January is typically a time for resolutions… a time to join the gym, lose some weight, eat more vegetables, and read more books. And while we can’t motivate you to exercise more, we can help you decide which reading material is worth your time this year. With the help of some of our favorite technology leaders, we’ve chosen five books that will help you reframe your thinking and your actions in the new year.
A Seat at the Table: IT Leadership in the Age of Agility
By Mark Schwartz
What exactly is an agile CIO? How does an agile approach to IT work within the broader business context that is the enterprise? Have IT organizations locked themselves into a frame of reference that no longer applies? What does agile look like at an enterprise scale? How can IT harness agility to achieve enterprise value, and in turn, earn a seat at the table?
In this book, Mark Schwartz attempts to answer these questions. Schwartz offers us a hands-on, experienced-based view and way to think about how IT leaders can and should lead. He offers suggestions on how to close the gap that exists between an agile team and the traditional IT department as organizations realize that IT is a value creation engine for the organization.
- Recommended by Jo Peterson, Vice President of Cloud Services at Clarify360
Technically Wrong: Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms, and Other Threats of Toxic Tech
By Sarah Wachter-Boettcher
In Technically Wrong, Sara Wachter-Boettcher looks at the things we do online in our daily lives and discusses the bias, oversights, and ethical dilemmas that can be built into the digital designs of apps we use every day. I think this book is a must-read for anyone who designs digital experiences or uses technology in their daily lives. Information that we freely provide can be used in ways we might not approve of, and Wachter-Boettcher provides real-life examples of major design flaws that can serve as examples of how to avoid “bad tech” in the future.
- Recommended by Vi Berquist, CIO at St. Cloud Technical and Community College
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
By Malcolm Gladwell
This book is ten years old, but a must-read for those looking to improve their decision-making skills. I love the concept of thin-slicing that Malcolm Gladwell talks about in this book. Throughout my engineering career, I have been using this idea by sizing and estimating projects by eyeballing and relying on my gut instincts, followed by additional due diligence with the team. Not surprisingly (and thankfully), the eyeball estimates have not been too far from the scientific estimation.
With this idea of “thin-slicing,” I now have a standard term for my estimation techniques, and I’ve learned how to make the process even more accurate in all parts of my life. This book is great for not just engineering professionals, but also for everyone who is looking to perfect their decision-making techniques and learn how to filter the factors that matter from the overwhelming number of possibilities and variables.
- Recommended by Adam Hyder, SVP Engineering at BlueJeans Network
Driving Digital: The Leader’s Guide to Business Transformation Through Technology
By Isaac Sacolick
While every organization has a plan for updating products, technologies, and processes, that simply isn’t enough in our ever-changing world. With disruptive startups popping up every day and outperforming those who have been in the game for years, executives everywhere need to focus on growth and innovation to stay ahead of the curve. Doing so requires a complete digital transformation, and this book is the way to do it. Driving Digital is the go-to guide for any IT executive looking to drive digital transformation at an organization.
- Recommended by Will Lassalle, CIO at JLS Technology USA
The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win
By Gene Kim, Kevin Behr, and George Spafford
While this book is fictional, it will resonate with every IT leader who reads it. The story follows one IT leader who, when given only ninety days to turn around his department, followed The Three Ways to focus on improving processes. It gives great insight to IT managers on how to focus on what is really important, and how it is essential to be in alignment with the business in order to resolve IT issues and prioritize IT projects in a way that makes sense.
- Recommended by Michael Bautista, Global Manager of Information Systems, Infrastructure, and Operations at IMAX
Have a book you would recommend to others in the technology space? Let us know why you love it in the comments!