Steve Fenton

Recommended Reading

As of July 2020, I have re-aligned my reading list to The Software Punk Revolution. We need a fundamental shift and we need it now. These books contain the seeds that will grow in healthy ways inside your head.

Accelerate: The Science of Lean Software and DevOps

Nicole Forsgren PhD, Jez Humble, and Gene Kim
The amount of research and analysis that has gone into this book is stunning. This is basically a collection of practices that create high performing teams, where each practice has a substantial body of evidence to suggest it really does mean you’re more likely to suceed with your software development. You shouldn’t really be allowed to run a team if you haven’t read it.
Accelerate on Nicole Forsgren’s Website.


Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister
This book sets up Tom and Timothy as software versions of Michel de Nostredame. What they wrote about in this book eventually became hot topics of debate some years later. They cover a broad range of issues that kill programmer productivity and it is still a must read if you have any influence over the conditions your code is created in.
Peopleware on Wordery.

99 Bottles of OOP

Sandi Metz and Katrina Owen
Don’t be put off by the price, this book will level-up your programming skills. Great practical examples of test-first development and refactoring.
99 Bottles of OOP on Sandi Metz’ Website.

Personal Kanban

Tonianne DeMaria Barry and Jim Benson
If you want an effective way of organising your life, which also scales well to teams and organisations; this is the book to read. You can also add other ideas to Personal Kanban, like the concepts from Getting Things Done, and it makes them work even better.
Personal Kanban on Wordery.

Escaping the Build Trap

Melissa Perri
If you are developing a software product, this is the field-guide to avoiding the damaging traps that (in my experience) every product company will encounter at some stage.
Escaping the Build Trap on Wordery.

Toward a Theory of Instruction

Jerome Bruner
This is a book about education, written before we were born, proved time and again in practice, and still largely ignored. Although Bruner isn’t talking about programming, much of the material is directly relevant to software teams.
Toward a Theory of Instruction on Wordery.

Why Plans Fail: Cognitive Bias, Decision Making, and Your Business

Jim Benson
This is the best field-guide to how common thought-traps result in burning projects. This is a quick read, but the imapct is huge.
Why Plans Fail on Wordery.

Thinking, Fast and Slow

Daniel Kahneman
After reading Pragmatic Thinking and Learning, you might want to go back and read the book that is likely to have inspired it. This is the more general picture about how your brain works.
Thinking, Fast and Slow on Wordery.

Code Complete

Steve McConnell
This is a massive volume, but it’s worth the calories. An incredibly well researched piece of writing about almost all aspects of software development with analysis that keeps echoing through the ages. This is a fundamental read.
Code Complete on Wordery.

It Doesn’t Have to be Crazy at Work

Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson
An altogether possible alternate reality where work is calm, satisfying, and makes space for your life.
Peopleware on Wordery.

Extreme Programming Explained: Embracing Change

Kent Beck
This documents a set of values, principles, and practices that form one of the most complete software development methods around. Not only is it complete, it’s pretty simple to understand, though often hard to do. If you haven’t read this, you won’t notice what pieces might be missing in other methods.
Extreme Programming Explained on Wordery.

The Principles of Product Development Flow

Don Reinertsen
Along with Managing the Design Factory, this book is an essential read when you start taking on more responsibility in a software organisation. It will set you up with an economics toolkit that will help you influence better decisions.
The Principles of Product Development Flow on Wordery.

The Mythical Man Month

Frederick P. Brooks Jr
One of the old ones. Ignore or translate the chapter on microfiche and you’ll be left with a series of excellent essays on software development that will remind you that all the big problems were solved in the 1970s.
The Mythical Man Month on Wordery.

Why Limit WIP

Jim Benson
This book supplies all the information you need to inform and influence your execs about the problems of high work-in-process.
Why Limit WIP on Wordery.

Good Strategy, Bad Strategy

Richard Rumelt
I can’t add a great deal more than the title does. This book is essential reading if you are working on a organisation, product, or team strategy.
Good Strategy, Bad Strategy on Wordery.

The Practice of Management

Peter Drucker
There is a chapter in this book on the management of “Professional Employees”. There weren’t too many programmers around when this book was published, but if ever there was a “Professional Employee”, it’s a programmer (at least, it is if they have read the other recommended books).
The Practice of Management on Wordery.

The Human Side of Enterprise

Douglas McGregor
Another old one. What Doug McGregor wrote in the era of cardigan-wearing and pipe-smoking is now all the rage thanks to its rediscovery in books on motivation and productivity.
The Human Side of Enterprise on Wordery.

Waltzing With Bears

Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister
If you are leading a team, you need to understand risk and risk management. Start here!
Waltzing With Bears on Wordery.