All sources of this blog with a short, subjective review.
There are so many books on management and digitalization out there – so here is my take on the books I deem useful for anyone seeking light and direction for her or his organization.
The big picture
On digitalization or fundamental research
- Brynjolfsson, Erik, and McAffee, Andrew “The second machine age“, 2014. A book approaching Digitalization from an economic, social, political and historical perspective. Inspiring, provoking bold speculation about the big picture of things to come
- Gordon, Robert J. “The rise and fall of American growth: the US standard of living since the civil war“, 2016. The Antithesis to Brynjolfssons techno-optimists view. It is not a techno-pessimist view, though. Rather this is a view what might happen if digital is not reshaping the world as measured in GDP terms. Both books should be read, as literature on digitalization is always subject to hype, Gordons down to earth, data-driven view is much needed
- Kurzweil, Ray “The Singularity is near: When humans ascend biology“, 2006. I stumbled upon this rather futuristic-seeming book while reading Salim Ismael’s “Exponential Organizations” and wanted to know more about the concept of abundance and where this all might lead to. It’s a prediction, but not an unfounded one esp. since it’s a prediction made in 2006 which looks now, in 2016 even more valid than before. Recommended
- Brynjolfsson, Erik, and McAfee, Andrew “Machine, Platform, Crowd. Harnessing out Digital Future“. A continuation of their 2014 book “The second machine age”. A good read, but not as strong as the first one.
- Lewis, Michael, “The Undoing Project: A Friendship that changed the world“, 2016. A book about the theories of Nobel Prize winners Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky told by an expert storyteller. The most convenient way of getting to know this groundbreaking work which will impact your view on “reality”.
- Kelly, Kevin, “What technology wants“, 2011. An incredible well resarched book about the underlying dynamic and direction of technology. Written by Silicions Valleys philosopher in chief. The “will” of technology is a mega trend of its own. Understanding it is paramount for deep insights.
Digitalization at its core
- Humble, Jez; Molesky, Joan; O’Reilly, Barry “Lean Enterprise: How high-performance organizations innovate at scale”, 2015. A wonderful, bold cross-over from agile IT Development practices to organizational models and even cooperate culture. Has a strong IT touch to it, but still a recommended read for any IT minded executive. For a quick overview see Slideshare or the Lean Organization Book launch video.
- Ries, Eric “The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs use continuous innovation to create radically successful Businesses“, 2011. The classic book for everyone interested in the themes of this blog. I have not identified one disbeliever yet. Fundamental read.
- Tse, Edward “Chinas Disruptors: How Alibaba, Xiaomi, Tencent and other companies are changing the rules of business“, 2015. A bit of a cross-over between China and Digitalization, this book describes Chinese companies and their leading actors in a concise, well-informed manner. The immense dynamics and the degree of sophistication of Chinese Companies are something western managers need to understand, as these are or will be the competitors or partners at their doorstep soon. “Leading edge” is not limited to western companies anymore.
- Ismael, Salim “Exponential Organizations: Why new organizations are ten times better, faster and cheaper than yours (and what to do about it)“, 2014. An original view of how all organizations will need to change in the digital economy. Inspiring insights for business practitioners. Not an academic book, though.
- Westerman, George; Bonnet, Didier; MacAffee, Andy “Leading digital: Turning Technology into transformation”, 2014. The authors more or less follow the classical way transformation has been described own other books before: Get a vision, define a strategy and implement it while focussing on cultural change. Too many case studies which, to my taste, are a bit too shallow. But still a good book and relatively easy read.
- Sutton, Robert I. and Rao, Hugo: “Scaling up excellence“, 2014. Growth is so dear to so many executives, but only a few know the art of scaling. Basically, if you try to scale suboptimal practices, you end up with suboptimal outcomes and sometimes bankruptcy. In a Digitalization context, this is a strong read, because of after all experimentation, getting things to scale quickly is the essence of gaining profits.
