Recharged, reloaded, and a lot of reading

WP_000812I spent last week lounging on the beaches of Maui with my family. I didn’t stay completely away from work or the interwebz, but after a day or so of sun and fun,I did manage to unwind enough to lose track of days of the week.

I spent a lot of time reading on the beach (and fell in love with my Kindle again). I made it through four books (one was a re-reading of a cheesy LOTR rip-off I originally read thirty years ago, but it was fun).

First on my reading list was The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries. Quite a few colleagues recommended the book, and I thought it was good. Two things made this a good (but not great) book for me. The first is that there’s not really anything new in the book (at least for those who have paid passive attention to lean and agile movements over the past few years). Even so, the abundance of stories about iterative practices in a variety of industries more than make up for the repetition. I was also a bit put off by what came across as author arrogance as well. There was just a bit too much self-promotion sprinkled throughout the book for me to fully enjoy it. YMMV, so I’d still recommend this book.

Next up was Influencer: The Power to Change Anything by Kerry Patterson. We have an internal course at MS based on the book. I haven’t taken the course, but I’ve heard enough about the concepts to want to know more (for sick reasons beyond my control, I read a lot about organizational change and organizational learning). The gist of this book (like many others in the category) is that you can solve problems by changing behavior. The value in the book is in the model they use to describe the different ways one can enable behavioral change. I liked that the model divides the concepts into Motivational and Ability groupings – it reminds me of what Michael Lopp calls “The Skill and the Will”[1]. I read Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard earlier this year, and think it’s a bit better book if you’re just going to read one book on organizational change, but the two books complement each other quite well.

The final book I read on the trip was Monday Morning Mentoring: Ten Lessons to Guide You Up the Ladder. First off, I’ll admit that I’m a big fan of business fiction – especially when done well. There were no plot twists in the book, nor anything radical, but for me, it was a page turner (or button pusher in my case). The story documents progress (and setbacks) as a young exec meets with a business guru over the course of ten Monday morning mentoring sessions.

[1] Managing Humans: Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering Manager – is a fantastic book on management and IMO, essential reading for people managers.

DISCLAIMER: The above links are all amazon associate links (meaning that if you click the link and buy a book, Amazon credits me a few cents. I pull down the associate links automatically, but if you want to buy the books straight away, just go to Amazon directly and search for the above.

2 Comments

  1. Interesting article. Funny how in technology companies the challenges we grapple with are organizational but really personal when we get down to it.

    We all may be trying to implement changes we think will benefit us and hopefully the organization at large. But it takes leadership from the top to corral these competing ideas into an overall coherent strategy. Something they don’t really teach at college, except thru ROTC AFAIK 😉

    As a graduate of this and other “leadership” training, I don’t think we can “train” leaders, they just have to have a certain “magic” that is needed by their groups, like a new quarterback that gets the offense going. You don’t learn leadership from a book or course, but it’s innate. However underlying character does matter and an indispensable and necessary prerequisite IMO.

    But books like these can give you ideas to try out and consider.

    Reply

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