Recommended Reading

Recommended Reading
There are really only four fundamental ways for a software development and management professional to hone his or her abilities:

1) on-the-job experience,
2) networking with peers,
3) training/coaching, and
4) voracious reading

Many professionals neglect the last one. Throughout the articles on this blog, you’ll see me cite and mention books in the field of software development and management fairly regularly.

I am a fanatic reader since I was a little boy. My interests are very diverse and on average I read one book a week. This list contains all the books I think are worth reading and provide real value for when you are involved in managing a software development project or building a new product or service.

Project Management

Doing the Impossible: George E. Mueller & the Management of NASA's Human Spaceflight Program (Springer Praxis Books in Space Exploration) by Arthur L. Slotkin. Apollo was known for its engineering triumphs, but its success also came from a disciplined management style. This excellent account of one of the most important personalities in early American human spaceflight history describes for the first time how George E. Mueller, the system manager of the human spaceflight program of the 1960s, applied the SPO methodology and other special considerations such as “all-up”testing, resulting in the success of the Apollo Program.

Earned Value Project Management - Fourth Edition by Quentin W. Fleming and‎ Joel M. Koppelman. Presents an introduction to earned value management techniques, discussing how they are used to monitor a project's performance against an earned value baseline, notify stakeholders of costs and timelines, and predict final project effectiveness. In all software development projects I have worked this method would be almost impossible to use. But it is the default for the US Department of Defence and NASA.

Performance-Based Project Management: Increasing the Probability of Project Success by Glen B. Alleman. Projects fail to meet goals for many reasons: poor time and budget performance, failure to deal with complexity, uncontrolled changes in scope… Even the most experienced project managers can be caught off guard in the presence of these forces. Performance-Based Project Management shows readers how they can increase the probability of project success, detailing a straightforward plan for avoiding surprises, forecasting performance, identifying risk, and taking corrective action to keep a project a success. In all software development projects I have worked this method would be almost impossible to use. But it is the default for the US Department of Defence and NASA.

Project Recovery

Project Recovery: Case Studies and Techniques for Overcoming Project Failure by Harold Kerzner. There are plenty of books available offering best practices that help you keep your projects on track, but offer guidance on what to do when the worst has already happened. Some studies show that more than half of all large-scale project fail either fail completely, or at least miss targeted budget and scheduling goals. These failures cost organizations time, money, and labor. Project Recovery offers wise guidance and real-world best practices for saving failed projects and recovering as much value as possible from the wreckage. Since failing project cannot be managed using the same lifecycle phases employed with succeeding projects, most project management professionals are unprepared to tackle the challenge of project recovery. This book presents valuable case studies and a recovery project lifecycle to help project managers identify and respond effectively to a troubled project.

Project Portfolio Management

Strategic Project Portfolio Management: Enabling a Productive Organization by Simon Moore. Practical and filled with expert advice, Strategic Project Portfolio Management: Enabling a Productive Organization presents a clear framework for your organization to complete impactful strategic projects. Providing executive-level guidance to build a powerful and efficient process from initial adoption to portfolio alignment, this essential resource contains case studies from small to global multinational organizations, arming you with the insights to ensure your strategic projects are given the resources they need to deliver business impact.

Portfolio Management For New Products: Second Edition by Robert G. Cooper, Scott J. Edgett and Elko J. Kleinschmidt. Product Innovators win in the long run by optimizing their R&D investments with a new product strategy, selecting the right new product projects and achieving an ideal balance of projects. Portfolio Management for New Products helps you understand how winning companies manage their R&D portfolios. Learn how to steer your company's R&D investment to achieve a higher return.

Estimating & Planning

Agile Estimating and Planning by Mike Cohn. We know how to build predictive plans and manage them. But building plans that only estimate the future and then embrace change, challenge most of our training and skills. In Agile Estimating and Planning , Mike Cohn once again fills a hole in the Agile practices, this time by showing us a workable approach to Agile estimating and planning. Mike delves into the nooks and crannies of the subject and anticipates many of the questions and nuances of this topic. Students of Agile processes will recognize that this book is truly about agility, bridging many of the practices between Scrum and ExtremeProgramming.

Software Estimation: Demystifying the Black Art (Developer Best Practices) by Steve McConnell. Often referred to as the “black art” because of its complexity and uncertainty, software estimation is not as difficult or puzzling as people think. In fact, generating accurate estimates is straightforward—once you understand the art of creating them. In his highly anticipated book, acclaimed author Steve McConnell unravels the mystery to successful software estimation—distilling academic information and real-world experience into a practical guide for working software professionals. Instead of arcane treatises and rigid modeling techniques, this guide highlights a proven set of procedures, understandable formulas, and heuristics that individuals and development teams can apply to their projects to help achieve estimation proficiency.