- Kotter, John: “Accelerate: Building agility for a faster moving world”, 2014. Kotter promotes establishing an informal network beside the classical organizational hierarchy and run these two “operating systems” at the same time in on organization. He approaches at this conclusion as a result of his long lasting work on change management. I think even the analogy to operating systems running at the same time on the same system, integrated is deeply flawed and – besides – reveals a total lack of understanding of IT. I do not think this model is useful, but at last Kotter still, recognizes the need to change and that something needs to be done to accelerate transformation and sustain change.
- Humble, Jez and Farley, David: “Continuous Delivery – Reliable Software Releases through Build, Test, and Deployment Automation“, 2010. A book solely on continuous delivery not technical enough for software engineers, but to technical for IT managers. A bit repetitive. I prefer the shorter, more concise chapters on the subject in Humble/Molesky/O’Reilly, see above.
- Varian, Hal, and Shapiro, Carl: “Information Rules: A Strategic Guide to the Network economy“, 1998. Hal Varian, a writer of standard economic textbooks for undergraduate economists turned chief economist at Google, applied standard economic analysis to the very special good “information” in 1998. He came up with many of the fundamental forces that drive the digital economy to this date. Sober and visionary.
- Thiel, Peter, and Masters, Blake: “Zero to One: Notes on Startups or how to build the future“, 2014. The Pay Pal founder (he shares that title with the likes of Elon Musk) central thesis is that globalization is a commodity skill – the main skill required of a company is to build new products. Although a pretty new book, his insights are already part of the mainstream thinking of Silicon Valley. A clear mind with radical thoughts on technology.
- Dyché, Jill: “The New IT: How Technology Leaders are enabling business Strategy in the Digital Age“, 2015. A step by step guide for CIO’s for restructuring classic IT operations. Get away from just “keeping the lights on” to contribute to Innovation. Even if that means dissolving the IT department altogether.
- Humble, Jeff et al.: “The DevOps Handbook: How to create World-Class Agility, Reliability, and Security in World Class Organizations,” 2016. A very unwieldy, Nerdy named book, that only technology people will read. Which is a shame, as the potential multi-million investments that are needed to really turn any company into a technology-driven company, will be hard to sell if the makers of the decision do not understand the importance of blending development and operations. But this book really helps to build a pitch to those ignorant.
- Keese, Christoph: “Silicon Germany,” 2016. An excellent book in the German language about how Germany should approach the digital revolution. A good blueprint for every other country except the US, too.
- Stone, Brad: “The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb and the killer companies of silicon valley are changing the world,” 2017. This is a chronicle of two of the most amazing business stories of all times. Well researched, easy read. More entertaining than insightful, but I wouldn’t want to miss out on this one
- Stone, Brad: “The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the age of Amazon“, 2014. Biography of the – in many ways – most gifted of all CEO’s and the most powerful company. More on the Entertainment side, but great, nevertheless.
- Vance, Ashlee: “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the quest for a fantastic future” 2016. A biography on Elon Musk that doesn’t fall into the trap of hero worship. What makes Elon unique in Silicon Valley is that he is building physical products, not digital platforms. Get the audiobook!
Management Systems applicable for the Digital Age
- Pfeffer, Jeffery: “Leadership BS: Fixing workplaces and Careers one truth at a time“, 2015. A critical book looking a the empirical evidence of commonly taught knowledge of leadership. Basically, all the messages about leadership are just sermons delivered by preachers: Inspiration yes, Insight none. A realistic book, excellent, fact-based, empirical. By confronting the facts about the current state of leadership, digitalization may succeed. Triple-A read for your personal career and well-being, too.
- Hamel, Gary: “What Matters Now: How to win in a world of relentless change…“, 2016. I hated this book. Bring, until I got to the last chapter named “The Ideology of Management” which is the essence of much of what this Blog, Management Digital, stands for. Well done, Gary!
- Bock, Laszlo: “Work rules! Insights from inside Google that will transform the way you live and will lead“, 2016. Written from an HR perspective, this book goes into greater detail than the one by Schmidt and Rosenberg. As Mr. Bock is HR (he would not call it that way) director at google, it smacks of political correctness, so much that it is subject to bashing in a witty critic by the guardian. Still, it is a great book – there are so few first-hand accounts by people who tried new forms of organizations successfully, at large scale and over years.
