#TABReads: the Top 20 books we're reading this summer

Daniel Joseph
By Daniel Joseph under #TABLife, News 25 June 2015

It’s fair to say we are a team of voracious readers here at TAB HQ – besides the fact we love to learn, it is a necessity for us because the pace of change in our industry operates at lightspeed. With that in mind, I recently asked the team to contribute to a summer reading list of the recommended books that we could share amongst ourselves.

But looking at that list, it became immediately clear it’s valuable for anyone interested in innovation, Agile, user experience, driving transformational change – the list goes on. In fact, the books touch on themes that we see, time and again, in the many questions our clients face.

So whether it’s building more nimble teams, understanding the role of strategic design – or getting to grips with the tenets of lean software development – the non-fiction books below offer plenty of food for thought, and come as recommended by our expert strategists, engineers and designers here at TAB HQ.

We would love to know what you think of the books below, or even if you have a recommendation for us – you can let us know on Twitter by tweeting @theappbusiness or using the following hashtag #TABReads.

People and teams

Work Rules! – Laszlo Bock, 2015

Data-driven recommendations about how to recruit, develop and retain talent from Google’s People Operations department. Evidence-based recommendations that can be applied by anyone, this book is useful for anyone trying to recruit the very best people to their company or team – and get the best out of them.

Recommended by: Dan Joseph
Buy it here on Amazon

Quiet: The Power of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking – Susan Cain, 2013

Unpacking the important differences between introversion and extroversion, and the impact on that has on every aspect of our lives. Required reading for everyone who is, works with, or has ever met an introvert. It will change the way you perceive situations in your life, whoever you are.

Recommended by: Brett Thornton
Buy it here on Amazon

Together: The Rituals, Pleasures and Politics of Cooperation – Richard Sennett, 2013

A comprehensive journey through the history of cooperation. This is the second part of LSE sociologist Sennett’s as yet incomplete trilogy on ‘the skills people need to sustain everyday life’. With cooperation and collaboration being at the core of what (most of us) try to do everyday, it’s a great read with well chosen historical examples stretching from the medieval to today’s technology and social networks.

Recommended by: George Proudfoot
Buy it here on Amazon

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants – Malcolm Gladwell, 2013

An exceptionally well-written and inspirational book that asks us to re-evaluate what we think we know about strength, success and advantage in life and in business. David and Goliath will open your eyes to opportunity – everywhere around us, and even in what seems like the most unlikely of places.

Recommended by: Emily Maginess
Buy it here on Amazon

Business, organisation and culture

Creativity, Inc. – Ed Catmul, 2014

The story of how Pixar developed its uniquely creative and high-performance culture. Anyone looking to build effective, self-organising teams can pick up some practical and inspirational lessons from this book.

Recommended by: Dan Joseph
Buy it here on Amazon

Our Iceberg Is Melting – Kotter and Rathgeber, 2013

A charming story of a penguin colony in which a few can see that their iceberg is melting and need to persuade everyone else to change their way of life. This is a memorable story about the steps to take to drive transformational change in big, old organisations where a few ‘get it’ but many others have fingers in ears.

Recommended by: Dan Joseph
Buy it here on Amazon

The Hard Thing About Hard Things – Ben Horowitz, 2014

A straight-talking look at how hard it is to build successful companies and what to do when stuff gets really hard and goes wrong. Brutally refreshing, it zooms out and provides context for how hard building successful products, teams and companies is – and what to do when the going gets tough.

Recommended by: Dan Joseph
Buy it here on Amazon

Great by Choice – Jim Collins, 2011

Uncertainty, chaos and luck: why do some thrive despite it all? This book provides evidence-based insight into why some business succeed and others struggle while facing the same problems.

Recommended by: Ant Gardiner
Buy it here on Amazon

Personal development

The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results – Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan, 2013

The ONE Thing will bring your life and your work into focus. The authors teach you the tricks to master what really matters to you. Anyone who struggles with a work-life balance should give this book a read. It shows you how to be more productive – and may even improve your quality of life.

