requirements

What is my book about?

The award-winning Software Requirements is one of the most popular books in this domain. Coauthored with Joy Beatty, it comprehensively addresses the full spectrum of requirements development and management. It provides the broadest coverage of any requirements book.

This pragmatic book is based on my many years of personal experience with requirements as well as having consulted and taught at more than 100 companies. It provides dozens of practical techniques, templates, and work aids for requirements elicitation, analysis, specification, validation, and management. Many real-life stories illustrate how these techniques have been applied effectively. The topics covered also include business rules, data requirements, visual modeling, nonfunctional requirements, and requirements reuse. Other chapters address how to handle requirements on agile, enhancement, data analytics, embedded systems, outsourced, and packaged-solution projects.

The Project 50 (Reinventing Work)

By Tom Peters,

Book cover of The Project 50 (Reinventing Work): Fifty Ways to Transform Every "Task" into a Project That Matters!

This is not an easy book to find. It’s a small and short hardcover book where famed management legend, Tom Peters, lays out the how to turn your personal brand (and your work) into a project… but not just any project. Tom believes that every aspect of your work should be a Wow! Project. The book is 50 easy-to-grasp sections that have, without a doubt, changed my approach to everything from writing an article to starting a business. This book is a hidden gem… I’m quasi-mad that I’m sharing it publicly, it’s been a great secret advantage. ;)

Who am I?

I’ve been creating content since I was a day camp counselor (launching a newsletter for the staff!). Since then, I’ve done everything from interview Motley Crue, Metallica and Nirvana to Tom Peters, Susan Cain and beyond. I started my blog, Six Pixels of Separation, back in 2003 and my podcast (of the same name) is the longest running business podcast in the world. I wrote two books, Six Pixels of Separation and CTRL ALT Delete. With that, I even run a private Facebook group for some of the world’s most known business and non-fiction authors. I’m a word nerd. I collect comics (and graphics) novels and spend too much time reading. I’m also a huge collector of books on writing, how to write, interview with writers, and other content creators. So… what’s going to get your ideas into actionable content? I think these books might help ☺

I wrote...

Six Pixels of Separation: Everyone Is Connected. Connect Your Business to Everyone.

By Mitch Joel,

Book cover of Six Pixels of Separation: Everyone Is Connected. Connect Your Business to Everyone.

What is my book about?

Six Pixels of Separation is my first book. It came out in 2009. That’s over a decade ago. So much has changed in terms of how technology has connected us all, and what that opportunity brings. Looking back on the book, I got so much wrong (think unregulated monopolies), and while I may have been too Pollyanna about the state of new media, the thesis still rings true. The opportunity for all of us to create compelling content, build our business/brand, and connect in powerful ways is more relevant than it was back then. Show up, create great stories and reap the rewards.

Human Resource Champions

By Dave Ulrich,

Book cover of Human Resource Champions

In a recent survey of HR leaders, 80% mentioned that they were continuing to organize their HR department based on the “Ulrich” model. Is there a more impressive recommendation for the impact of this book, and Dave’s research and writing? In HR Champions, Ulrich points out the importance of three types of HR work: business partners, specialists, and shared services. In a recent HR Management article, that model was expanded to include a fourth category: project management. Technology is obviously a much bigger factor in HR work since 1996 when the book was first published. But, this oldie but goodie has aged extraordinarily well and continues to be relevant and insightful. If you are in HR or interested in talent management at scale, this book has to be on your list.

Who am I?

The future of talent management is now. I’m a teacher, consultant, and board member who is deeply interested in the social and economic impact of the freelance revolution. Millions of people around the world are now working for themselves as independent professionals or “solopreneurs”. Millions more are taking on freelance assignments to augment their income or increase their expertise and experience. Technology makes it possible for professionals in many fields to work remotely and free themselves from the limitations of their local economy. These benefits organizations by offering greater access to talent and gives professionals greater access to opportunity. 

I wrote...

Agile Talent: How to Source and Manage Outside Experts

By Jon Younger, Norm Smallwood,

Book cover of Agile Talent: How to Source and Manage Outside Experts

What is my book about?

Companies are gaining advantage through a new capability -- strategic use of external experts -- made possible by technology and the globalization of talent. Leaders everywhere recognize that "lean," "agile," and "fast" strategies require new ways to access and leverage--without owning--key talent to fill critical gaps. As managers seek nontraditional sources of strategic talent and experiment with fast, flexible ways of engaging these experts, they need a new roadmap.

This book delivers that roadmap. It tells you how to assess, choose, attract, develop, support, and retain your external talent. Authored by thought leaders and bestselling authors in leadership and talent management who teach and consult globally, Agile Talent reveals how companies such as Apple, Uber, Airbnb, Google, IBM, and Bain Capital organize and manage new forms of talent in innovative ways. Supported by survey data and packed with tools and templates for applying these ideas, this book is the ultimate guide for winning the next war for talent.

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