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5 books that everyone should read in 2018

5 books that everyone should read in 2018

Since this time of the year typically provides a good reason for reflecting on the 12 months that have passed, I thought it would be useful to share a brief list of five books I would recommend and explain why you should read them. In addition to providing a short summary, I have also included links to my personal notes and observations on each book.

Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork, and the Myth of Total Efficiency by Tom DeMarco

A short book but one which covers so many diverse topics in its 33 chapters. Instead of trying to summarise it, I’d like to highlight some topics which were important to me: focus on business – not busyness; pressure can slow everything down not speed it up; overtime leads to undertime, so it never results in more being done; a culture of fear stops people saying things which need to be heard; and finally: give people a bit more trust then you are comfortable with.

Read my extended notes here.

 

Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders by L. David Marquet

This book looks at how it is possible to empower a team even if they are in a high pressure and very risky environment. It talks about giving up control, building competencies and clarity. Some of the key points: avoid giving orders; be curious; think long-term (even longer than your presence in the team); remove things which don’t add value and focus on people and passing on information. This book is especially useful for people who are not easily won over from a more command and control view.

Read my extended notes here.

 

Black Box Thinking: Why Some People Never Learn from Their Mistakes – But Some Do by Matthew Syed

Put simply: treat everything as an experiment. The book gives some great examples of what organisations should do in order to give people the space and support to achieve this. It offers some great comparisons between the healthcare industry, where there is no experimentation, to the airline industry, where each flight is treated as an experiment. It also highlights psudo-experiments without a control sample and highlights why they are dangerous, but convincing.

Read my extended notes here.

 

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink

I was convinced to read this after watching the related TED talk a few years ago. The TED talk covers a significant amount of content from the book but it is quite a short. The book goes into more detail on the importance of mastery, autonomy and purpose being the main motivators in creative roles. It also highlights why bonuses and carrot-and-stick type motivation are bad for creative roles. The book provides a number of tools which are particularly interesting.

Read my extended notes here.

 

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull

“Unleashing creativity requires that we loosen the controls, accept risk, trust our colleagues, work to clear the path for them, pay attention to anything that creates fear. Doing all these things won’t necessarily make the job of managing a creative culture easier. But ease isn’t the goal; excellence is.” This is the story of some of the challenges at Pixar, and is surprisingly similar to agile software development – they iterate from story board to finished film.

Read my extended notes here.

I hope you enjoyed my list! Please leave a comment below if you can think of other books that people should read in 2018.

Richard Haywood, head of Ocado Technology Sofia

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