Recommended by: Rob Corradi
Buy it here on Amazon

Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead – Sheryl Sandberg, 2013  

Facebook COO and billionaire wonder woman Sheryl Sandberg shares experiences of womanhood and motherhood in a male-dominated tech industry. Lean In looks at the social expectations and difficulties experienced by women in the workplace. A useful tool to both women and men working in male-dominated industries.

Recommended by: Anna Fletcher Morris
Buy it on Amazon here

Who Moved My Cheese - Dr Spencer Johnson, 1999

A short story about 4 characters that deal with change in different ways. They live in a maze looking for cheese that represents what we want out of life. Change is all around us, and necessary: how we deal with change is critical to success.

Recommended by: Ant Gardiner
Buy it on Amazon here

Tech industry

Pressed for Time: The Acceleration of Life in Digital Capitalism – Judy Wajcman, 2015

Examines the widespread negative perception that smartphones and the Internet are eating all our time. A real shot in the arm for those who believe in the power of technology and software to enhance our lives. We’re not in thrall to the machine after all…

Recommended by: John Adams
Buy it here on Amazon

The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies – Erik Brynjolfsson, 2014

A whirlwind tour of the latest tech, where it’s headed and what that means for society. Two free thinkers at the forefront of their field show us the forces that are driving the change in our lives (and economy).

Recommended by: John Adams
Buy it here on Amazon

Twenty-one Dog Years: Doing Time – Mike Daisey, 2002

The story from the inside of Amazon.com and how vertical growth isn’t always what it seems. Both crazy and crazy funny, this is an extremely well written account of what it was like to work in a ‘dot.com’ company that eventually grew into the giant known as Amazon.

Recommended by: Tim Gibson
Buy it here on Amazon

User/customer experience

The Ten Principles Behind Great Customer Experiences – Matt Watkinson, 2012

A distillation of the principles that make or break any customer experience – digital or not – and great practical tools to achieving them. Very powerful guidelines for creating great customer experiences. Exactly what it says on the cover.

Who recommended it: Jean-Francois Hector
Buy it here on Amazon

Exposing the Magic of Design – Jon Kolko, 2011

A insightful guide to synthesising observations and data from research into new, powerful product ideas and design solutions. One of the best guidelines on strategic design that TAB’s strategy team has come across. Truly insightful.

Recommended by: Jean-Francois Hector
Buy it here on Amazon

Engineering

Lean software development: An Agile toolkit – Mary and Tom Poppendieck, 2003

An essential reference book that helps translate the learnings from lean Japanese car manufacturing to software engineering. As the title says, a good toolkit to help understand what constitutes waste in what we do and how to deal with it.

Recommended by: Ant Gardiner
Buy it here on Amazon

Design patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software – Gamma, Helm, Johnson and Vlissides, 1994

Part of the secret of this book’s success is in the power of articulating simple ideas; it acts as a reference and a reminder, to even the most seasoned coder, that conquering complexity first requires you to master the basics. Probably the one book that every programmer in the world should read when they start their career.

Recommended by: Riccardo Bennett-Lovsey
Buy it here on Amazon

Programming WCF Services: Design and Build Maintainable Service-Oriented Systems – Lowy and Montgomery, 2015

Two of the best software architects in the world are also amazingly good at explaining each aspect of WCF and how it relates to key architectural considerations. Not yet released, but previous editions have been read and this latest one promises to be the best yet. This book will make you rethink what you know about architecture.

Recommended by: Riccardo Bennett-Lovsey
Order it here on Amazon

The Pragmatic Programmer – Andrew Hunt and David Thomas, 1999

Great advice, rules of thumb and analogies that can help any programmer to take their skills to another level. Relevant for any level of developer and any programming language, it’s one of very few tech books you’d consider reading more than once.

Recommended by: Mat Gurgul
Buy it here on Amazon