To stay at the top of their games, project managers must constantly evolve and learn about new trends and techniques within the industry.
There are a ton of online courses and classes you can take to do this. But another resource that will keep your skills sharp is project management books.
Books are a great way for project managers to go deep on planning, product design, marketing, and growth to improve their work. The hard part is figuring out the best project management books to read to stay on top of changes and innovations.
Well, we’ve done the heavy lifting for you and found eight of the best books written by experienced project managers and innovators:
Want to know why these product management books made our list? Let’s get reading:
By Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
The first project management book on our list earned its top spot because it is a Teamwork.com favorite.
The ONE Thing is a book about decluttering your work life. It teaches you how to get more done, build momentum within a team to achieve goals, and create a less stressful working environment.
Overall, the book's concept is simple: project managers and companies should focus their energy on one thing at a time instead of trying to multitask. Using this mindset, project managers can center their attention on single tasks (like scheduling, budgets, or missed deadlines) and be more productive in the process.
The book is also worth reading because it works backward. It asks the reader: what do you want to achieve in the next decade? What about the next five years? 1 year? Month? Week?
By working backward, it's easier to understand what you want to achieve in the long run and what practices you can put into your working life today to get there.
You should pick this book up if you: Are already managing projects, but you get distracted and overwhelmed. This book will help you focus on tasks and narrow down what's important not just in your daily work life—but for your career, too.
By Kory Kogon, Suzette Blakemore, and James Wood
This project management book is for the newbie project managers who are just getting started in the industry.
It covers all of the basics: from starting a project to executing, monitoring, and eventually signing off once everything is completed. The book is easy to digest and mixes commonly-used project management language with real-life examples so you can see how scenarios should play out once you get started.
This book is also aimed at employees who occasionally manage projects or tackle projects solo, showing you how to keep everything organized while simultaneously juggling other work.
There are also some really helpful tips for motivating your team, leading effectively, and creating formulas for planning every project in your funnel.
You should pick this book up if you: Have never planned a project in your life, or have been designated the unofficial pick for organizing and delegating tasks to your team. The book is a simple, no-nonsense guide that’ll show you the project management ropes while making sure you can still concentrate on your other responsibilities.
By Gino Wickman and Tom Bouwer
Another Teamwork.com favorite—What the Heck is EOS? is a practical guide for teams who are struggling to integrate EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System) into their companies.
This project management book tackles the basics:
What is an operating system?
What is EOS?
Why is my company using EOS?
What are the EOS foundational tools, how do they impact me, and what’s in it for me?
This book has made it onto the list because it eliminates jargon and explains what EOS is like in everyday language. Everyone from your design team to your marketing and content folks can read this guide and get a real understanding of EOS tools and processes.
Not only are there quick summaries at the end of every chapter (helpful for those skim readers), but it also has progressive chapters that project managers will find helpful for motivating and engaging their teams.
For example, it offers tips on how to ask employees for feedback in order to gauge happiness levels, identify pain points, and motivate creativity. The authors note that simple suggestions can spark conversations and encourage team members to come forward with new ideas and challenge their current working processes.
Once the ideas start flowing, project managers can use the team’s insights to improve workflows and break down internal barriers that may be impacting productivity.
You should pick this book up if you: Are a project manager looking for a better way to engage with your team and onboard new hires. This book explains how to help employees understand why your company uses EOS and how to spark conversations about improving it too.
By Peter Taylor
We’re not encouraging laziness, but what we are advocating for is working smarter—not harder.
In The Lazy Project Manager: How to be Twice as Productive and Still Leave the Office Early, Peter Taylor makes his case for project managers to leave behind traditional workflows and switch to more focused, productive processes.
He argues that "lazy" people have the edge over workaholics because their mindset is focused on a work-life balance. Using this analogy, Taylor outlines that project managers should concentrate on only putting effort into tasks and projects where it really matters so they can train their brains to work smarter.
Key techniques, like the Conscious Competence Model, Moltke’s character types, and stakeholder matrices, are used to show project managers that they can work less by mastering certain principles.
