I love books in general and I love reading.
Even though my workdays are usually pretty long and busy, I make it a point to find (or rather make) time for this all-important mind-expanding activity. I do so fairly consistently, every day during my morning workout (while on my stationary bike) and quite often when I use the public transportation system.
I managed to read 8 books in 2006, all of them business or process improvement related:
- Getting Things Done and Ready for Anything by David Allen
Simply the best productivity books I have ever read. Two of the few books I consistently reread and return to.
- Gemba Kaizen: A Commonsense, Low-Cost Approach to Management by Masaaki Imai
Dry material but still a good read for those who'd like to know some of the roots of lean manufacturing concepts and even Agile software development methodologies.
- Lean Software Development by Mary and Tom Poppendieck
Although a bit lean itself, an excellent book bridging the worlds of lean manufacturing and software development.
- What is Six Sigma? by Pete Pande and Larry Holpp
This one didn't left much of a trace. Not bad, but not particularly enlightening nor insightful nor, for that matter, useful.
- Crossing the Chasm, by Geoffrey A. Moore
Now this for me was a real page turner. This should be mandatory reading for everyone involved in technology start-ups. (Eternal Gratitude to Andre Bouchard of Plannsoft)
- The Four Steps to the Epiphany by Steven Gary Blank
Great cover artwork. Amateurish typesetting. Clearly lacking in proofreading. Yet this is by far the most systematic, process driven, lets-get-down-to-the-nitty-gritty book I have ever read on how to build a company from the ground up - and avoid the often fatal sin of going too early on an unwarranted and misguided marketing spending spree.
- The Business of Software by Michael A. Cusumano
An extremely well documented account of the history (yes, we have one) of the software industry. His central thesis, that every software venture must choose between being a product, a service or an hybrid business, eloquently confirms and demonstrates an intuition I've had for many years. Truly excellent and relevant case studies, covering not only successes but also a lot of failed or struggling companies. Hat's off to Michael for candidly reporting on his own involvement in quite a few not-so-successful start-ups, sharing with us some key hindsight and precious lessons learned (Capablanca, one of the early world chess champions, once said the he could learn more from a single defeat than from a hundred easy victories).
- The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki
A guide for anyone starting anything (the book subtitle), by definition, cannot be very specific. Indeed I didn't find much substance in it to satisfy my hunger
I did, however, really liked the emphasis Guy - a true Renaissance Man if there ever was one - on the importance of being a "Mensch", which means being ethical, decent and admirable. In other words, always walk on the bright side of the Force!
Have good books to recommend on these, related or unrelated subjects? By all means, let me know!