Admittedly, and perhaps ashamedly, I wasn’t always an avid reader of books. It’s not that I never read, but I could go for months or maybe even a year without reading a book cover to cover. My rationalization was that I’m already reading so much daily, from news to technical guides to source code, and that ought to be enough. More recently, I’ve come to believe that mindset was misguided.
A new role as Director of Engineering at work threw me into a deep end I didn’t know existed. I found myself alone, with no mentorship, high expectations from myself and others, and a rapidly growing company where I was responsible for most of the technology team. It turns out I wasn’t the first to be in this situation and that there are piles of literature about what to do and, maybe more importantly, what not to do when you find yourself in such a situation. A few of the books that helped me get my feet under me include:
- An Elegant Puzzle: Systems of Engineering Management
- Team Topologies: Organizing Business and Technology Teams for Fast Flow
- Strategy Beyond the Hockey Stick: People, Probabilities, and Big Moves to Beat the Odds
- The Agile Mind-Set: Making Agile Processes Work
- Competing Against Luck
- Thinking in Systems: A Primer
- The Art of Agile
If you have any other ‘must-read’ suggestions in the theme of those listed above, please drop a comment and let me know!
I devoured these books while trying to navigate my new role. What happened was a massive shift in my perspective on business strategy, software development practices, and teamwork. These books opened my eyes to the opportunities we weren’t taking advantage of. They also posed a challenge: how to motivate my peers to take an active interest in this material?
While I learned so much from these books and others, making piles of notes along the way, I didn’t take the time to reflect on what I’d learned and organize my thoughts; I’d like to change that. So, over the next while, I plan on distilling what I’ve learned from these books and any new material I consume into a series of blog post reviews. At a minimum, these will provide me with what I found valuable from this material. Perhaps some others will find value in these too.