Summer is nearly upon us and many of us will be on the beach or at the summer house/cabin/camp enjoying a good read or two. The following is a list of tomes that I have read over the past year that I have found useful, fascinating, prescient, or a combination of these and other attributes.
Unfortunately for you fiction lovers, I do not read much fiction (certain folks' blogs excepted..:) ) so I can only make two recommendations in that category - and one is a business "fable" as opposed to a novel.
Here is the list in no particular order:
Jeanne Ross, Peter Weill, and David Robertson, Enterprise Architecture as Strategy: Creating a Foundation for Business Execution, Harvard Business School Press, 2006. I was skeptical when this book came out last fall that it would be some dry, academic treatise that read like some 26-year-old's Ph.D thesis. Not so, in fact, it has guided a lot of my EA thinking ever since I read it. It is highly accessible to non-technical people (read: the business) as well. The clarity of the authors' path is very high, in essence build the foundation for execution from strategy, defining the business's operating model, and establishing the architecture in terms of the operating model with recognition of uncertainties. Hardcore model/diagram weenies may not like the absence of them, and some developers will complain about the level of abstraction, but that isn't their point or audience. The guidance given here is superb, and it's a book I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to non-IT management who ask what's in it for them with respect to EA.
Michael E. Raynor, The Strategy Paradox: Why committing to success leads to failure (and what to do about it), Currency, 2007. Raynor examines many examples where strategy and execution where top-notch, yet the efforts (e.g. Sony's Betamax) still failed - thus, the paradox of awesome strategy and execution still producing failure. I particularly liked his delineations between strategy, execution of strategy, and operations in terms of dealing with change and other forces that shape success. The book was a bit weak on prescriptive advice, largely leaving that to a small discussion of scenario-based planning and real options analysis - both disciplines that have their champions and detractors in their own right. The lessons here for enterprise architects and project managers is that they have to account for uncertainty to the extent possible, and how that's specifically handled is a green field for the most part.
Robert Sutton, The No-Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't, Business Plus, 2007. The title pretty much says it all. If you work with or for assholes, you get tremendous advice and tips to successfully deal with them. If you are an asshole in your workplace, you get guidance on changing your ways for the better and why it's not only important to you, but to your organization as well. A must read.
Timothy L. Johnson, GUST: The - Tale - Wind of Office Politics , Lexicon,2007. A business "fable" about office politics and how to successfully play the game. A very accessible tome that you can knock back in a day or two at the beach, and the concepts and advice are top-notch. Timothy is also a friend of mine as we met in the blogosphere, but he made me buy my own copy so this is an unbiased review...:)
Scott Berkun,The Myths of Innovation, O'Reilly, 2007. Examines and debunks a number of myths about innovation, such as "eureka" moments and the "lone wolf" coming up with breakthroughs in solitude. His counter-intuitive approach leads the reader to the real reasons how (and why) innovation happens. Disclaimer: Scott and I are friends through his pmclinic mailing list and I was provided with an advance copy of this book at no charge, but I would still write the same review had I purchased it and/or not known him.
Robert Kurson, Crashing Through: A True Story of Risk, Adventure, and The Man Who Dared To See, Random House, 2007. Thrilling story about a very successful man, blind since the age of three, as he weighs the risks of having a breakthrough operation that could restore his sight, or kill him. And what happens afterwards. Very hard to put down.
Christopher Buckley, Boomsday, Twelve, 2007. From the author of Thank You for Smoking (also a hilarious movie) comes a work of fiction set a few years into the future where Gen Y gets all pissy about having their taxes raised 30% to care for of us retired Boomers - and have the female protagonist blog (natch) that all people should voluntarily commit suicide at age 70 to conserve government resources and revive a moribund economy a half-step away from depression. Absolutely hilarious and spot-on in places, drags in others, and I didn't care for the ending. Entertaining nonetheless.