- Schmidt, Erik and Rosenberg, Jonathan: “How Google works“, 2014. Explains the way management works inside Google Corp. Written by a celebrity CEO, so it is biased and politically correct. Nevertheless, there are few places where management has conducted large-scale experiments on management over years. Great and humble ideas.
- Stanley A. McChrystal, David Silverman, Tantum Collins, Chris Fussell: “Team of Teams – New rules of engagement for a complex world“, 2015. Highly Readable, broad in scope and entertaining as well as insightful read is written with by authors who have been part of the immense transformational challenge facing the US forces during 2003 to 2010.
- Laloux, Frederic: “Reinventing Organizations: A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage of Human Consciousness,” 2014. What a title! Sounds like science fiction for MBA’s. It is a learned, interdisciplinary book combining psychology, sociology, history, and philosophy. It is way too mystic and grandiose for all but a few business leaders to read or take seriously. But its grand scale, the learned author, and the interesting case studies are thought to provoke. Combine this book with Kotter (see above) and Humble et al. (see above) and Pfeffer (see above) and interesting similarities can be derived. These books really support each other.
- Moore, Geoffrey: “Zone to Win: Organizing in a time of disruption,” 2015. Brand new, just released in November from an author whose 1991 Book “Crossing the Chasm” had a huge impact on the start-up scene. Slide share available.
- Roberston, Brian J. “Holacracy. The New Management System for a rapidly changing world“, 2015. The bible of the Holacracy Management System. Interesting even for those not thrilled by the radical nature of Holacracy, esp. in its detailed recipes for having more productive meetings.
- Carney, Brian M., and Getz, Isaac, “Freedom Inc. How Corporate Liberation unleashes Employee Potential And Business Performance“, 2016. Besides the occasional article and Frederic Laloux’s book, there are few sources on Liberated Companies. This is the main and best one I happen to know.
- Hsieh, Tony, “Delivering Happiness. A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose“, 2012. This is the biography of Zappos, an e-commerce Retailer that implemented Holacracy thoroughly. There are vast debates in the web about Zappos, its Success, and Future. This book offers a first-hand account by its founder and CEO. Zappos was bought by Amazon in 2009. It appears to be successful, still, but Amazon is not forthcoming with any detailed info.
- L. David Marquet: “Turn the Ship Around! A true story of turning Followers into Leaders“, 2015. Non-hierarchical Management on a nuclear submarine. Inspiring and entertaining!
- Appelo, Jurgen: “Management 3.0. Leading Agile Developers – Develop Agile Leaders“, 2010. Mr. Appelo lays out his vision of a management system that will help whole organizations to become agile, not just team. Rough at the edges, but thoughtful, well researched and entertaining to read. Why is it that so often former developers venture into management theory and come up with a lot of fresh thoughts? I love interdisciplinary work.
- Appelo, Jurgen: “How to change the World. Change Management 3.0“, 2012. A short special, short, discussion of Change Management and its changing Role in Agile Organizations. For those who liked reading Management 3.0.
- Appelo, Jurgen: “Managing for Happiness: Games, Tools, and practices to Motivate any Team.” A list of “Agile Workouts” that can be applied piece meal by any company or team. It appears that Mr. Appelo that moved his focus from introducing whole systems of management to small work-outs.
- Benko, Cathleen, and Anderson, Molly: “The Corporate Lattice. Achieving high Performance in the changing world of work“, 2010. A Book written on the new Work environments of the digital age from the HR perspective. By the way: A “Lattice” is a ladder going into any direction, 3 dimensional. As opposed to a one-dimensional, common ladder.
- Pflaeging, Nils; “Organize for complexity. How to get Life back into Work to Build the High-Performance Organization“, 2014. A short, concise, to the point guide towards the why, what and hows of building an agile organization. Original style, straight to the point.
- DeMarco, Tom, and Lister, Timothy, “Peopleware. Productive Project and teams“, 1987. A classic account of good team management with timeless appeal. Available in the 2016 third edition. Here is a summary.
