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The 14 important books recommended by CIOs for other CIOs

Looking for something to read? Why not pick up a book that will inspire you to become more efficient, help you find problems and pitfalls in your IT strategy and business processes, or prepare for the future of information technology?

We asked CIOs to recommend books that have impacted their careers by helping them become better leaders or solve a specific problem. It may seem like there's no such thing and you shouldn't expect so much from paper and ink (even e-ink!), however, the text still provides great insights. CIOs, CTOs, and CIOs have favorite books that they turn to again and again for inspiration.

So, whether you're going on a long flight or just want to relax and recharge with new ideas, put one of these books on your bedside table or add it to your e-reader.

To understand artificial intelligence

Sherry Comes, former CTO of IBM Watson and managing director of conversational AI at PwC, makes it a must-read "The Age of Invisible Machines: a practical guide to building a hyper-automated ecosystem of intelligent digital workers" by Robb Wilson. This detailed roadmap for understanding the future of digital automation is written by the founder and chief technology officer of and owner of UX Magazine.

"This is a technology book that every business and IT executive should read," says Koms. "With each chapter, I agreed with the author more and more. This book is on my 'must read' list for anyone thinking about technology."

To work well with a team

"CTOs and CIOs who work in organizations that care about adding value will benefit greatly from reading 'Team Topologies: organizing business and technology teams to optimize performance' by Manuel Pais and Matt Skelton," says Peter Kreslins Jr, CTO and co-founder of Digibee.

This step-by-step guide to creating a high-functioning organization will help you understand that there are four types of teams, and there are patterns for interacting with them. "The book reveals the fundamental patterns for achieving smooth operations," Peter emphasizes. "By identifying the types of teams, the principles of how they interact, you learn how to better structure your company. This is a terrific text because it translates the complex theories behind the sociotechnical aspects of software development into a set of easy-to-understand patterns. It also offers a set of simplified steps for getting started."

Novels that entertain and educate

Kreslins Jr. also recommends two books by Tripwire founder and former Tripwire CTO Gene Kim.

"The Unicorn Project. A Novel of Developers, the Digital Revolution, and Thriving in the Data Age" tells the story of Maxine, a senior lead developer struggling to survive in an atmosphere of brutal bureaucracy, overloaded with paperwork and committees.

In the book "Project Phoenix. A Novel of How DevOps Changes Businesses for the Better" IT manager Bill takes on a demanding project that is over budget and behind schedule. The CEO demands that Bill turn the project in within 90 days.

"Both novels are about the modern ways of software development," Kreslins Jr. says. - They address the issues that prevent organizations from creating value and providing a sense of movement toward a goal, giving meaningful action and generating pride in all who work at it. The great thing about both books is that the story is told from the perspective of people who struggle with their day-to-day work as they are hampered by bureaucracy, unnecessary processes, and general team dysfunction. And Project Phoenix, in particular, illuminated for many people DevOps, which later became widespread in many companies."

To learn leadership skills

Nageswaran Vaidyanathan, CTO of Duck Creek Technologies, enjoyed reading "Extreme Accountability: How Navy SEALs Manage and Win" by Joko Willink and Leif Babin. Vaidyanathan believes any IT executive would benefit from reading this book about leadership within the ranks of the U.S. Navy's elite special operations force, SEALs.

In the book, Willink and Babin write about how they were sent to Ramadi, Iraq - at the time a brutal war zone - to secure the city. There they discovered that leadership is the most important element of team success even in the worst of situations. They returned home and founded the SEAL Leadership Training Team.

"The book talks about the competencies and leadership skills needed to take charge of a team and allow each team member to do the same - and be able to make important decisions under pressure," says Vaidyanathan. "I think it's a great source of information on how to develop the right team competencies and individual leadership skills to deal with stressful situations."

To not be afraid of the future

Vaidyanathan also recommends Alec Ross' book Industries of the Future. Ross was a senior innovation advisor to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and traveled the world visiting startup incubators and research labs to keep up with the latest developments. In the book, she talks about robotics, artificial intelligence, cybercrime, genomics, Big Data and more.

"The book looks at various aspects of what will drive global transformation and how this will lead to progress or failure," comments Vaidyanathan. "Ross also looks at how the global economic future will take shape and the trends that will shape the way we live."

