Books on Management

June 12, 2019

A couple months ago I was dumpster diving in the Twitter Explore tab and stumbled across a list of “Management book recommendations” from Alex MacCaw.

I don’t know or follow Alex MacCaw but I instinctfully clicked thru to his compiled list of books. One of my reading aspirations this year was “Be Better at Business.” I was intentionally a bit broad on this objective so that I could read a wide variety of books on programming, sexism in tech, quick A Book Apart design books, Agile development processes, and so on. I like to create broad reading goals so I can be a bit more exploratory.

Management books fit nicely into this year’s goal. I do a bit of managing in my day-to-day, but due to the size and familiarity of our team it tends to be more holocratic and not very top-down. I also spend a lot of my time being managed. I’ve mentioned it before, but whenever I encounter the suboptimal version of something (e.g. Management or Agile), I get a bit consumed with curiosity and spend a lot of brain cycles trying to figure out the optimal or intended version. I want to remove the tarnish from my perspective due a bad implementation.

I also want to do a decent job and be a good steward of the management responsibilities I currently do possess. Bad management has costs. I’ve seen first hand companies hemorrhage good talent due to bad management.

Twitter’s algorithm must be working because this list of management books piqued my interest. I took that Google Doc and pulled it into a Notion (natch, 😉). I started researching each one. I was pleased to find I’ve already read some of the books on the list and lots of these books are available on Libby, my library app.

So far I’ve hit 6 of the top 10 from that list. It’s been hit or miss. One was a masturbatory power fantasy where a wise old manager trains a young apprentice. One was written by a football coach, it might be good, but I’m going to hard pass on some sports metaphors. And one I quit because it reeked of Silicon Valley privilege. But the quest continues and I have a good cadence of audiobook holds coming my way from the Library. Obviously, management books are a broad and endless category so I’ll have to cut it off somewhere but I think if I read ~20 of these books, I’d feel pretty well rounded in some of my understanding.

A few of the books I’m looking forward to most:

My ultimate goal here is own those pantone Harvard Business Review books I see in the airport that I feel compelled to buy but have no reason to buy whatsoever. Are they any good? Who knows! But the typesetting is nice.

As always, if you have any recommendations or want to +1 something from the list, I’d love to hear it. Especially if you’ve found yourself changing roles and diving into management in the last few years.