My Favorite 10 Practical “Management” Books
I listed these up in an email to someone but maybe it’s best I blog them instead so I can remember them later. I’m not a big believer in the “first 100 days” or “first 90 days” books that people give to leaders at scale anymore. Nor do I belive in the Drucker books, too — although they are delicious to read and all, but they were crafted during a different era. So the books I recommend to folks cover things that the typical Harvard MBA blah-blah-blah might not really tell you about. Enjoy! — JM
For the basic managerial things, it’s useful to consider how the product-developer-designer triangle implicitly implies a difference in points-of-view, so you should expect that these three types of people experience organizations differently. Thus I recommend you read from these three points of view as a way to best triangulate how you work and behave as someone who will work with these three types of folks: developer, designer, product manager.
- The Manager’s Path: A Guide for Tech Leaders Navigating Growth and Change by Camille Fournier / Why? Because developers think a certain way.
- The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You by Julie Zhou / Why? Because designers think a certain way.
- Product Leadership: How Top Product Managers Launch Awesome Products and Build Successful Teams by Richard Banfield, Martin Eriksson, Nate Walkingshaw / Why? Because product managers think a certain way.
The easiest book to read about how to address imbalance in products (and organizations that make products) today is by Kat Holmes, entitled Mismatch. Here are my three picks as you start to head in this direction — and I definitely recommend that you learn about age-ism if you don’t know about it already. In my early 30s I got to work with AARP and it showed me an important world that I was fully prepared to enter, luckily.
- A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns by Archie Bongiovanni / Why? Because this is now.
- So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo / Why? I don’t need to tell you.
- The Longetivity Economy: Unlocking the World’s Fastest-Growing, Most Misunderstood Market by Joseph Coughlin / Why? Because aging is a universal diversity issue for the futur.
People are interesting and complex, and they’re not complicated at all. They’re just complex — which means that they will act and behave unpredictably. So these three books are my current favs in this category of people.
- No Hard Feelings: The Secret Power of Embracing Emotions at Work by Liz Fosslien & Mollie West Duffy / Why? Because … people.
- Intrinsic Motivation at Work: Building Energy and Commitment by Kenneth W. Thomas / Why? Because … you guessed it … people.
- Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott / Why? It explains what got you to where you are, but won’t really fit everyone who isn’t like you but it’s good to remember.
This is my go-to medicine when I am feeling down, or else have been beaten down. So that I can get back up. It always works for me. Maybe it will work for you.
- Self Renewal: The Individual and the Innovative Society by John W. Gardner / Why? Because every manager/leader needs to renew themselves to get back to work. And this is the best piece in the world to do just that.
Another quick bit of medicine that works well in this category is remembering what Nelson Mandela said, “Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”