Some recommended reading for management types

I’m a bit of a management junkie as well as a programmer, which is fortunate as I’m now in a position of senior management (although I have to admit I still prefer coding to management). I wanted to recommend some good management reading to people in my management team – particularly regarding organisational strategy and leadership as we’re a small company growing up fast and need to think about these things more seriously now. I was also keen that nothing I recommended was too polemic, software development oriented or, ideally, containing the “A” word (although one ended up doing so).

I asked Twitter and the books below are the ones most recommended or looked most interesting for us. It’s by no means an authoritative list or supposed to be the “best” of anything. I just thought it was interesting enough to be worth sharing more widely.

The Goal

The Goal is a management-oriented novel by Dr. Eliyahu M. Goldratt, a business consultant whose Theory of Constraints has become a model for systems management. It was originally published in 1984 and has since been revised and republished every few years, once in 1992 and again in 2004. This book is usually used in college courses and in the business world for case studies in operations management, with a focus geared towards the Theory of Constraints, bottlenecks and how to alleviate them, and applications of these concepts in real life.[1] This book is widely used in leading colleges of management to teach students about the importance of strategic capacity planning and constraint management. 

Most recommended by those polled. I’ve also read it and think it’s great.

Managing the Unexpected

The unexpected is often dramatic, as with hurricanes or terrorist attacks. But the unexpected can also come in more subtle forms, such as a small organizational lapse that leads to a major blunder, or an unexamined assumption that costs lives in a crisis. Why are some organizations better able than others to maintain function and structure in the face of unanticipated change?

Authors Karl Weick and Kathleen Sutcliffe answer this question by pointing to high reliability organizations (HROs), such as emergency rooms in hospitals, flight operations of aircraft carriers, and firefighting units, as models to follow. These organizations have developed ways of acting and styles of learning that enable them to manage the unexpected better than other organizations. Thoroughly revised and updated, the second edition of the groundbreaking book Managing the Unexpected uses HROs as a template for any institution that wants to better organize for high reliability.

David Harvey, CEO of Vyclone and industry veteran recommended this because ” (1) it’s full of good stories, (2) it’s backed by _a lot_ of research, (3) no mention of the Agile or Lean words…”

How to Manage and How to Lead

Both recommended for being short, pragmatic and accessible. Thanks Marcin 🙂

Adrenaline Junkies and Template Zombies:Understanding Patterns of Project Behaviour

In Adrenaline Junkies and Template Zombies, the six principal consultants of The Atlantic Systems Guild present the patterns of behavior they most often observe at the dozens of IT firms they transform each year, around the world. 

The result is a quick-read guide to identifying nearly ninety typical scenarios, drawing on a combined one-hundred-and-fifty years of project management experience. Project by project, you’ll improve the accuracy of your hunches and your ability to act on them. 

Any book where DeMarco is involved is essential reading in my opinion. Not heard of this one before. Thanks Captain Crom!

Managing the Design Factory: A Product Developers Tool Kit

This text on product development combines the analytical tools of queuing, information and system theories with the ideas of organization design and management. The author aims to answer such questions as: when should we use a sequential or concurrent process; should there be centralized or decentralized control; and should the organization be based along functional or team lines?

Supposed to be a bit theoretically heavy in places, but worthwhile none the less. I hear Reinertsen’s name referenced regularly and know a couple of people who have been on his course.

Management 3.0

Management 3.0 is a course, a book, and an approach to inspire team members, team leaders, development managers, IT directors, project managers, Agile coaches, and HR managers, who face the challenge of transforming their organizations to an Agile mindset. We do that by providing guidance and practices, and by applying complexity thinking to the craft, art, and science of Agile management.

I’ve read this and really liked it. It’s obviously very “Agile” oriented, but starts by covering a lot of management theory and most things covered in the book could be applied far more widely than just software development.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *