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Topics: Career Development, New Practitioners
PM fundamentals book recommendations
Our staff development manager wants to assemble some titles in the company lending library related to PM. Since I've always been a trainer and practitioner working from PMI standards, exam prep materials, and custom-developed courses on PM concepts and practices, I haven't been looking for titles that provide a good introduction to the subject of project management. If you were to recommend one or two books for a manager or aspiring leader to get an overview of PM concepts BEFORE embarking on a formal training course such as CAPM exam prep, what would it be?

My initial searches through Amazon books turn up mixed reviews, publications over 10 years old, or advanced content not suitable for someone needing "PM for beginners". Something that boils down the "PMBOK Guide" and "Agile Practice Guide" would be nice, but I think I may just go back to suggesting we do some workshops and skip the idea that people can learn what they need from a book alone.
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"PM 101 According to the Olde Curmudgeon" is a good one, as is Neal Whitten's "No-Nonsense Advice for Successful Projects" but reading about PM is not as effective to learn as practicing PM.

Use the 10-20-70 learning model.

10% formal, 20% relationship (e.g. mentoring/coaching), 70% experiential (e.g. on-the-job learning).

For the first, you could also look at quality fundamentals workshops. A 3 day offering similar to the Project Management Essentials course which I deliver would be a good option.

Kiron
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1 reply by Shannon Mollenhauer
Apr 01, 2020 12:18 PM
Shannon Mollenhauer
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Thanks for those titles, Kiron. I hadn't come across either one in my searches. I totally agree with the 10-20-70 concept. Unfortunately, the org sometimes skips the 10 and 20 altogether and goes for the sink or swim approach then wonders why things aren't going well and asks a trained and experienced PM to untangle the mess. I've got a set of intro, planning, and controlling courses I can deliver but the org doesn't like people taking work time to attend training, even if it's "free" in house, even when the benefits outweigh the raw labor spent. Sidetrack.
Apr 01, 2020 10:17 AM
Replying to Kiron Bondale
...
"PM 101 According to the Olde Curmudgeon" is a good one, as is Neal Whitten's "No-Nonsense Advice for Successful Projects" but reading about PM is not as effective to learn as practicing PM.

Use the 10-20-70 learning model.

10% formal, 20% relationship (e.g. mentoring/coaching), 70% experiential (e.g. on-the-job learning).

For the first, you could also look at quality fundamentals workshops. A 3 day offering similar to the Project Management Essentials course which I deliver would be a good option.

Kiron
Thanks for those titles, Kiron. I hadn't come across either one in my searches. I totally agree with the 10-20-70 concept. Unfortunately, the org sometimes skips the 10 and 20 altogether and goes for the sink or swim approach then wonders why things aren't going well and asks a trained and experienced PM to untangle the mess. I've got a set of intro, planning, and controlling courses I can deliver but the org doesn't like people taking work time to attend training, even if it's "free" in house, even when the benefits outweigh the raw labor spent. Sidetrack.
Hi Shannon,
First of all, I apologise for the lack of photo and missing profile information. I've joined today so it's a work in progress.
Secondly, this is a really great question and I am at the other end of it as I would like to jump from my current position into a project management one. Alas, so far in my company there are no opportunities to shadow a PM, so I'm trying by myself to cover the 10% of the process.
One book I'm in the middle of is Project Management for Dummies by Stanley E. Portny. It's really extremely condensed and you need to spend a lot of time making notes, reviewing each chapter, etc. But, if you are involved in a project (as I am as an SME) then you can exercise your imagination and connect the theory in the book with the reality in the project you're involved in.
PM for Dummies is a good one. I also like Project Management for Humans by Brett Harned. (I've written a couple of books myself, but not aimed at the beginner audience you are talking about).
Making Things Happen by Scott Berkun is another great one (my copy is quite old, perhaps there's a new edition?)
I found Tom Peter's Project 50 a good read to introduce the role of project management with a focus on stakeholders, governance and politics.
Also, think about Kerzner's compendium, which can serve as a reference to many project management principles and concepts (A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling and Controlling, 12th Ed.).

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