To solve the technological challenges

Andrey Ivashin, CIO of Dyninno, recommends three books that "find answers and provide valuable advice in areas of business where leaders often face challenges," he emphasizes. "Each of them has helped me at different stages of my professional life."

The first book is "Purpose. The Process of Continuous Improvement" by Eliyahu Goldratt, a treatise on modern economic theory framed as a novel.

"It's a well-known book and a classic of business literature," Ivashin says. "And because it is written as a novel, it is accessible and engaging. It offers useful techniques and solutions to solve typical corporate problems such as bottlenecks, inefficiency and poor communication. The lessons you learn from the book's characters can be applied to any business, and they emphasize the need for continuous improvement of business processes to remain successful and competitive."

To create a culture

Ivashin also recommends Ben Horowitz's book "We Are What We Do. How to Build Culture in a Company" as it "shows the importance of corporate culture and the role of leadership.

Horowitz is a venture capitalist and management expert who uses history and current organizational practices to offer advice on building culture. "He offers useful advice and examples of what works and what doesn't in terms of creating a strong corporate culture," Ivashin says. "I think more importantly, throughout the book, the author explores how leaders can foster a healthy work environment and inspire people to perform at their highest level."

To understand how to motivate people

Ivashin also believes that IT executives will enjoy Daniel Pink's book Drive: What Really Motivates Us. Pink is the author of seven New York Times bestsellers on work, creativity and behavior, and his books have sold millions of copies worldwide.

"This book explores what really motivates people based on scientific research in psychology, economics, and neurobiology," Ivashin says. "Pink points out that traditional methods of motivation, such as rewards and punishment, are less effective than we think and may even be counterproductive. This shows that the three key factors in motivation are autonomy, mastery, and purpose."

To find out what drives trust

Rick Johnson, Chief Digital Officer at Marvin, recommends Dunlop's The Four Factors of Trust: How Organizations Can Earn Lifetime Loyalty by Ashley Reichheld. This book teaches how to measure, predict, and build trust.

"We need to understand the factors that influence customer and employee trust, as this is increasingly becoming a litmus test," Johnson says. "These are the drivers we need to focus on and reinforce - the experiences that are shaped and realized through technology. The company has to trust the head of IT. There has to be confidence that we are making the right technology decisions, developing and deploying technology that will work and deliver value, and trust that we are doing what we promise we will do. It is critical that technology leaders be sincere, honest, candid and transparent - in an effort to earn trust."

To learn from historical figures

Bill Bragg, SymphonyAI's IT Director, recommends Inspirational Leadership: learning from great leaders by John Adair, which outlines lessons learned from history by great leaders - Alexander the Great, Attila, Churchill, de Gaulle, Einstein, Gandhi, Sir Edmund Hillary, Ho Chi Minh, Xun Tzu, JFK, Lao Tzu and others - so that today's leaders can learn from them.

"It gave me an understanding of the human psyche that we should consider and value when deciding what to spend our time on," Bragg says.

To inspire bold action

Bragg also enjoyed the book "Make/Destroy: Change the Status Quo or Become It" by Mark Shayler. This book offers advice and quotes from famous innovators, on the subject of how to act strategically and boldly, taking your own path to realize your ideas. "It's a curious guide to action," he says. "It's suitable for anyone looking for a bold new path."

To get instruction on the path to success

Barr Moses, CEO and co-founder of Monte Carlo, recommends "Amplify! Super Growth Leadership by Raising Expectations, Increasing Urgency, and Raising Intensity" by Frank Slotman.

"Frank Slotman, serial entrepreneur and CEO of Snowflake, shares his guide to building a successful company," says Moses, who led Snowflake to its largest IPO. In his first book, he doesn't shy away from the importance of speed and focus when leading a fast-growing organization, and the importance of setting the bar high for the rest of your team. As the co-founder and CEO of my own IT company, I found Slotman's tactical advice and insightful perspective on what it takes to achieve unprecedented scale to become a gold mine to be absolutely spot on. I would reread the book again."

To understand the principles of lean software and DevOps

Rajesh Jethwa, CTO of Digiterre, suggests reading "Accelerate! The Science of DevOps : How to Build and Scale High-Performance Digital Organizations" by Nicole Forsgren, Gene Kim, and Jez Humble.

This book explores the ways in which technology can add value to the business. "Drawing on research," says Jethwa, "the book provides practical advice on how to improve IT capabilities and foster a culture of continuous improvement to build effective teams."

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