At OpenPlans, we’ve hired two new Project/Product managers within the last month. I couldn’t be happier with the hires, and they are already doing great work. Jeff Maki is handling our work with public transit agencies (like the OpenTripPlanner and our shiny new real-time bus tracking project with MTA, building on the fabulous OneBusAway package). Frank Hebbert will be handing our work on participatory planning, including our new project with NYC DOT.
Jeff and Frank are both pros at what they do — Jeff has been managing big consumer-facing tech projects (including his recent work on the FreshDirect iPhone app), and Frank has a deep background in GIS & planning (he comes to us by way of our friends at RPA), and a proven record organizing communities around planning issues.
So as they’re both getting started, I’ve been thinking about what to give them as background reading, to get ramped up into our work environment. In the end, I’ve decided to keep it simple, and go with two books that have really made an impact on me, and that give a good sense of our perspective as an organization:
Getting Real, by 37Signals. This book is like the bible to me — I’ve been a 37Signals fan for a long time, and this book really helped me form my attitude towards project and product management.
Producing Open Source Software, by Karl Fogel. We are not just a product or service company, but also an “open” company. With that comes many confusing and complicated situations — even seemingly straightforward questions like “how do we promote ourselves on our product sites” are different when you’re an open company. Karl’s book is a great primer on the social dynamics of open source community management. We’ve also been fortunate enough to be hosting Karl in our office (while he works for O’Reilly Media on Code for America and Civic Commons) for the past few months, and frequently find ourselves tapping him on the shoulder for some sage advice.