Manage It! Your Guide to Modern, Pragmatic Project Management by Johanna Rothman is the best project management reference I’ve ever read, and I’ve seen my share of project management tomes. Here’s what I like best about the book: it’s not theological. By this I mean Rothman doesn’t advocate one “true” way of running projects. She is very careful to be continually cognizant of context when she talks about different approaches you might take. In this sense, she is very situational about prescribing solutions, which I like because it helps a project manager develop what I think is a critical attribute of a good project manager: good judgment.
One of my favorite chapters is Recognizing and Avoiding Schedule Games, which uses comic art and prose to explain and fix schedule games that can occur on projects. Here are a few from the book:
and so on, for a total of 16 entertaining schedule games that every project manager eventually needs to face.
Rothman is an entertaining writer with a knack for interesting prose and practical advice. Unlike most PM books I’ve read, I’ve not found anything yet where I was inclined to ignore her advice or felt an approach would require too much work and yield too little benefit. She definitely has a propensity toward simple, sustainable approaches to project management, something I sincerely appreciate due to my strong disdain for any approach with substantial overhead.
Another great feature of this book is you can read it out of order, either by opening it randomly or by simply reading the sections that interest you at the moment or that apply to problems you are struggling with.
Buy it. Try it. It’s worth it.