Yesterday it was Book Lovers’ day! Thanks to Brady Todd for reminding me.
Here is a list of books I have read recently and recommend.
– The Maverick by Ricardo Semler: this is a great classic on Leadership and on how to organize a company. It tells the story of Semco, a Brazilian company where all employees self-organize themselves, everybody is free to set their salary and working hours, and there is mostly no hierarchy. I am planning to write a longer post about this book, because I believe many of these practices were used at GSK when I joined there, and the company was organized into small units resembling self-organizing startups. It’s amazing that this book has been written more than 30 years ago!
– The Phoenix Project by Gene Kit: A classic Agile book. It tells the story of a company that slowly evolves from a legacy Waterfall strategy to Agile. It is written from the perspective of a developer, and towards the end, I was almost crying as I was reading the pages. It was so painful to read about all the crashes and big security holes when they released the software for the first time, and so fun to see how they improved the process! Will they be able to do ten deployments per day, or crash in the process? This is definitely a nerdish read!
– Game Wizards by Jon Peterson: The story behind the creation of Dungeons & Dragons, the first role-playing game, almost 50 years ago. The book tells the horror story of the company founded by Gary Gygax, how it was mismanaged, and what terrible working environment it was. I’m glad D&D survived to these days, but it is sad to read how it was developed – at least, there are many things to learn from this story.
– Bad Blood by John Carreyrou: Another horror story about a start-up. This is the story of Theranos, the company founded by Elizabeth Holmes. Apart from being an amazing piece of journalism, this book is an example of everything you should not do when managing a company, and a collection of all the worst leadership practices there it could be in a company. I got very addicted to this book, and started watching videos on youtube to read more about this story.
– The Power of Ethics by Susan Liautaud: A collection of stories and points of reflection about ethics in current times, going from scandal of human gene editing by a Chinese scientist to the Boeing 737 Max 8 Jet scandal, and much more. The book proposes a framework to understand the impact of ethical choices and the way information and consequences spread in the community. Susan joined the company BenevolentAI I worked for as a member of the board, which is great news for us.
– Between Ape and Human by Forth Gregory: This is a book by an anthropologist that collected evidences that Homo Floresiensis may actually still be alive, according to tales and legends from people living in the Flores Island. The evidences unfortunately are not very strong, but there it may be some truth in it. This book made me want to leave everything and depart for Flores island 🙂
– Human Kind by Rutger Bregman: I am halfway through this book, but I have already been enjoying it. Essentially it promotes the concept that humans are intrinsically good people. Current society and culture make us think that we are more egoistic and aggressive, but in reality, if you look at case by case, it is not true. Recommended read!