You should pick this book up if you: Are an experienced project manager that's looking for ways to sharpen your skills and cut down time spent on non-productive tasks. Thanks to practical examples, the book illustrates how PMs can be more productive and achieve a better work-life balance.
By Wes Bush
Do you feel like you’re running on a project manager hamster wheel?
If the answer is yes—Product-Led Growth: How to Build a Product That Sells Itself is the project management book for you.
Written by Wes Bush, it includes many of the mistakes that he carried over from his project management background into the world of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). He decided to write it after he woke up one day and started questioning why he had spent $300k () on promoting a whitepaper—with limited success.
It covers everything from project development to customer frameworks, pricing strategies, and product sprints. It's obvious from the title, but the book also has a product-led approach. Bush shows project managers how to grow their business around a product and keep customers by giving them a stellar experience.
You should pick this book up if you: Want a book that tells you (with real-life examples) exactly what you need to do to build a product-led company. It has examples that outline "do this, don't do that," and there are even scripts included to help create email and landing page assets to start converting customers.
By Darrell Rigby, Sarah Elk, and Steve Berez
You probably know agile project management is an uber-popular methodology, but have you really mastered it?
In Doing Agile Right: Transformation Without Chaos, authors Rigby (a thought leader at Bain & Company), Elk, and Berez explain that Agile is only powerful if project managers implement it correctly. That, the authors say, is no easy task.
The project management book challenges what the authors say are common misconceptions among project managers:
Agile isn’t the best solution for every project
Agile isn’t a band-aid for companies having organizational problems
That said, the authors note that project managers can only truly reap the rewards when they master the basics of agile. Thus, the book makes a case for why every project manager should master agile.
Done well, they argue that Agile processes encourage teams to be innovative while staying productive and efficient.
You should pick this book up if you: Are a project manager who hasn't seen the real change that agile promises. You will learn where you are going wrong, what projects you shouldn't use agile to solve, and how to master and scale these techniques within your team.
By Sunil Gupta
If the last 12 months have taught us anything, it's that teams need to adapt to change quickly.
In Driving Digital Strategy: A Guide to Reimagining Your Business, Harvard BusinessSchool Professor Sunil Gupta lays out why he thinks companies should be open—and encouraged—to transform their brands to suit the digital age.
He uses a ton of examples to make his case, for example:
Instead of denying technology, John Deere transformed its farming machinery to include data analysis and encourage innovation.
The New York Times expanded its newspaper operations and is now hugely profitable on its online platform.
These examples represent businesses that would've been doomed had they not reimagined themselves in a new, digital way.
The book outlines every lesson Gupta has witnessed studying Fortune 500 companies—telling you what worked, and what didn't. You will learn how to adapt your business model to build a digital strategy and stay on top of innovations in your industry. Instead of getting left behind, you will learn how to be a frontrunner.
You should pick this book up if you: Are struggling to keep up with the changes and innovations within your industry. The book includes a framework and roadmap to build and maintain a digital strategy and keep pace with your competitors—even when they're moving quickly.
By Douglas R. Conant
The last project management book on our list focuses on leadership skills for project managers.
We chose this particular leadership book as it's written from an interesting perspective—the author (Douglas Conant) was fired from his job. Instead of giving up, he reflected on what was holding him back from reaching his true potential.
During his discovery, he realized that he was doing leadership all wrong. So, he came up with a path that he—and others like him—could use to improve their leadership skills. The path has six steps:
Reach High: Envision
Dig Deep: Reflect
Lay the Groundwork: Study
Conant says leaders can use these steps to manage their teams and transform their companies effectively. The book is also practical: you can use it as a manual and copy the lessons and exercises Conant uses to breathe life into your team.
Be warned: several reviews say that project managers shouldn’t pick up this book if they’re looking for a quick fix. There are no shortcuts—just hard work.
You should pick this book up if you: Want to learn a lasting, transformational strategy for leading your team. The book encourages leaders to be reflective and honest about what they need to improve and then build a framework that brings out the best parts of their management style.