- Jeff Gotthelf, “Lean vs. Agile vs. Design Thinking: What you really need to know to build high-performing digital product teams“, 2017. A very short 60-page treatise on the incompatibilities of these three systems and the de-facto corruption of these systems in most companies. A sobering and practical reminder of how to apply those techniques.
Agile at Team Level
- Sutherland, Jeff, “Scrum: The Art of Doing twice the work in half the time“, 2015. An excellent overview of Scrum from one who has been there at the 2001 Meeting on top of a mountain in Utah, the beginnings of Agile. A biblical setting 🙂
- Godin, Seth, “Tribes: We need you to lead us“, 2008. This shallow book was written by a marketing guru about communities of interest. I do like neither the grandiose style nor its lack of content nor it’s biased statements. But it’s popular.
- Adkins, Lysaa, “Coaching Agile Teams – A companion for Scrum Masters“, 2010. Offers practical insights into Servant Leadership from Project Perspective. Lots of detailed stuff, practical
- Rubin, Kenneth S., “Essential Scrum: A Practical Guide to the Most Popular Agile Process“, 2012. More Details about Scrum can only be found online, but a lot more dispersed.
- Smart, Andrew, “Autopilot: the Art and Science of Doing nothing“. An interesting, scientifically treatise about the value of mental focus, flow and rest. A quitessential component of any quest for good solutions in individuals, teams or companies.
Applied Data Science
- Gigerenzer, Gerd: “Risk Savvy: How to make good decisions,” 2015. A strong case for relying on simple rules instead of cumbersome statistical calculations in complex, uncertain situations. A good, inspiring advice to Managers, too. On top of that: If you ever want to understand the famous “Three doors problems” with Bayes Theorem, read it.
- Pentland, Alex: “Social Physics – How good ideas spread. The lessons from a new science“, 2014. I like books that bring structure to the murky realm of organizational culture. This one, written by an MIT professor, certainly does – in an entertaining, very knowledgeable way.
- Silver, Nate “The Signal and the Noise: Why so many predictions fail but some don’t“, 2012. If speed is the essence and scientific experimentation lights the way to ever changing, ever learning companies, this book much more than just about making good predictions. It’s about learning and learning is the one skill a company needs to learn.
- Fisher, Marschall, and Raman, Ananth: “The new Science of Retailing- How Analytics are transforming the supply chain and improving performance“, 2010. A book about Analytics in the Retail sector. A must read for Business active in Business to Customer businesses. It is analytical, so formulas are used for illustration purposes. It is a wonderful deep dive into the retail sector, where there is so much business potential if this wisdom can be applied.
- Tetlock, Philips: “Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction“, 2016. Complexity is at the hard of everything that modern management is about. Complexity equals uncertainty about cause and effects. Forecasting is what fills in the blank. Read Nate Silvers “The signal and the noise” first, then this book.
On Business Transformation and/or Information Technology – before the word digitalization has been invented but still relevant
- Collins, Jim: “Good to great: Why some companies make the leap and others don’t“, 2001. A classic which influenced nearly all business leaders, including Jeff Bezos and Eric Schmidt. What makes this book so positively unique is its reliance on comprehensive quantitative measurement of excellence, giving it academic rigor while still being an easy read. Its predictions have been followed up 10 years and found to hold truth, i.e. the companies classified as excellent beat the index in the long term.
- Gouillart, Francis J. and Kelly, James N.: “Transforming the Organization“, 1995. A classic work on business transformation which shaped not just my approach to business transformation, but for a whole lot of consultants. The book attempts to provide a holistic theory of business transformation, combining classical Literature as Hammer/Champy’s “Reengineering the corporation” or Thomas davenports “Business Process Innovation”. It does that nicely and old style, i.e. a lot of texts, few infographics but a lot of case studies. Nearly forgotten, as this is not a very spectacular book, but too solid to forget.
- Kempis, Rolf and Ringbeck, Jürgen “Do IT smart: Seven rules for superior information technology performance“, 1998. One of the first book to look at IT effectiveness on business results on an empirical basis, while still remaining hand on. Written by business people, a good read for anyone, no matter if the reader has a technical or business background. It’s old by now and some applications of IT are outdated, still a clear and concise read.
