2020 Book Reads: Agile, Innovation, and Transformation

For the second year in a row, I share with you all the books that I read as part of my GoodReads challenge. My top books from 2019  included reads about transformation, including The Ride of a Lifetime and The Technology Fallacy, books for entrepreneurs such as Lost and Founder and Inspired, and AI books such as AI Superpowers.

This year, my reading covered several themes and represent my journey from pre-COVID, through COVID's early months, and then through my personal and StarCIO business transformation.

Here's the list:

Books Read by Isaac Sacolick 2020

I already wrote posts on my two favorite 2020 reads. My favorite book provides a futuristic lens on the convergence of multiple technologies, and "unlike many futuristic books, the authors write specifically to a ten-year horizon, a perfect timeframe for their thesis." 

The second post and favorite read focuses on social media, and the writer provides a unique perspective on social media's value and challenges. "Very few people have such broad expertise, direct experience as an entrepreneur, VC, and data scientist at social networks, and also background from working closely with Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, WeChat, and The New York Times."

My Personal Journey

Leave Only Footprints by Conor Knighton

Some of my 2020 book choices helped me adjust during COVID's early and dark days. I went from a booked travel calendar to deliver workshops, keynotes, and transformation programs to a near-empty schedule. None of us could imagine these scenarios, and I read Kurt Vonnegut's books Slaughterhouse-Five and Breakfast of Champions to bring me into darker and crazier worlds. They were escapes and reminding me that things could be a lot worse. 

Flea's book, Acid for the Children, brought me back to my teen years, where I played bass guitar, went record shopping in Greenwich Village, and got my first experiences on stage. The best part of this book is learning about Flea's musical influences, and I built several new playlists while reading about them.

But my favorite book on this personal journey was Conor Knighton's Leave Only Footprints, where he tells about his yearlong quest to visit all the US national parks. What better way to gain a healthier and forward-looking perspective than reading a travel book on the country's most awe-inspiring, natural wonders.  

My Learning Journey

Good Strategy Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt

Every year I read a few books to advance my skills and gain others' opinions on topics that I write, speak, and guide transformations. My main focus areas include digital transformation, strategy, agile planning, innovation, product management, DevOps, big data, data science, data governance, ITSM, and other CIO and CDO (digital and data) competencies.

I read a great book on agile last year, The Scrum Fieldbook, by J.J. Sutherland that really covers agile mindsets well. I found Gene Kim's The Unicorn Project to be an even more balanced DevOps read than The Phoenix Project as it showcases many disciplines tied to successful DevOps cultures. 

Two good reads on innovation, How Innovation Works by Matt Ridley and Loonshots by Safi Bahcall, both go through detailed histories of innovation as part of sharing their theories and insights. But I think my favorite read this year was Good Strategy Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt, a great deskside playbook for understanding and implementing good strategies.

One other book that stood out was Reed Hastings' Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention. Reed takes you through the Netflix culture story and how they unwound conventional and longstanding wisdoms on running businesses and establishing transformation-driving cultures. There's a lot of interesting ideas and good lessons in this book, though you'll have to decide which of them you can realistically implement at your company,

My Professional Journey

The Nuclear Effect by Scott Oldford

StarCIO, the company I lead, went through its own transformation in 2020 due to COVID and changing market conditions. It led to virtualizing our Driving Digital Workshops, launching three StarCIO Agile Guides, and developing the Driving Digital Roadmap Assessment. Stay tuned because I have the story written in my next book, which I'm just about done writing.

Some excellent books helped me with this journey, including The Nuclear Effect by Scott Oldford, They Ask You Answer by Marcus Sheridan, and Company of One by Paul Jarvis. Anyone running a small digital business will find value from these three reads.

So I'm off to a good start on 2021's reading challenge. Any recommendations?

1 comment:

  1. Great list! Thank you for sharing. I also recommend Clean Agile by Robert C Martin.


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About Isaac Sacolick

Isaac Sacolick is President of StarCIO, a technology leadership company that guides organizations on building digital transformation core competencies. He is the author of Digital Trailblazer and the Amazon bestseller Driving Digital and speaks about agile planning, devops, data science, product management, and other digital transformation best practices. Sacolick is a recognized top social CIO, a digital transformation influencer, and has over 900 articles published at InfoWorld, CIO.com, his blog Social, Agile, and Transformation, and other sites. You can find him sharing new insights @NYIke on Twitter, his Driving Digital Standup YouTube channel, or during the Coffee with Digital Trailblazers.