NoEstimates: How To Measure Project Progress Without Estimating by Vasco Duarte. I'm a strong opponent of #NoEstimates—although the name is a misnomer. #NoEstimates doesn't mean "no estimates", it means minimizing waste whilst estimating. This is a great book that explains the concept.

Risk Management

Identifying and Managing Project Risk: Essential Tools for Failure-Proofing Your Project by Tom Kendrick

The Black Swan: Second Edition: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nicolas Taleb. A black swan is an event, positive or negative, that is deemed improbable yet causes massive consequences. In this groundbreaking and prophetic book, Taleb shows in a playful way that Black Swan events explain almost everything about our world, and yet we—especially the experts—are blind to them. In this second edition, Taleb has added a new essay, On Robustness and Fragility, which offers tools to navigate and exploit a Black Swan world.

System Thinking

Thinking in Systems: A Primer by Donella H. Meadows. Thinking in Systems, is a concise and crucial book offering insight for problem solving on scales ranging from the personal to the global. Edited by the Sustainability Institute’s Diana Wright, this essential primer brings systems thinking out of the realm of computers and equations and into the tangible world, showing readers how to develop the systems-thinking skills that thought leaders across the globe consider critical for 21st-century life.

Lean

The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries. The Lean Startup approach fosters companies that are both more capital efficient and that leverage human creativity more effectively.  Inspired by lessons from lean manufacturing, it relies on “validated learning,” rapid scientific experimentation, as well as a number of counter-intuitive practices that shorten product development cycles, measure actual progress without resorting to vanity metrics, and learn what customers really want. It enables a company to shift directions with agility, altering plans inch by inch, minute by minute.

The Startup Way: How Modern Companies Use Entrepreneurial Management to Transform Culture and Drive Long-Term Growth by Eric Ries. In The Lean Startup, Eric Ries laid out the practices of successful startups – building a minimal viable product, customer-focused and scientific testing based on a build-measure-learn method of continuous innovation, and deciding whether to persevere or pivot. In The Startup Way, he turns his attention to an entirely new group of organizations: established enterprises like iconic multinationals GE and Toyota, tech titans like Amazon and Facebook, and the next generation of Silicon Valley upstarts like Airbnb and Twilio. 

Lean Software Development: An Agile Toolkit by Marie Poppendieck and Tom Poppendieck. In Lean Software Development, Mary and Tom Poppendieck identify seven fundamental "lean" principles, adapt them for the world of software development, and show how they can serve as the foundation for agile development approaches that work. Along the way, they introduce 22 "thinking tools" that can help you customize the right agile practices for any environment. Better, cheaper, faster software development. You can have all three–if you adopt the same lean principles that have already revolutionized manufacturing, logistics and product development.

Agile

The Nature of Software Development: Keep It Simple, Make It Valuable, Build It Piece by Piece by Ron Jeffries. You need to get value from your software project. You need it "free, now, and perfect." We can't get you there, but we can help you get to "cheaper, sooner, and better." This book leads you from the desire for value down to the specific activities that help good Agile projects deliver better software sooner, and at a lower cost. Using simple sketches and a few words, the author invites you to follow his path of learning and understanding from a half century of software development and from his engagement with Agile methods from their very beginning.

Extreme Programming Explained: Embrace Change, 2nd Edition (The XP Series) by Kent Beck. The first edition of this book told us what XP was—it changed the way many of us think about software development. This second edition takes it farther and gives us a lot more of the ‘why’ of XP, the motivations and the principles behind the practices. This is great stuff. Armed with the ‘what’ and the ‘why,’ we can now all set out to confidently work on the ‘how’: how to run our projects better, and how to get agile techniques adopted in our organizations.

The People's Scrum: Agile Ideas for Revolutionary Transformation by Tobias Mayer. We often tend to treat process like a mini-bureaucracy with dull and painful rules that cannot be broken. Tobias reminds us that it's the principles of scrum and not the rules that make it actually work. He comes at scrum from the angle of a case worker, navigating people through sometimes hostile systems and exploiting loopholes to obtain vital services. In this case, the vital service is simply a team's ability to enjoy the successful completion of relevant and fulfilling work. The People's Scrum wrests a good idea from the stultifying hands of certification and places it back where it belongs - in the hands of those who will actually use it. Isn't that was self-organization was really about?

