At the beginning of 2016, I made a list of ten books I wanted to read throughout the year. I only read three from that list but also six other books that I discovered and found more interesting. Without further ado, here’s what you would have found on my night stand this year.
Marc Stickdorn, Jakob Schneider, Schneider Jakob — This is Service Design Thinking: Basics-Tools-Cases
Everything in this book reads like “Listen really good to your users and clients and then be really creative when solving their problem.” I did not understand what additional value service design thinking provides when compared to “classic” design thinking or maybe there just isn’t one. This book is at best a loose collection of poorly written case studies many of which read like the authors copied them from their agencies marketing materials — an utter waste of time and money.
Peter Ackroyd — London, The Biography
Peter Ackroyd must have read anything ever published that only marginally references London and compiled it into this comprehensive history of this magnificent city. If you love London this book is a must read.
Tom DeMarco, Tim Lister — Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams
Whether you are a manager or work as an individual contributor on a software team, read this book. Then read it again once a year throughout your whole career. DeMarco and Lister discuss many inter-personal problems in organizations and what you can do to avoid them. And no, they won’t tell you how to estimate tasks reliably.
Dava Sobel — Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time
This book is the story of John Harrison who built the most precise chronographs at his day to address the problem of longitudinal positioning of ships on the ocean. It strikes me how hard Harrison had to defend his ideas against political and commercial interests of other more established competitors. It’s a prime example that not the best idea wins but the one people (want to) understand.
Carlos Bueno — The Mature Optimisation Handbook
Building fast software is hard. Identifying components that need improvement is even harder. Bueno discusses what to measure, how to measure and how to make sense of the numbers. It’s a small read, but it’s incredibly valuable.
Laszlo Bock — Work Rules
In a nutshell: Google is the greatest place on earth to work for; so remarkable that there is not much room for critical reflection. That said, you will still find lot’s of valuable ideas about how to recruit and keep talent on board, many of which can be applied to any organisation.
Don Norman — The Design of Everyday Things
If you build things, this book will help you understand how the appearance of your products shapes how your products are used. Don Norman draws from theories of psychology and shows how these ideas can be applied to build better, more usable product. The book sometimes gets caught in discussing design flaws of objects that never really bothered me (Seriously, who can’t work out how a bath tab works) but these generic everyday examples also help to understand the subject.
And I also read:
- Florian Illies — 1913: Der Sommer des Jahrhunderts
- David Foster Wallace, Mark Costello — Signifying Rappers