4 Essential IT Management Books

Since starting as a manager a couple of years ago, I’ve been doing a lot of RTFM on the topic.

In the process I’ve come up with a minimum viable reading list of books that I think all IT managers should read. Basically the criteria is roughly the following:

  • Cover a lot of ground
  • Are applicable to all levels of experience
  • Are high-impact: Provide topical insights on important issues often neglected in organisations.
  • Are delightful to read and kept my interest from cover to cover

I ended up with 4 books. I’ve listed them they form quite a nice sequence, starting from more general guidelines to ones which are more specific to IT management and it’s latest developments.

I’d be really interested to hear if people have other suggestions for books that should be on this list or some alternative lists.

Five Dysfunctions of a Team

A structured approach on how to grow a high-performing team. While the book is tells a story of a group of top management executives (hence the subtitle “A leadership fable”), it is by no means limited to this context and can be applied on all levels and even beyond the workplace.

Peopleware

A classic. Initially published in 1987 with the latest (3rd) edition published in 2013. Showing its age in a couple of spots but by and large very topical. If I were to pick just a single book to read it would be this. Especially the sections about Teamicide (how not to do team cohesion) were particularly memorable.

The Phoenix Project

Introduction to the 3 ways of DevOps in the context of a fictional story that I’m sure a lot of IT managers can relate to. I find that it complements Peopleware very nicely by showing how many of the ideals described in that book can be realized via DevOps.

Lean Enterprise

A fairly new book that pulls together a lot of threads including Lean Startup, Kanban, design thinking, 3 horizons model, DevOps etc. into a coherent package. The book references a lot of other works and thus it serves as a nice jumping-off point for more in-depth exploration of various topics.