This reading list covers multiple areas of organizational change, lean startup, Agile coaching, product envisioning and development, and others related to a modern enterprise, leadership, and business success.
My 2016 Reading List with brief annotations (minimum of 2 books per month):
1. Daniel Mezick. The Open Agile Adoption Handbook. 2013
An interesting framework of implementing Agile based on invitation and creating containers for open and collaborative communication. Must read for every agilist.
2. Presentation patterns: Techniques for Crafting Better Presentations. By Neal Ford, Matthew McCullough, Nathaniel Schutta. 2012
A helpful book on crafting better presentations.
1. Gary Gruver and Tommy Mouser. Leading the Transformation: Applying Agile and DevOps Principles at Scale. 2015
Thoughtful analysis of DevOps in Agile environment.
2. Getting Things Done: the art of stress-free productivity by David Allen, 2015
Helpful advice on increasing productivity 10x.
1. Getting to Yes. Negotiation Agreement without Giving In by Roger Fisher and William Ury. 1991
Still valid classic on negotiations.
2. How Google Works. Eric Schimdt and Jonathan Rosenberg. 2014
Interesting insight about Google business strategy. Nothing eye opening though.
1. "Specification by Example" and "Impact Mapping" by Gojko Adzic
Highly recommended series of books by Gojko Adzic with practical advice on writing effective user stories, impact mapping, Agile testing, and many other topics.
2. "The Clean Coder" by Bob Martin
3. Henrik Kniberg "Lean from the Trenches"
Henrik Kniberg does not need introductions. This is his case study which is recommended as a great introduction to Agile.
4. Jez Humble "Lean Enterprise"
A must read for software professionals and all the change agents in a modern enterprise.
1. "User Story Mapping" by Jeff Patton
This book became a classic within weeks after it was published. Highly recommended for all Agilists and especially for Product Owners.
2. Radical Focus: Achieving Your Most Important Goals with Objectives and Key Results by Christina Wodtke. I read this book because we started implementing OKRs and someone recommended the book to me as a "novel about OKRs". In this inspiring business fiction (the genre we started appreciating after The Goal, The Phoenix Project, or Five Dysfunctions of a Team), Christine combines her hard earned experience as an executive at Zynga, Linkedin and many of Silicon Valley’s hottest companies to explain how a shared goal and clarity on implementation drive results. It’s not about to-do lists and accountability charts. It’s about creating a framework for regular check-ins, key results, and most of all, the beauty of a good fail – and how to take a temporary disaster and turn it into a future success. The book is inspirational and informative at the same time.
1. Scrum: Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland. A "must read" for every agile professional with a lot of foundational thoughts and the history of how scrum has emerged. Some concepts will resonate with you, some may seem arguable but everyone will find a lot of interesting and thought-provoking ideas in this book. My favorite is a list of studies and example that confirm that velocity in Agile increases 10x compared to waterfall teams. This is impressive statistics.
2. Originals by Adam Grant. The book is full of inspirational and captivating stories which I would refer to as an anatomy of success. What does it take to come up with a new idea and implement it in a way that no one has before. With a preface by Sheryl Sandberg and a review by Malcolm Gladwell. it read as a sequel to Outliers. Some of the findings seems counterintuitive but very convincing, such as the answer to the question: who has a higher change of succeeding: someone who quits their job to build and promote their new idea, or the one who stays at the job? what does risk taking have to do with their history of disciplinary issues? How can you predict if someone becomes successful and someone would not? A fascinating study where some of the findings seem counter intuitive initially and then start making a lot of sense as you read the study.
1. Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days by Jake Knapp. An outstanding take on Build-Measure-Learn loop and the Lean Startup concept with practical guidance on running Design Sprints. One of the best books on product development I've read. Some of the ideas were new to me, e.g. 5 respondents is sufficient for customer interviews; or focus groups are inefficient for customer research. Highly recommended for product owners and all agilists.
