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Resources

This section contains resources to further your education, certification, learning, and career development as you pursue greatness as a TPM.

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Books

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

7habits

For a Technical Program Manager, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen Covey is like a multitool: a Leatherman or Swiss Army knife. Much like the structured, process-driven world of technical program management, Covey's seven habits provide a clear framework for personal and professional growth. Here's a quick rundown:

  1. Be Proactive: This is about taking initiative, a must-have for any TPM. You've got to be ahead of the game, anticipating issues and risks before they become problems.
  2. Begin with the End in Mind: Essential for project planning. Know your goals, define your project's scope and success criteria, and work towards them relentlessly.
  3. Put First Things First: Time management is key in your role. Prioritize tasks effectively, focusing on what's important, not just urgent.
  4. Think Win-Win: TPMs have to navigate complex team dynamics. Aiming for mutually beneficial solutions helps in maintaining harmony and collaboration.
  5. Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood: This is gold for communication skills. Listen actively to your team's ideas and concerns before pushing your agenda. This applies to your stakeholders too: Understand what they want as you manage your program and team.
  6. Synergize: It's about teamwork. Leverage the strengths of your team members to achieve more than what you could alone. (Yes, "synergize" is a bit of a BigCo buzzword these days. But think of this as a reference to the word "synergy" and Buckminster Fuller's word "synergetics" instead.)
  7. Sharpen the Saw: Never stop learning and improving. As a TPM, staying updated with tech trends and honing your skills is crucial. That's why you're reading this book.

Covey's book offers a timeless set of principles that align well with the demands and challenges of a Technical Program Manager role. It's a guide for not just managing projects, but also leading a balanced, effective life.

Good to Great by Jim Collins

good2great

"Good to Great" by Jim Collins is an incredibly insightful read for a Technical Program Manager (TPM) aiming to elevate their team or organization from just good to truly great. Read an article based on the research that went into "Good to Great." Here's how its core concepts can be a game-changer:

  1. Level 5 Leadership: Collins talks about leaders who combine humility with fierce resolve. For a TPM, this means leading with a blend of personal humility and professional will, driving your team towards excellence without seeking the spotlight.
  2. First Who, Then What: This principle emphasizes getting the right people on the bus (team) before deciding where to drive it. For a TPM, building a strong, capable team is crucial before diving into the complexities of project management.
  3. Confront the Brutal Facts: As a TPM, you need to face and address the hard truths about your projects and processes, no matter how uncomfortable. This honesty paves the way for effective problem-solving and innovation.
  4. The Hedgehog Concept: This is about understanding what you can be the best at. For a TPM, it's about focusing on your core competencies and leveraging them to drive project success. It also applies to the programs you manage. Can you create something that is the first or second best in the world? Does it meet the criteria of the Hedgehog Concept? Are you and your team passionate (enthusiastic) about something you can be the best at while driving to organizational (business, economic, social benefit) success?
  5. A Culture of Discipline: Discipline in processes and thinking is key for a TPM. This isn’t about bureaucracy but about adhering to a consistent system that works towards the greater goal. This isn't about solely following process. Discipline can be about creating or iterating on process. It can also, sometimes, be about going around process to get things done.
  6. Technology Accelerators: Collins point isn't about using technology for its own sake, but using it wisely to accelerate growth. For a TPM, this means integrating technology in a way that complements and enhances your team's skills and project goals. Avoid using something because it's shiny and new. Assess it's value, and include the cost of change in your assessment.
  7. The Flywheel Effect: This concept is about gradual, consistent effort leading to a point of breakthrough. For TPMs, it's about understanding that big results come from many small, consistent actions over time. This is the core of management and leadership: you rarely get that significant positive step change but, if you're paying attention, you can see gradual and meaningful growth and progress over time.

"Good to Great" isn't just about strategies; it's about cultivating a mindset that helps leaders and their teams achieve extraordinary results. For a TPM, applying these principles can lead to exceptional project management and team leadership.

More detail on the Hedgehog Concept

flowchart TD A[What you can be the best at] --> B B(Hedgehog Concept) C[Your passion] --> B D[Economic engine] --> B

The Hedgehog Concept is a fascinating and powerful principle from Jim Collins' "Good to Great." It's based on an ancient Greek parable that contrasts the fox, who knows many things, with the hedgehog, who knows one big thing. In the context of business and leadership, especially for a Technical Program Manager (TPM), here's a deeper dive into this concept:

  1. Understanding What You Can Be the Best at: This isn't about what you want to be the best at. It's about recognizing what you can realistically be the best at. As a TPM, this means objectively assessing the strengths of your team and yourself, understanding the unique skills and capabilities that can be leveraged in the technology space. It's about focusing on projects or areas where you can truly excel and make a significant impact.
  2. Identifying Your Passion: The Hedgehog Concept also revolves around passion. What are you deeply passionate about? For a TPM, this could be a specific aspect of technology, a particular method of project management, or even leading and developing a high-performing team. This passion is crucial because it drives motivation and engagement, both for you and your team.
  3. Recognizing the Economic Engine: This aspect relates to the economic factors that your work impacts. In the role of a TPM, it's crucial to understand how your work contributes to the economic success of the project or organization. This might involve considering factors like cost savings, efficiency gains, or the financial impact of the technologies and processes you implement.
  4. The Intersection Point: The essence of the Hedgehog Concept is finding the sweet spot where these three aspects intersect: what you can be the best at, what you are passionate about, and what drives your economic engine. For a TPM, this intersection is where you'll find the greatest effectiveness and satisfaction in your role. It's about aligning your team's strengths and passions with the economic goals of your projects, leading to greater productivity, innovation, and success.