Kanban and Scrum - making the most of both (Enterprise Software Development) by Henrik Kniberg and Mattias Skarin. Scrum and Kanban are two flavors of Agile software development - two deceptively simple but surprisingly powerful approaches to software development. So how do they relate to each other? The purpose of this book is to clear up the fog, so you can figure out how Kanban and Scrum might be useful in your environment.

Scaling Lean & Agile Development: Thinking and Organizational Tools for Large-Scale Scrum by Craig Larman and Bas Vodde. Increasingly, large product-development organizations are turning to lean thinking, agile principles and practices, and large-scale Scrum to sustainably and quickly deliver value and innovation. However, many groups have floundered in their practice-oriented adoptions. Why? Because without a deeper understanding of the thinking tools and profound organizational redesign needed, it is as though casting seeds on to an infertile field. Now, drawing on their long experience leading and guiding large-scale lean and agile adoptions for large, multisite, and offshore product development, and drawing on the best research for great team-based agile organizations, internationally recognized consultant and best-selling author Craig Larman and former leader of the agile transformation at Nokia Networks Bas Vodde share the key thinking and organizational tools needed to plant the seeds of product development success in a fertile lean and agile enterprise.

Practices for Scaling Lean & Agile Development: Large, Multisite, and Offshore Product Development with Large-Scale Scrum by Craig Larman and Bas Vodde. Increasingly, large product-development organizations are turning to lean thinking, agile principles and practices, and large-scale Scrum to sustainably and quickly deliver value and innovation. Drawing on their long experience leading and guiding lean and agile adoptions for large, multisite, and offshore product development, internationally recognized consultant and best-selling author Craig Larman and former leader of the agile transformation at Nokia Networks Bas Vodde share the key action tools needed for success.

DevOps

The Phoenix Project: A Novel about IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win by Gene Kim, Kevin Behr and George Spafford. Bill, an IT manager at Parts Unlimited, has been tasked with taking on a project critical to the future of the business, code named Phoenix Project. But the project is massively over budget and behind schedule. The CEO demands Bill must fix the mess in ninety days or else Bill's entire department will be outsourced. With the help of a prospective board member and his mysterious philosophy of The Three Ways, Bill starts to see that IT work has more in common with a manufacturing plant work than he ever imagined. With the clock ticking, Bill must organize work flow streamline interdepartmental communications, and effectively serve the other business functions at Parts Unlimited. In a fast-paced and entertaining style, three luminaries of the DevOps movement deliver a story that anyone who works in IT will recognize. Readers will not only learn how to improve their own IT organizations, they'll never view IT the same way again.

DevOps on the Microsoft Stack by Wouter de Kort. This book tells you everything you need to know to help your organization implement DevOps on the Microsoft platform. You will learn how to use Visual Studio, Visual Studio Team Services, and Azure to implement a complete DevOps process in your company. You will learn about Agile Project Management, Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery, Technical Debt Management, Automatic Testing and Monitoring, and see how all these areas fit together.

Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking: Tools for Taking Charge of Your Professional and Personal Life (2nd Edition) by Richard Paul and Linda Elder. Use better thinking to empower yourself, discover opportunities, avoid disastrous mistakes, build wealth, and achieve your biggest goals! This is your complete, up-to-the-minute blueprint for assessing and improving the way you think about everything – from business decisions to personal relationships. Drs. Richard W. Paul and Linda Elder, of the Center for Critical Thinking, offer specific guidance for making more intelligent decisions, and overcoming the irrationalities and "sociocentric" limits we all face. Discover which of the "six stages" of thinking you’re in and learn how to think with clarity, relevance, logic, accuracy, depth, significance, precision, breadth, and fairness. Master strategic thinking skills you can use everywhere and learn how to critically assess what experts tell you. Packed with new examples and exercises, this guide won’t just help you think more effectively: it will help you use those skills to empower yourself, discover new opportunities, avoid disastrous mistakes, and grow your wealth. Above all, it will help you gain the confidence and clarity you need to pursue and achieve your most important goals in life – whatever they are!

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande. The modern world has given us stupendous know-how. Yet avoidable failures continue to plague us in health care, government, the law, the financial industry—in almost every realm of organized activity. And the reason is simple: the volume and complexity of knowledge today has exceeded our ability as individuals to properly deliver it to people—consistently, correctly, safely. We train longer, specialize more, use ever-advancing technologies, and still we fail. Atul Gawande makes a compelling argument that we can do better, using the simplest of methods: the checklist. In riveting stories, he 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. And the insights are making a difference. Already, a simple surgical checklist from the World Health Organization designed by following the ideas described here has been adopted in more than twenty countries as a standard for care and has been heralded as “the biggest clinical invention in thirty years” (The Independent).

