Just Gift It

I like to gift books.

A former boss gifted me a book once, and I immediately realized the value of not only that particular gift (it was a good read) but also the act itself.

Books provide incredible value to the reader, and when working in teams, a book that opened an idea up to you, given at the right time can help others understand your positioning and approach to challenges, bringing a certain level of group understanding, if not always agreement ;)

While I have really enjoyed a few books over the last 12 - 18 months, many of the books I gift the most are a bit older. These are the ones I have gifted the most this year:

1. Hit Refresh

Hit Refresh: The Quest to Rediscover Microsoft’s Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone - Satya Nadella

As a longtime member of the Microsoft ecosystem I have watched Microsoft evolve from an early age, I got my first MCSE at 14 and have been playing in that field for most of my life, Microsoft over the last few years has made incredible strides and won back a lot of love and support. Satya explains how a lot of that came about, and underpins the critical role corporate culture plays in adjusting the course of a corporate giant

I’ve gifted this one 12 times already and it’s not even Christmas yet! :)

2. The Phoenix Project

The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win - Gene Kim/Kevin Behr/George Spafford

This book really helped me visualize a lot of the organizational challenges we face today and an idealized approach that can be taken to overcome them. The book is written as a novel, unlike the typical business book, and the style works very well for the content.

As a consultant it’s always interesting to me to try and apply approaches that form from specific business areas and apply them to my own world.

DevOps is one of those areas that you don’t think you would apply much leading a professional services group, other than perhaps as a consultative type service you can help deliver, but internally we now utilize technology such as CI/CD for internal documentation generation and engineering/delivery tooling, we use VSTS for product backlog management and certain agile/scrum practices to drive our internal innovation. I’m likely to face the challenge that we still don’t -do- DevOps from many, and I’m mostly in agreement, we still dont -do- DevOps in the true sense of the word, but we certainly take some of the principles to heart, which have allowed us to massively increase our operational maturity and deliver value faster. Thats kind of the point right?

This is the book that got me started on that journey.

I’ve gifted this one 8 times this year

3. Scrum: The Art of doing Twice the Work in Half the Time

Scrum: The Art of doing Twice the Work in Half the Time - Jeff Sutherland/JJ Sutherland

I picked up the audiobook of this during one of my frequent ‘oh darn i’m capped on audible credits’ buying sprees, and first listened to it during a long drive back from Spokane to Boise a few years back

I really enjoyed how the book flowed from story to story, building your understanding of not just Scrum principles, but how they were applied to various business and project challenges to effect change. Once again most of those challenges were not the same ones I face with a professional services group, and most of our delivery projects are delivered in good old fashioned waterfall style due to the nature of our engagement structure. That hasn’t stopped us using a lot of the principles internally in our group, along with some other DevOps practices to increase our internal product accuracy and cadence (and decrease our failure rate).

I tend to gift this one to team members so they don’t stare at me blankly the first time they hear me talk about all our internal initiatives and how we run them :)

I’ve gifted this 5 times this year

4. The Four Hour Chef

The Four Hour Chef - Timothy Ferris

I’ve been a big Tim Ferris fan for years, he has a very interesting approach to life, and his books all make for good reads, even if you don’t end up taking them to heart.

The Four Hour Chef, at first glance, seems like a cook book, and it kind of is, but that’s not the lesson the book teaches. The Four Hour Chef is a book about learning to learn, about how to break down something complex and daunting (to Tim, this was Cooking) and learn it, balls-to-the-wall learn it. I’m a life long learner, I am ALWAYS learning something new, sometimes I’m killing myself trying to learn three or four somethings new (because so many thingz!), and I love other life long learners, which I feel this book can help to create more of.

This book helps people better grasp an approach to learning difficult things, and Tim uses a lot of his own life examples throughout, as we follow his journey learning to cook.

I’ve gifted this book 2 times this year

Honorary Mention - 5. PowerShell in a Month of Lunches

PowerShell in a Month of Lunches - Don Jones/Jeffrey Hicks

Technically I have never actually gifted this one, which is probably a horrible thing to admit given how pro powershell I am, and how obvious it now may be that I love to give books away! I don’t often give technical books, they are very tactical in nature and address a certain problem that the receiver may not even have, or want to address in this manner, I prefer conceptual, strategic level books for gifts, thats why business and learning books tend to own this list

That said, I recommend this book a few times a month. I recommend it to customers, I recommend it to team members who want to learn more PowerShell, I recommend to my friends who want to do more with their computers, I recommend it to folks new to the industry to get a better jump start on the road ahead

It’s a great book for these folks, assuming they want to put in the time to learn PowerShell, its the book you wish was in every hotel bedside table so you could better deal with those problems you face when on an engagement by your self, it’s the gold standard in getting started with PowerShell, and if you want to do that, specifically, then you should buy this book. Or maybe I should gift you this book.

I’ve gifted this book 0 times this year


There are many more books I have enjoyed reading and just not gifted many of yet, I’m sure I will pencil in some time to write more about the ones that specifically help me drive increased operational maturity, here on this blog.

Have a great holiday season, and gift more books.