I started trying to read more a couple years ago, and this year I’ve been knocking out some of the most popular engineering management books out there. Since a lot of new and aspiring software managers ask me about this, I figured I would go ahead and put together a list of some of my favorite books for software engineering managers.
The nice thing about software is that it is predictable. Computers do what you expect them to every single time, but figuring out how to make people work together is a lifelong exercise. Peopleware has helped me on my journey to figuring that out. I wrote a more detailed review of Peopleware back in 2015. Click here for more.
“The challenge of scaling up a team can be intimidating…Josh Tyler has spent nearly a decade building teams in high-growth startups [most recently at Course Hero]…He draws on this experience to outline specific, detailed solutions augmented by instructive stories.”
“The Goal is a gripping, fast-paced business novel about overcoming the barriers to making money. You will learn the fundamentals of identifying and solving the problems created by constraints. From the moment you finish the book you will be able to start successfully addressing chronic productivity and quality problems.”
“Few books on software project management have been as influential and timeless as The Mythical Man-Month. With a blend of software engineering facts and thought-provoking opinions, Fred Brooks offers insight for anyone managing complex projects.”
This book covers a variety of engineering topics for managers including:
- Why a manager should consider doing management work.
- How a manager should put together his team.
- The important things to consider when interacting with engineers.
- How to hire top engineers for your startup.
- How to pick engineering leaders.
- How to define processes and when don’t you need them.
“The volume and complexity of knowledge today has exceeded our ability as individuals to properly deliver it to people—consistently, correctly, safely. We train longer, specialize more, use ever-advancing technologies, and still we fail. Atul Gawande makes a compelling argument that we can do better, using the simplest of methods: the checklist.”
“This grandfather of all people-skills books was first published in 1937. It was an overnight hit, eventually selling 15 million copies. How to Win Friends and Influence People is just as useful today as it was when it was first published, because Dale Carnegie had an understanding of human nature that will never be outdated.”
Most of these were really good books, but they just don’t relate quite as directly to engineering management. Still worth looking into if you’re interested in software engineering, startups, leadership, and other related topics.
- The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
- What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard N. Bolles
- How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams
- The Decision Maker by Dennis Bakke
- Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble by Dan Lyons
- Essential Scrum: A Practical Guide to the Most Popular Agile Process by Kenneth S. Rubin
- Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship by Robert Martin
- The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen
Next on my list
I’ll try to remember to update these as I read through them, but here are some of the books next on my reading list:
- Managing Humans: Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering Manager by Michael Lopp
- Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork, and the Myth of Total Efficiency by Tom Demarco
- The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Sean Covey
- Turn the Ship Around: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders by L. David Marquet
- How to Make Sense of Any Mess: Information Architecture for Everybody by Abby Covert
If you have other books that I should put on my reading list, let me hear about them on Twitter.