2. Doing the Right things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time by Laura Stack. This may be an unexpected book in this list, but for me it is very relevant. When you orchestrate agile and lean transformation, it is super important to have and follow the strategy, prioritize properly, and be extremely well organized to be successful. Laura Stack, is an award-winning keynote speaker, bestselling author, and noted authority on productivity. Her advice on sharing mission and vision, on building the open team cultures, and many key topics is super important for any leader.
3. Malcolm Gladwell. David and Goliath. I thought that "Outliers" is and will stay my favorite Malcolm Gladwell's book and the best secret of success I've ever read about, and yet I was fascinated by this book which opened my eyes to what makes someone successful. I was glad to read it after Originals which provided a new take at the concept of professional success. I cried as I read the stories of human strength and achievement in this book. It inspired me and made me think. One of the best non-fiction books I've ever read.
August - December 2016
1. Joshua Foer. Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything. This is a captivating book about memory and on becoming a "memory athlete". It's also beautifully written (the author is a talented journalist) and includes cutting-edge research, a surprising cultural history of remembering, and venerable tricks of the mentalist's trade to transform our understanding of human memory. A must read for everyone.
2. Cara Alter. The Credibility Code: How to project confidence & competence when it matters most. I watched Cara Alter's TED Talk first and then purchased the book. I suggest the same sequence for you. A great tutorial on speaking with presence and getting your point across and an inspirational and powerful TED Talk.
3. Partick Lencioni's The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business. I started reading this book after I got concerned about my team's health. Initially, it felt like an enterprise-version of the Five Dysfunctions of a Team, and then it became for me a good practical guide in restoring my team's health. Still on this journey.
4. Atul Gawande. The Checklist Manifesto: How to get things Right. I missed this book when it was published in 2011 and widely spoken about but then I watched Atul Gawande's TED Talk and decided to check it out. I did not regret. In riveting stories, the author reveals what checklists can do, what they can’t, and how they could bring about striking improvements in a variety of fields, from medicine and disaster recovery to professions and businesses of all kinds. It made me believe in the power of checklists which I use for almost any repeatable activity I engage in.
5. Patty Azzarello. Rise: 3 Practical Steps for Advancing Your Career, Standing Out as a Leader, and Liking Your Life. This book was important for me. All of a sudden I noticed that about a year ago I stopped doing all three and I felt that I need external advice to search for what is important, so bought this book. Well, there is a good news and a bad news here. I did not find an answer, more like a set of questions and anti-patterns. It was very liberating. "Do what you love is a bad advice." This statement was a great advice which takes a lot of pressure of the way we think about our professional life. The questions in the book made me think a lot and while the book did not tell me anything new I did not know, it proved to me a great platform for re-imagining my professional self.
6. It's Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy by Captain D. Michael Abrashoff. It's an excellent book and I suggest that you read it if you have not done so. It's about being bold and courageous and following your instincts and your heart professionally. First, I listened to it on a CD and I did not like it. Period. It felt a little bit insincere, a little bit posing, a little bit too good to be true... Then I read the book and made pauses to think of the stories told and how Captain Abrashoff may have felt as he was going through each of those, and I built a lot of appreciate and respect, and a few learnings to take away. Highly recommended!
I did meet my 2016 year resolution to read two books a month and felt that this commitment was a great experience, despite my busy schedule of a full-time employee, consultant, trainer, and presenter. Aren't we all busy?
I want to encourage all of you no matter how busy you are to make a similar commitment to read, learn, and share.
My friend asked me if I am going to make it my 2017 New Year resolution again? I said that I am not going to make it a new year resolution but I will continue with reading two books a month, now as a habit. By the way, the next book on my reading list is The Power of Habit.
Feel free to check the books above and a more extended list on Libib.
Check out other reading lists that I find helpful:
Em Campbell-Pretty reading list
To see my full collection, please visit: Libib