Books I’m Reading



  • Lean Analytics: Use Data to Build a Better Startup Faster (Croll, Yoskovitz)
    • “What is a Concierge MVP? A concierge approach in which you run things behind the scenes for the first few customers lets you check whether the need is real; it also helps you understand which things people really use and refine your process before writing a line of code or hiring a single employee.”
    • “Lean, analytical thinking is about asking the right questions, and focusing on the one key metric that will produce the change you’re after.”
    • What Makes a Good Metric? Comparative; Understandable; Is a ratio or a rate; Changes the way you behave
    • Five things to keep in mind choosing the right metric: Qualitative vs. quantitative; Vanity vs. actionable; Exploratory vs. reporting; Leading vs. lagging; Correlated vs. causal
    • KPIs
    • Pirate Metrics
    • Eric Ries’s Engines of Growth: Sticky engine; Virality; Payment
    • Ash Maurya’s Lean Canvas
    • The Stages of Lean Analyics
    • One Metric that Matters (OMTM)
    • “Capture everything, but focus on what’s important”
    • “Every team reports to the entire company weekly on KPIs, movement and summaries… having company-wide transparency into the metrics keeps us all informed”
    • “By stripping our daily KPI reporting down to just a few metrics, it’s clear what we’re focused on as a company and how we’re doing”
    • Business growth comes from improving one of these five “knobs”: More stuff; More people; More often; More money; More efficiently
  • My Evolution as an Entrepreneur: The story of Blackwell Consulting (Blackwell)
    • Applying lessons learned at a big company, IBM, to starting a new one (Blackwell Consulting)
    • Lessons are also applicable to innovating within a large organization, offers a “road map for getting this done in a bureaucracy”
    • Emphasizes the importance of perseverence and effort
    • Colloquial writing style makes this a rewarding read
    • The emphasis on the importance of building relationships applies not just to sales but other roles as well
    • The summary “Getting Smarter and More Successful” sections at the end of each chapter are excellent
  • Lean Enterprise: Adopting Continuous Delivery, DevOps and Lean Startup at Scale (Humble, Molesky, O’Reilly)
    • Excellent treatment of Lean as applied to Software Delivery – tying together Lean Development, Lean Operations, Lean Analytics, Lean UX and Lean Startup concepts
    • Deployment Pipeline is a heavy focus area, building on Humble’s earlier book Continuous Delivery (whose Deployment Pipeline chapter is free online)
    • Other key themes:
      • The ability to utilize Self-service test environment provisioning to stand up test environments on demand (using a public cloud service if need be) is crucial to quickly run long-running tests via parallelization and avoid shared resource bottlenecks between projects
      • The Kanban method is the best approach for incremental, evolutionary improvement on an individual project basis – references the Anderson Kanban book below
      • “Actionable Metrics” and “One Metric That Matters” are much more effective than “Vanity metrics” to provide useful feedback on a project or process improvement initiative
      • GRC (Governance, Risk and Compliance) prevention-style enforcement (such as for PCI) should be balanced with the need for development teams to move quickly
      • A Product-oriented approach is more effective for both new product development and any custom software development than is a Project paradigm in delivering customer value
      • Innovation in process improvement works in much the same way as that for new product development, including Crossing the Chasm from Early Adopters to the Early Majority
      • Continuous Process Improvement should occur continuously during feature development and maintenance work, not as a separately scheduled initiative
  • BDD in Action: Behavior-Driven Development for the whole software lifecycle (Smart)
    • Author is primary contributor to Serenity-BDD reporting framework
    • Overview of BDD approach and various tools, languages
  • Kanban: Successful Evolutionary Change for your Technology Business (Anderson)
    • Case-study based description of how to apply Kanban approach to software project management
    • Includes a section comparing / contrasting to Goldblatt’s Theory of Constraints
    • Lays out the essentials of Kanban (as it applies to software projects) better than I’ve seen anywhere else
    • Describes a classification approach called “Class Of Service” I’ve seen only here, such as for distinguishing between Urgent / Date-driven / ImportantNotUrgent / Slack items, using Kanban WIP limits to manage each class
    • Good section on SLAs – basis for how well the process is working from a delivery standpoint
    • Good section on metrics and reporting, how to best use Kanban tools like the Cumulative Flow Diagram and metrics like Cycle / Lead time
  • The Art of Unit Testing: With Examples in .NET (Osherove)
    • Very readable, pragmatic writing style
    • Includes not just DI info, but how to name and organize test bodies, etc.
    • Other topics include Fakes (umbrella term for Mocks and Stubs), Integration vs. Unit, Isolation frameworks compared
  • CLR via C#: 4th Edition (Richter)
    • Excellent reference for the CLR specifically and C# by example
    • Some of the most valuable topics: Delegates,  Exception handling, Heap and GC, Threads, Async ops, Sync constructs
  • ThinkStats: Probability and Statistics for Programmers
    • Examples in Python
  • Dependency Injection with Unity (Betts / Melnik et al.)
    • Great intro to using MSFT Unity Framework
    • Many examples in the context of real apps
    • Topics include Dependency Injection, Interception


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