Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness
This is a list of 25 of some of the best books that the most effective Microsoft leaders read and do. They don’t just read the books. They actually learn the material. And more importantly, they actually do what’s inside.
I mentor a lot of people, and I have a lot of mentors. The list below is a compilation of the key books that keep coming up time and again, that really make a difference in the success of the most successful leaders at Microsoft.
If you want to lead at a higher level, these are the books that help you take your game to the next level …
25 Books that the Most Successful Leaders at Microsoft Read:
I kept the list above simple and trim so you can scan it fast. Below I provided some brief notes on each book, to help you better understand why these are the books that really make a difference:
Additional Resources If you’ want more extreme lists on the best books that help you improve your success in work and life, check out these book lists:
Great list - thank you JD!
Let me ask you something. I'm sure you've come across the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) concept. It seems to be very popular - many books say it's essential for success. Is it? Domino's famously _had_ the USP of "30 minutes or it's free." Did Pizza Hut, Papa Johns, Little Caesars or the billion independent places, who are also successful, need a USP?
I'm working with a business owner - he sells dresses for little girls online - he's desperate for a USP. I can't help thinking he's wasting his time trying to find one. By definition, a USP is unique - that is, difficult to find. Then when he finds it, how long until somebody copies it? Then it's just an SP. Or, if he finds it, who says anybody will care about it?
Interesting list. I haven't heard of most of these books before. I liked this selection.
@ Tom -- Thank you!
I'll need to elaborate a bit here because USP is an key topic, and challenging to do well.
Interestingly, the USP concept is in The Perfect Resume.
On the customer/user side ...
A USP done well, plants you in the minds of customers in a special position, so that you don't have to compete as a commodity. For example, "Dresses for Daddy's little girl" would be different than just "girl's dresses." And that would be very different than "What the cool girl's wear." Starbucks sells "the experience" since there's only so much to do with a commodity like coffee.
On the producer side ...
When you create an effective USP, it should be on strategy, meaning, you're unique strengths. Especially, the ones that can't be easily copied. For example, on a blog, an authority, or voice, or experience separate you from the pack (which is why it's important to be bold.)
Sometimes, as a producer, you can stand out by focusing on your process versus your product like, "hand-crafted" or "precision-engineered", etc.
Another clear way to stand out is to use the brand. One way to find and reinforce the brand is identify three attributes you want to be about. For example, quality, choice, style.
The key books that help with USP and brands are:
- Blue Ocean (helps you find your strategic profile/differentiator)
- The 21 Immutable Laws of Branding (Clear and concise samples of USPs)
- Married to the Brand (Very surprising insights into what you can do with brand to build customer loyalty and charge for value, not compete on price)
Brand and USP help you stay out of the commodity game, even when you interview and have to tell and sell yourself to stand out from the crowd.
The goal is to "own" the category, have pole position in the customer's mind, and if the category is taken, then narrow the focus (You can't beat Amazon at books, but you can beat them at "best business books" -- divide the category.)
I think the key insight here is that you can differentiate your process, your product, or the experience ... and all the strategic difference helps you protect your position in the customer's mind.
Sidenote -- I was trained early on in strategic differentiation ... and I'm still learning.
@ Roberto -- If you make it through these books, you will very much have a strategic advantage over those that haven't read them. They are an extremely powerful collection and you will find synergies across the books ... in other words, they are very much "better together."