- Rumpelt, Richard P.: “Good Strategy – Bad Strategy. The Difference and why it matters“, 2011. My favorite quote from Rumelt: “Most companies do not have strategies”. So true, so unbelievable, so urgent to change. Without an understanding of strategy, no digitalization effort can succeed. Strong read!
- Hamer, Michael, and Champy, James: “Reengineering the Corporation“, 1990 (revised edition 1995). From the Inventors of the term Business Process Reengineering. The idea has been a great one, but the book is rather shallow and follows the case study line of thinking: “Look, these great companies did it. They surely can’t be wrong.”
- Davenport, Thomas H., “Process Innovation: Reengineering work through information technology“, 1992. A book by the a to this date very productive and IT interested Harvard Business Professor in the wake of Hamer and Champy’s work Business Process Reengineering, but a better one with more depth.
- Porter, Michael E: “Competitive Advantage: Creating and sustaining competitive advantage”, 1985 (and revised up to 2004). The classic work on corporate Strategy from this world’s corporate strategy guy. Used in Business Schools ever since
- Yourdon, Edward: “Death March“, 2003. Want to know why so many major transformation programs fail in today’s cooperations? This classic as vivid examples and lists reasons. All of those will sound familiar for those who spend some years in today’s major corporations
- Fredmund Malik, Jutta Scherer: “Strategy: Navigating the complexity of the New World“, 2013. An interesting, albeit a bit clumsily written view from a long-standing proponent of a system – and cybernetic theory and leadership. Malik gives wise, broad guidelines about what is needed now, that the world is more unstable.
- Jennings, Marianne: “The seven signs of ethical collapse: how to spot moral breakdowns before it is too late“, 2006. Taking lessons from the once rich and now infamous, e.g. ENRON, Jennings comes up with mitigation strategies. As these tendencies to move towards bad political structures wich will undercut performance are innate to hierarchical organizations, this is a strong read.
- Kleiner, Art: “Who really matters: the core group theory of power, privilege, and success“, 2003. Art Kleiner is the lead editor for strategy & business magazine, of which I am still an avid reader. He and Joel Kurtzman, another former lead editor of the magazine, appear to me as spiritual brothers: Very (business) wise.
- Kurtzman, Joel: “Common purpose: how great leaders get organizations to achieve the extraordinary“, 2010. Not an academic book, but very wise. It reads like a self-written eulogy of everything that was dear to Mr. Kurtzman in the realm of leadership. Joel Kurtzman died in 2016.
- Mintzberg, Henry: “The rise and fall of Strategic Planning: Reconceiving roles for planning, plans, planners“, 1994. A classic management book. It condemns the focus on planning processes and leads the way to picture strategic planning as a creative exercise. Extremely intelligent, extremely useful as it helps connect the old MBA wisdom to the learnings of the digital age.
- Cummings, Thomas G., and Worley, Christopher G.: “Organization Development and Change“, 10th edition, 2013. A textbook. Developing organizations, improving and preparing them for a new challenge is a skill. Immense knowledge has been accumulated since Frederick Winslow Taylors days. This 800 page, information dense academic textbook, provides all the basic knowledge in this field. All other books listed in this directory of the source on this page, stand on its shoulders, knowingly or not.
- Ertel, Chris and Solomon, Lisa Kay: “Moments of impact: how to design strategic conversations that accelerate change“, 2014: Building on Mintzberg’s work (see above), the two authors share their first-hand consulting experiences on helping companies to define a strategy -in a creative process most useful for getting to a digital strategy, for example.
- Héon, Francois et al: “The essential Mary Parker Follet: Ideas we need today“, 2014. Mary Parker Follet lived from 1868 to 1933. A personal consultant to president Theodore Roosevelt, she was instrumental in shaping the “New deal”. Her work on organizational theory is still valid and astonishingly advanced: The value of differences, group organization, the process of integration – incredibly accurate observations. Autonomy focused new work forms are no new management fads – they have been around for 100 years by now.