Product Management & Building

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel. Doing what someone else already knows how to do takes the world from 1 to n, adding more of something familiar. But when you do something new, you go from 0 to 1. The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. Tomorrow’s champions will not win by competing ruthlessly in today’s marketplace. They will escape competition altogether because their businesses will be unique. Zero to One presents at once an optimistic view of the future of progress in America and a new way of thinking about innovation: it starts by learning to ask the questions that lead you to find value in unexpected places.

The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth by Clayton M. Christensen. In The Innovator’s Solution, Clayton Christensen and Michael Raynor expand on the idea of disruption, explaining how companies can and should become disruptors themselves. This classic work shows just how timely and relevant these ideas continue to be in today’s hyper-accelerated business environment. Christensen and Raynor give advice on the business decisions crucial to achieving truly disruptive growth and propose guidelines for developing your own disruptive growth engine. The authors identify the forces that cause managers to make bad decisions as they package and shape new ideas—and offer new frameworks to help create the right conditions, at the right time, for a disruption to succeed. This is a must-read for all senior managers and business leaders responsible for innovation and growth, as well as members of their teams.

Working & Learning

The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization by Peter M. Senge. In The Fifth Discipline, Senge describes how companies can rid themselves of the learning “disabilities” that threaten their productivity and success by adopting the strategies of learning organizations—ones in which new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, collective aspiration is set free, and people are continually learning how to create results they truly desire.

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport. Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It's a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. Deep work will make you better at what you do and provide the sense of true fulfillment that comes from craftsmanship. In short, deep work is like a super power in our increasingly competitive twenty-first century economy. And yet, most people have lost the ability to go deep-spending their days instead in a frantic blur of e-mail and social media, not even realizing there's a better way.

The Champion's Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train, and Thrive by Jim Affremow. Even among the most elite performers, certain athletes stand out as a cut above the rest, able to outperform in clutch, game-deciding moments. These athletes prove that raw athletic ability doesn't necessarily translate to a superior on-field experience its the mental game that matters most. Sports participation-from the recreational to the collegiate Division I level-is at an all-time high. While the caliber of their games may differ, athletes at every level have one thing in common: the desire to excel. In The Champion's Mind, sports psychologist Jim Afremow, PhD, offers the same advice he uses with Olympians, Heisman Trophy winners, and professional athletes

Rework by  Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. Most business books give you the same old advice: Write a business plan, study the competition, seek investors, yadda yadda. If you're looking for a book like that, put this one back on the shelf. Read it and you'll know why plans are actually harmful, why you don't need outside investors, and why you're better off ignoring the competition. The truth is, you need less than you think. You don't need to be a workaholic. You don't need to staff up. You don't need to waste time on paperwork or meetings. You don't even need an office. Those are all just excuses.

Consulting

Managing The Professional Service Firm by David H. Maister. Professional firms differ from other business enterprises in two distinct ways: first, they provide highly customized services and thus cannot apply many of the management principles developed for product-based industries. Second, professional services are highly personalized, involving the skills of individuals. Such firms must therefore compete not only for clients but also for talented professionals. Drawing on more than ten years of research and consulting to these unique and creative companies, David Maister explores issues ranging from marketing and business development to multinational strategies, human resources policies to profit improvement, strategic planning to effective leadership. While these issues can be complex, Maister simplifies them by recognizing that “every professional service firm in the world, regardless of size, specific profession, or country of operation, has the same mission statement: outstanding service to clients, satisfying careers for its people, and financial success for its owners.”

So Good They Can't Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love by Cal Newport. In this eye-opening account, Cal Newport debunks the long-held belief that "follow your passion" is good advice.  Not only is the cliché flawed-preexisting passions are rare and have little to do with how most people end up loving their work-but it can also be dangerous, leading to anxiety and chronic job hopping. After making his case against passion, Newport sets out on a quest to discover the reality of how people end up loving what they do. Spending time with organic farmers, venture capitalists, screenwriters, freelance computer programmers, and others who admitted to deriving great satisfaction from their work, Newport uncovers the strategies they used and the pitfalls they avoided in developing their compelling careers.

Million Dollar Consulting Proposals: How to Write a Proposal That's Accepted Every Time by Alan Weiss.Intended for consultants, speakers, and other professional services providers, Million Dollar Consulting Proposals ends forever the time-consuming and often frustrating process of writing a consulting proposal. It begins with the basics—defining these proposals and why they are necessary—and coaches you through the entire proposal process. In this book, you'll learn how to establish outcome-based business objectives and maximize your success and commensurate fees.