In summary, the Hedgehog Concept is about simplicity within the three circles – understanding your team's core competencies, their passions, and the economic realities, and then relentlessly focusing on the intersection of these areas. For a TPM, mastering this concept can lead to remarkable achievements and a truly great team or project outcome.

Not everyone will have passion (a very strong positive emotion) for their work. Especially not at all times. Some people take issue with this word. Instead, perhaps think of it as "what drives you" to work on programs with team. Perhaps think of it as "enthusiasm" or "energy" or even "engagement."

Don't get hung up on the exact word. Take the meaning away as something you get intrinsic satisfaction from.

Courses

Site Name Brief Description URL
Coursera Coursera partners with more than 275 leading universities and companies to bring flexible, affordable, job-relevant online learning to individuals worldwide.. Coursera.org
DataCamp Build data and AI skills. DataCamp.com
Pluralsight Develop critical tech skills. Cut cycle times. Build happier, healthier tech teams. Pluralsight.com
O'Reilly Build your tech skills for real business impact. OReilly.com
LinkedIn Learning Expert-led courses across a variety of online class topics for every step of your career. Instructors with real-world experience. Linkedin.com/Learning/
Exponent Focuses on interview preparation, with practical questions and scenarios for TPM roles. tryexponent.com

Certifications

See the sidebar on certifications.

Name Description URL
Microsoft Certifications Microsoft technologies including Azure, Windows, and Microsoft 365 learn.microsoft.com/credentials
Grow with Google Flexible online training programs designed to put you on the fast track to jobs in high-growth fields. grow.google/certificates/
AWS Certification Validate technical skills and cloud expertise to grow your career. aws.amazon.com/certification
PMI Certifications Project management certifications to help you advance through every stage of your career. pmi.org/certifications

Websites

Advent of Code

This site, Advent of Code, runs a coding contest with daily challenges in the month of December. Past years are available and you can tackle the challenges at your own pace. The authors have set up the challenges so each participants gets customized success criteria for each challenge. This way you can check your work and progress towards the correct solution. Challenges are language-agnostic so you can practice whatever language you are currently learning.

There's a subreddit to discuss solutions and ask for help too.

If you find this site useful consider providing some funding to the authors.

Blogs

Here's a list of top blogs that would be really beneficial for Technical Program Managers (TPMs) and those aspiring to be TPMs. These blogs cover a range of topics including case studies, skills development, and insights into the role of a TPM.

Blog Name Brief Description URL
Mario Gerard A comprehensive blog by Mario Gerard, a Principal TPM with extensive experience. It covers various aspects of TPM roles and interviews. mariogerard.com
AIM Consulting Features TPM blogs revolving around case studies from consultants' experiences. aimconsulting.com
Stephanie Morillo Offers valuable lessons learned from personal experiences as a TPM, focusing on effective business practices and strategies. stephaniemorillo.co
Technical Program Management - Get Things Done A blog that shares experiences and insights on various aspects of program management and decision-making. technicalprogrammanager.com
Monday.com Highlights key program management skills: interpersonal, communication, leadership, analytics, risk mitigation, and effective delegation. monday.com Blog
Engineer seeking FIRE "Starting out as a Google Technical Program Manager, I had a lot to learn and a lot to prove. This role took me on a roller coaster of challenges and triumphs, teaching me more about technology, teamwork, and myself than I could have imagined." engineerseekingfire.com

Each of these blogs offers unique perspectives and valuable information that can help TPMs in their professional development and day-to-day challenges. Whether you're looking to improve your skills, prepare for interviews, or gain insights into the role, these resources should prove to be very useful.

Videos

Here's a table of the top YouTube channels that would be beneficial for Technical Program Managers (TPMs) to learn from. These channels cover a range of topics from project management to tech trends and leadership skills:

Channel Name Brief Description Channel URL
Project Management Institute (PMI) Offers insights on project management best practices and certifications. PMI
Google Tech Talks Features talks on the latest technology trends and innovations. GoogleTechTalks
Agile Training Videos Focuses on agile methodologies and practices. AgileTrainingVideos
Microsoft Developer Provides content on Microsoft technologies and software development. Microsoft Developer
Scrum Alliance Dedicated to Scrum and Agile practices, great for TPMs looking to adopt these methodologies. ScrumAlliance
TED Offers a broad range of talks on leadership, innovation, and motivation. TED
The Harvard Business Review Shares insights on business strategies and leadership. Harvard Business Review
ProjectManager Provides practical advice and tips on project management. ProjectManager
Stanford Graduate School of Business Features lectures and talks on business management and innovation. Stanford GSB
Simplilearn Offers tutorials and courses on various project management and IT topics. Simplilearn

These channels offer a mix of technical knowledge, industry insights, and leadership skills that are essential for a successful TPM. They can be a great resource for continuous learning and staying updated with the latest trends in technology and project management.