- Schein, Edgar H.:”Humble Inquiry: The gentle Art of asking instead of telling“, 2013. Mr. Schein, on the leading organizational psychologists, is quoted so often in so many books, esp. on digitalization, that I could not help but read at least his latest book. The silver bullet in conversations: Listening and transformative questions. Read it!
- Langer, Ellen J.:”Mindfulness“, 25th-anniversary edition, 2014. Quoted so often in other books this book seems to be a must read for all silicon valley folks and leadership enthusiasts. Simple messages, high impact, academic work – essential.
- Goulston, Mark: “Just Listen: Discover the secret to getting through to absolutely anyone“, 2015. I do not like the second half of the title – too bombastic. I picture this book as a practical extension to Ellen Langers “Mindfulness”. Anyone wanting to move an organization, in need to convince and build bridges will benefit from Mr. Goulstons advise.
- Ohno, Taiichi, “Workplace Management“. The classic account on the Toyota Productions system which inspired the whole Lean movement. A Classic.
- Drucker, Peter: “The Effective Executive: The definitive guide to getting the right things done“, 2017. A timeless classic. Still valid in the digital age. By one of the greatest managers of all time. Any questions?
- Townsend, Robert C., “Up the organization: How to stop the Corporation from stifling people and strangling profits“, 2007 Edition. A jewel. Full of 1960 heritage feeling (typewriters, secretaries, fax machine as major disruptors), very entertaining read and so revealing that liberating people and companies has been around for a long time – and forgotten somewhat thereafter to reemerge now in force due to digitalization.
A bit off topic
…but too good to miss for guys really interested in organization and management:
- Cray, Ed: “General of the Army. George C. Marshall, Soldier and Statesman“, 1990. A biography about one of the best organizers, the man who masterminded large parts of world war 2 and the reconstruction in the post-war period. Marshalls Management Style is definitely more relevant than ever.
- Kanigel, Robert: “The one best way – Frederick Winslow Taylor and the Enigma of Efficiency“, 1997. A biography of one of the most influential men in business organizations. Not a nice man, but a man whose thought dominate a lot of organizational DNA to this date. Interesting read for the historically minded.
- Acemoglu, D. and Robinson, J.A “Why nations fail: the origins of power, prosperity, and poverty“, 2012. Besides Korea, China and Singapore, why haven’t more countries joined the league of developed nations. Why are most companies still as far behind as 100 years before? MIT’s Acemoglu and Robinson point toward defunct political systems. Long history, strong theory with a huge contemporary impact. The full lecture notes
- Nicholson, Adam: “Seize the Fire: Heroism, Duty, and Nelsons Battle of Trafalgar“, 2016. Historical insights on leadership. If it were not for General Stanley Mc Chrystal, who cited it many times, I would never have spotted this jewel of a book
- Brand, H.W.: “The Man who saved the union: Ulysses Grant in War and peace,” 2012. A remarkable biography of a remarkable war and peacetime leader. To see a failed drunkard, seemingly failed men of 40 years, becoming America’s war-winning general and peacetime president is fascinating and tells a story about people in general (pun intended)
- Tapperman, Jonathan: “The Fix: How Nations survive and thrive in a world of decline“, 2016. A book about successful solutions to major problems in the world, using real-world examples. These solutions are often data-driven and evolved from experimental approaches to combat big evils like terrorism, energy scarcity, corruption etc. Inspiringly positive
- Kearns Goodwin, Doris: “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln“, 2006. Lincoln leadership style is a lesson is Servant Leadership.
Bloggers on Digital and Business Transformation
- Dion Hinchcliffe: “On Digital Strategy: notes on the Internet and Business Convergence“: The co-author of two books titled “Web 2.0 Architectures” and “Social Business by Design”. Dion focuses on more on social media within Digital strategy.
- Steve Blank: “Steve Blank Podcast“: A long time Silicon Valley shares his strong opinions about digitalization, entrepreneurship and the lean startup movement. I was particularly impressed by his post Why Tim Cook is Steve Balmer… But Steve moves beyond the enterprise sector and deploys his thinking on governmental, political and humanitarian crisis fields, too. Enlightening.