…and why you should take the time to actually read them.
We have compiled a list of 10 must-read books for every Chief Technology Officer. Our recommendations contain examples of plans, proven insights and guidance to help you be remarkable. Each of these books has a unique approach or technique that you can tailor to your needs.
1. 'Modern CTO' by Joel Beasley
Joel Beasley provides you with an in-depth road map, human perspective and real practical advice on the challenges facing modern CTOs and how to successfully navigate the role. His personal experience is a refreshing take, gathering valuable insights from himself and other big players in the tech industry. The book covers a wide variety of areas for example; how to manage teams, code, business problems and communication.
2. 'Rework' by Jason Fried and David Hansson
This book offers an innovative and practical approach to getting work done and creating amazing products through its straight forward language. From the founders of the trailblazing software company 37 Signals, it is a different kind of business book that exposes myths that are currently holding you back and offers an alternative route to CTO success.
3. 'CTOs at work' by Stanley Siegel and Gary Donaldson
CTOs at work is full of interviews with many of the worlds most influential Chief Technology Officers, offering a brand new partner to the best selling 'Founders at Work' by Jessica Livingston. The compilation of interviews offers insights from the past, present and future CTOs from the worlds most successful organisations.
4. Confessions of an Unintentional CTO by Jack Kinsella
This is a first-hand experience from someone who started as a web programmer and was promoted to top-level position by accident. It is full of engaging and useful gems from the author who came face to face with challenges he had to overcome. It includes advice about web applications based on real users, and problems learned through his own experience and speaking to many software company CTOs.
5. Continuous Delivery by Jez Humble
Reviewing key issues, identifying best practices and demonstrating how to deliver excellent software, this is the essential book for CTOs. Throughout this text, the author sets out the principles and technical practices that enable rapid, incremental delivery of high-quality, valuable new functionality for users. The author introduces state-of-the-art techniques, including automated infrastructure management, data-migration and the use of virtualization.
6. Code: The hidden language of computer hardware and software by Charles Petzold
No matter what your level of technical savvy, Code will charm you and perhaps even awaken the technophile within. Author Charles Petzold weaves an illuminating narrative for anyone who's ever wondered about the secret inner life of computers and other smart machines. This book is a deep dive into not only computer code, but also systems such as Braille and more, helping CTOs gain real context for understanding today's digital world.
7. The hard thing about hard things by Ben Horowitz
This book is full of advice for CTOs covering challenges such as demoting (or firing) a loyal friend, dealing with smart people who are bad employees and managing your own psychology while the company depends on you. Ben Horowitz has a very honest opinion paired with a great sense of humour and speaks about how difficult it can be to run a business in a relatable way. This book, analyses problems that confront leaders every day, sharing the insights he's gained developing, managing, selling, buying, investing in and supervising technology companies.
8. Debugging Teams by Brian W.Fitzpatrick and Ben Collins-Sussman
Brain Fitzpatrick and Ben Collins-Sussman have been in the industry for 20 years and in this book, they share their wisdom on how successful teams work together. It's full of insights on how to lead a team effectively, navigate an organization and build healthy relationships with the users of your software. They say "Even among people who have spent decades learning the technical side of their jobs, most haven't really focused on the human component." Ultimately this book explains how investing in your 'soft skills', you can have a greater impact for the same amount of effort.
9. Scaling up excellence by Robert I.Sutton
The authors of this book tackle the challenge: how to scale farther, faster and more effectively as an organization grows. Made up of insider accounts, case studies and academic research from a number of different industries together all in one place. This amazing read opens the doors to corporate cultures, both good and bad, and offers a road map for establishing and simulating excellence.
10. Zero to One by Peter Thiel
This is not your average business book and it is a must-read for CTOs, entrepreneurs, start-ups and innovators who want to build a business that stands out from the crowd. Thiel offers new and fresh ideas on how you can create a better business along with a better future. When reading this you will discover the new way of thinking about innovation: it starts by learning to ask the questions that lead you to find value in unexpected places.
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