Eight essential summer reads for the agile-minded
It’s a common theme that those leading digital transformations like to focus on new and emerging tools and technology. The problem is, they tend to place too much weight on the ‘DevOps dream’ rather than the steps needed to maximise the potential of the tools they’ve invested in.
Luckily for ECS Digital, we like to do things a little differently.
Rather than get sucked into the endless possibilities of the latest product releases – although our partnerships with some of the leading vendors in the DevOps space does mean we’re exposed to some pretty exciting technology – we balance the tools with the people and the process.
We do this because whilst tools can achieve groundbreaking results, it’s the people who make the tools perform the magic, and it’s the process that enables your team to scale this magic across your enterprise.
This is why all our consultants are trained up in the latest ways of working, soft skills and technology expertise, so when they embed into your teams during an engagement, they can achieve true, sustainable change for your business. Our consultants also have a habit of going above and beyond for our clients – learning from their peers, past engagements and self-teaching to put themselves in the best possible position to solve the problems of today, and put in place solutions that will safeguard and respond to the challenges of tomorrow.
Whilst most turn to YouTube tutorials, books remains a popular choice within the business. Easy to pack, download onto a kindle or pop onto your phone as an eBook, they seem to be the perfect option for when the team are out and about, or recharging their batteries on a white-golden beach with the sea breeze in their hair.
We appreciate that books within the DevOps and agile space aren’t always as riveting as delving waist deep into a classic Sci-Fi or a 19th century romance novel with a strong female protagonist, yet, there is the occasional diamond in the rough. Luckily for you, our team have pulled together their eight favourite titles, from the fundamentals of DevOps to how to apply more creative thinking to problem solving. We hope you find the space to squeeze at least one into your suitcase this summer.
Here we go…
The Phoenix Project
In the words of Tyrion Lannister, “there’s nothing in the world more powerful than a good story,” and like most things Tyrion says, he is right. In this case, Gene Kim, Kevin Behr and George Spafford turn a seemingly dry subject (business and IT management) into a relatable narrative by asking you to follow Bill’s journey as he attempts to salvage a very late and over budget IT initiative – code name Phoenix Project.
Whilst the 90-day time frame seems a little unrealistic, the lessons around the relevance of IT in the enterprise and how interconnected everything is within a business are of benefit to all readers. It gives you a better perspective on what is needed to survive and presents agile methodologies in a refreshingly fun way.
For those who already know and love The Phoenix Project, you’ll be excited to learn that Gene Kim already has plans to release the much anticipated follow-up book ‘The Unicorn Project‘ this autumn. If you attended this year’s DevOps Enterprise Summit, you may already have a copy…
The DevOps Handbook
Another classic from the rather distinguished Gene Kim – this time joined by Jez Humble, Patrick Debois and John Willis – the DevOps Handbook is a must read for those looking to understand how to implement DevOps culture to achieve high performance development and operations.
Whilst overwhelming in places, due to the sheer density of information and case studies, it truly breaks down the fact that DevOps is more than just a team with some nifty tools dedicated to one cause. DevOps is the transformation of the entire software development process. It is a change to the culture and mindset and this book lays out this philosophy well.
The Chimp Paradox
Written by psychiatrist Steve Peters, the Chimp Paradox is a refreshing reminder that we are all human. Beings with impulsive behaviour, self-doubt, fears and emotions. Peters takes the physical structure of our brain and builds an illustrative model that explains how each part contributes to the behaviour we exhibit on a daily basis.
Whilst IT initiatives often focus heavily on introducing new tools and technology, this is simply the spark at the beginning of the journey. Soft skills are fundamental to the success of a DevOps implementation and therefore our behaviour and mindset towards change are equally as important. The Chimp Paradox gives readers the opportunity to understand how to manage self-harming behaviour, using examples and exercises to help drive home the learnings and make them applicable to everyday life.
Neither patronising nor boring, this self-help book is a must for anybody looking to better themselves.
Ansible: Up and Running
As far as configuration management tools go, Ansible has some distinct advantages against its competitors. For starters, it’s minimal in nature, you are not required to install anything on your nodes, and it has an easy learning curve.
Considered the ‘Ansible bible’, O’Reilly delivers a no-nonsense introduction to Ansible, looking at everything from practical examples to writing playbooks, to how you can scale your Ansible deployments in terms of complexity and capacity.
Whilst it takes some hands-on work from the reader, there are some great chapters about using Ansible with AWS and Docker – extremely useful in today’s DevOps landscape!
The First 90 Days
This book does exactly what it says on the tin. Focusing on the first 90 days of any new role, this book identifies what you can do to properly plan your transition and make the right first impressions to greatly improve your chances of success. In short, this book offers a blueprint for finding out what you need to know, how to make contacts and who to make contacts with, how to formulate plans and how to operate in a new culture.
Considering that the majority of technology consultants and engineers spend time jumping between different clients and working environments, having a checklist to work from can be the difference between a successful engagement and one that ends as quickly as it takes to read this sentence. Luckily for you, this book is loaded with practical strategies, lessons, and advice for a smooth transition.
The Agile Samurai
Yes, the samurai seems to have been added for showmanship, and yes, a lot of the content within the book has evolved since its first release at the height of the ‘Agile’ fad in 2010, this book does continue to touch upon common frustrations and offers remedies to how you can overcome these challenges and put in place a more sustainable approach to software development.
Whilst no silver bullet, this book does offer helpful tidbits that remind you how to handle certain situations and refresh your skills. An interesting read for those looking to become more agile.
Who says the ‘creative types’ are the only ones who get to have fun. This book totally debunks the myth that you have to sit in a department with ‘creative’ painted in giant letters above unconventional desks, complete with thought-provoking cactuses and inspirational quotes framed in hot pink wood.
David and Tom Kelley – brothers with a passion for unleashing the creativity that lies within us all – take you a journey, uncovering principles and strategies that enable us to tap in our creative potential. The book is as much about coming up with ideas as it is about how we approach and solve problems. It also focuses on design-led thinking, asking readers to consider the practical application of an idea, rather than just the brilliance of it on paper. A mixture of both inspirational and practical tips, this is a must read for those looking to regain their creative side.
The Build Trap
Businesses that live and die by schedule-dependant outputs often fall into what is described as the “build trap”. This means that rather than focusing on meeting customer needs, you find yourself cranking out features to meet a timeline.
Whether you’re a consultancy looking to help your clients improve the CX for their customers, or you’re a business looking to become less output-led, this book considers everything from organisational culture to product management in order to help you shift from an output to an outcome focused organisation. A slightly heavier read, but a good one none-the-less.
As we’re not promoting on behalf of any of the authors above (we genuinely like the material!) we’ve deliberately not dropped in any links to the books. However, we have been reassured that you’ll have no trouble finding a copy on Amazon!
Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share the list as far and wide as takes your fancy.