Top 5 Books for New Software Managers

Just made the switch from dev to team lead or manager?  Below are my top 5 favorite books that will give you a jump start on the management track.  You’ll find that these books are constantly referenced by other managers.  They vary from business strategy, process, to general leadership skills.

Here are my Top 5:

  The First 90 Days – by Michael Watkins

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This book is all about transitions.  Whether you are just starting out at a new company, or are moving into a different group/position within the same company, this book is a classic that will walk you through proven strategies to ensure a successful transition.  This book claims (and I totally agree) that the first 90 days set the tone for your entire career, and getting off to the right start is critical to success.  I find myself frequently referencing this book for tips on handling various mgmt situations.  The section on diagnosing your current situation alone is priceless.

 

The Innovator’s Dilemma – by Clayton M. Christensen

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If you haven’t read this book yet, buy it right now!  It’s a classic that managers love to reference in as many meeting as possible to sound smart.  This book coined the term ‘disruptive innovation’.  Basically, the ‘dilemma’ is that as companies try to do all the right things they end up getting screwed by more nimble startups.  Solution?  Build a startup within your startup.  This book provides a great framework for analyzing innovations in an organization, which can be beneficial to understanding your own business’s product strategy.

 

The Lean Startup – by Eric Ries

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The most recent book on my list, and this one already feels like a timeless classic.  This book takes the principles of Lean Manufacturing (check out The Toyota Way, by Jeffrey Liker)  and applies them to software product development.  Terms like ‘pivoting’ your organization and ‘minimal viable product’ were coined by Eric Ries.  I’ve found that MVP gets thrown around the office way too much, mainly as an excuse to create a shitty product.  It’s better to read the message from the horses mouth.  It’s all about reducing the time to getting actual customer feedback and create the ‘build, measure, learn’ cycle.  There are a good number of youtube talks with Eric Ries available.  Also, check out the lean startup site here (http://theleanstartup.com/principles) for some more info.

 

Crossing the Chasm – by Geoffrey A. Moore

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Crossing the Chasm is a marketing book.  It’s all about the technology adoption lifecycle, the various personas at each stage, and how to market to them.  Terms like ‘early adopters’ and ‘laggards’ that are frequently thrown around the office were coined in this book.




 

How to Win Friends and Influence People – by Dale Carnegie

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I was initially turned off by the title of this book.  At first I thought it was a book about how to manipulate people.  In fact, this is a book about human psychology.  As a new leader, it’s critical for you to learn the skill of influencing others.  Influence is not the same thing as manipulation, though it can seem to be a fine line at times.  Basically, you need to learn the skill of understanding others points of view, and how to communicate effectively with various personalities.

 

These are my top 5 must reads for all new managers.  What other books do you recommend?

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