Book Recommendations

Some of my favorite (work-related) books

Leadership and Management

  • Turn the Ship Around: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders — A very inspiring story of leadership, taking a nuclear sub in the US Navy from the lowest rated in the fleet to the highest performing.

  • First Break All the Rules — Gives great advice on the role of a manager. If nothing else, do take note of the 12 questions to assess employee engagement.

  • The Five Dysfunctions of Team — In this book, written as a novella, Lencioni brings to life the critical prerequisites to building a culture of “disagree and commit”, made famous by Bezos. I have recently realized one aspect this book assumes, but does not discuss (as best I recall), is that all involved must know and accept how the decision will be made. Yes, having clarity around who decides (or how issues will be decided) is important more generally for a well-functioning organization. But, in particular, “disagree and commit” doesn’t really work without it.

Strategy

  • Good Strategy; Bad Strategy — Provides a good framework for thinking about and documenting strategic decisions. Also, I find it super helpful for technical decisions. Helpfully, he provides many examples of strategies from well known companies that make it feel very natural and concrete. Interestingly, I encountered this in this article about agile Keep Agile Teams Aligned

    Software Development

  • Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code — Focuses on “programming in the small”, that is, improving methods and classes. But, through this process, you learn how to design larger features wisely. For new code you write, I recommend you refactor as you code, right as it comes out of your keyboard, as opposed to coding, debugging, then (possibly) refactoring.

General

  • Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynmann — I read this in grad school while struggling with my dissertation. It helped inspire me to not worry about asking “stupid questions” and never to stop being curious.