Thursday, October 15, 2015

What To Read

There was an opportunity at a recent open space conference for Mike Rizzi and myself to conduct a short session on "what to read."

As expected, there is more here than anyone could hope to digest in a year of hard reading, but I think this might be interesting to the Agile Otter audience, and I hate to waste all the good work Mike did in organizing and fact-checking the titles.

Here is Mike's note from the conference proceedings: 

In this session, everyone wrote on large index cards titles of books that have inspired them. They were then arranged them on the floor looking for patterns and affinities. We then took turns saying why each book inspired or helped us. The fast paced discussions were fascinating, and I left with even more books to add to my reading pile(s).   -- mike rizzi


  • Symposium and Phaedrus - Plato
  • Liftoff: Launching Agile Teams & Projects - Diane Larsen & Ainsley Nies
  • Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre - Keith Johnstone
  • Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder - Nassim Nicholas Taleb (On Tim's list)

  • Artful Making: What Managers Need to Know About How Artists Work - Robert Austin and Lee Devin
  • Esther Derby blog - - (Tim's frequent visit)
  • Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork, and the Myth of Total Efficiency - Tom DeMarco - (Tim owns but hasn't completed)
  • Pair Programming Illuminated - Laurie Williams & Robert Kessler - (One of Tim's favorites)
  • Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error - Kathryn Schulz

  • The Leader's Handbook: Making Things Happen, Getting Things Done - by Peter Scholtes - (recommended for alternatives to "traditional" management and employee assessment).
  • Behind Closed Doors: Secrets of Great Management - Johnna Rothman & Esther Derby
  • The Barbarian Way: Unleash the Untamed Faith Within - Erwin Raphael McManus (warning: christian content) (Tim recommends for what it teaches about courage).
  • The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being – Daniel J. Siegel M.D. (Interesting for teaching about choosing curiosity over judgment)
  • Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams (3rd Edition) - Tom DeMarco & Timothy Lister

  • Thinking, Fast and Slow - Daniel Kahnneman
  • Facilitator's Guide to Participatory Decision Making - Sam Kaner
  • The Honest Truth About Dishonesty - Dan Ariely - ("Permission to be human" -- this describes how people behave wrt honesty or cheating, and so allows us to understand how our fellow man operates as well).

NOT PUT IN AN AFFINITY GROUP - (Both brilliant works on human behavior and how to operate your own brain-- helpful for leading teams).
  • Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us - Daniel Pink
  • Your Brain at Work - David Rock

  • Lean UX - Jeff Gothelf
  • Working Effectively with Legacy Code - Michael Feathers - (A classic!)
  • Nature of Software Development - Ron Jeffreis
  • The Craft of Research - Wayne Booth and Gregory Colomb
  • Essential Scrum - Ken Rubin

  • Kanban: Successful Evolutionary Change for Your Technology Business - David J. Anderson & Donald G Reinertsen
  • Manage It!: Your Guide to Modern, Pragmatic Project Management - Johanna Rothman
  • The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People - Stephen Covey - The classic! Tim prefers "first things first" of the two habits books by Covey.
  • The Scrumban [R]evolution - Ajay Reddy
  • Hyper-Productive Knowledge Work Performance - Steve Tendon & Wolfram Müller
  • Principles of Product Development Flow - Donald G. Reinertsen (card note: Eye opening)

  • The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization - Peter M. Senge
  • How to Make Sense of any Mess - Abby Covert
  • A First Look at Communication Theory - Em Griffin

  • Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die - Chip Heath & Dan Heath
  • Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work - Chip Heath & Dan Heath
  • Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard Hard - by Chip and Dan Heath
  • Agile Estimating and Planning - Mike Cohn 6 (card note: life changing)
  • Extreme Programming Explained: Embrace Change (1st Ed.) - Kent Beck - awesome.
  • The Art of Thought - Graham Wallas- (an influential work on how to cultivate or improve the quality of thinking)
  • Out of the Crisis - W. Edwards Deming - (A seriously counter-cultural classic book on how to change the industrial environment to be more effective, which includes being more humane and understanding systems)
  • The Scrum Guide - Schwaber & co. - 
  • Mary Poppendieck and Tom Poppendieck books - ALL of them
  • Psychology of Computer Programming - Gerald M. Weinberg - (another classic that examined the work of people who are thinking technically for a living!)
  • Perfect Software and other illusions about testing - Gerald M. Weinberg
  • Are Your Lights On?: How to Figure Out What the Problem Really Is - Donald C. Gause & Gerald M. Weinberg (Tim's favorite human-centered problem-solving book).
  • Reinventing Organizations - Frederic Laloux
  • Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders - L. David Marquet w/ Stephen R. Covey (Foreword)