My readings this April
Muse #483 - you cant unknow what you add...
These are the four books that I read in April. As the weather improves, my walking increases. And as my walking increases, it leads to more reading.
I do have a bad habit though. I am able to only read unabridged books in full. I don’t do summaries and would like to appreciate what the author was trying to do in full. Sometimes it leads to reading stuff that is boring or repetitive, but again I still give them the full space to appreciate their perspectives.
The Pragmatic Programmer - this is the twentieth-century revision to the classic by Dave Thomas.
If you are a programmer and care about the code then this is a book for you. However, the practice of the craft is systemic and often as good as the weakest link. As a community, the software industry has yet to catch up to these recommended patterns and this reinforcement is a great update to many of these patterns which were quite valid decades ago.
Radical Candor - Kim Scott.
I bought this book a while back. Should be a couple of years ago. And had an on-again, off-again relationship with it. And finally, this month got it to completion. If I read this book ten years ago I would have been enamored by it. But this time it was just meh. There are two parts to this book - one that defines transparency and candor and its potential approaches. And the second part is about Kim and her experiences in various organizations and her application of some principles. The second part is just cosmetic. One can evaluate how something is useful to someone in their context. Taking these ideas and applying them is a whole new ballgame. I generally do not like these “It worked for me, so it will work for you” arguments. Those are context-free problem solving and lead to disaster. Notwithstanding that Kim is/has built a business around coaching these concepts. My take is “some things work for some people some of the time” and nobody knows which things, for whom, and when. Candor and transparency need a lot of sisters, cousins, neighbors, and bystanders as associated behaviors to succeed. Many authors get lost in their lens or model and this seemed to be one of them.
This is a fantastic book to read especially if one wants to make sense and survive in complexity. I picked this book as it was highly recommended by Seth Godin, one of my highly preferred daily read blogs. And it did not disappoint. Annie was a star poker player and her book on how to play this complex game which is a combination of skills, competencies, reading emotions, bluffing and pure luck is a primer on survival in an ever-changing world. A must-read to get ahead in life.
The cold start problem: How to Start and Scale Network Effects - Andrew Chen.
This is another gold pick this month. I have been following Andrew and his blog for a while now. And when it was also recommended by Seth Godin, I could not resist reading it. And even though his focus is on scaling new products and services - what he calls “cold start” the same ideas are valuable for any stage of the product life cycle. One can easily extrapolate these ideas to other contexts. Andrew’s work is a great showcase of case studies in the application of network theory to create business outcomes and “J” curves of growth, revenues, and profits. The practice of Network driven social change which he reviews through three lenses or pillars - engagement, acquisition, and economics can all be applied even to scale the change that I do with coaching teams. A must-read if you are in the product development space.