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From Winning with Data to Winning Like Navy Seals: 2017 Must-Reads for Technology Leaders


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Once upon a time, CIOs and IT leaders were rewarded for supporting boring old business functions like accounting. That was before the success of transformative companies like Amazon and Netflix, where technology doesn’t support the business, it is the business. So tech leaders are suddenly recognizing they have a new role—your C-suite partners expect you to create value.

How will you lead—and win—in this new digital era?  It will require finding ways to apply new disruptive technologies, such as mobile apps and mobility, analytics for business intelligence, cloud computing, and social media. But it also means finding new ways to lead. Here are five must-read books to check out as you prepare for your role as an innovator and business-value creator.

1) Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win

In this New York Times #1 bestseller, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin—who served in the most highly decorated special operations unit of the Iraq war—share riveting firsthand accounts of making high-pressure decisions as Navy SEAL battlefield leaders. This book explains the SEAL leadership concepts crucial to accomplishing the most difficult missions in combat and how to apply them to any group, team, or organization. CIOs may find valuable insights to help them build their own winning teams and IT initiatives.

2) Winning with Data: Transform Your Culture, Empower Your People, and Shape the Future

Big data is a big deal, and every CIO can use some tips on leveraging data and business analytics for maximum effect. Authors Tomasz Tunguz and Frank Bien draw on an extensive background in big data, business intelligence, and business strategy to provide a blueprint for companies looking to move head-on into the data wave. Case studies give you an up-close and detailed look at how the leading data-driven companies like Hubspot and Venmo disrupt industries. Get an inside look at the specific strategies, techniques, and thinking behind how they use data to achieve a competitive advantage.

3) Escape Velocity: Free Your Company’s Future From the Pull of the Past

Apple’s former chief evangelist Guy Kawasaki says, “Read this book to learn how to create a company as powerful as Apple.” In Escape Velocity, Geoffrey A. Moore, author of the modern marketing classic Crossing the Chasm, teaches twenty-first century enterprises how to overcome the pull of the past and reorient their organizations to meet a new era of competition. The world’s leading high-tech business strategist connects the dots between bold strategies and effective execution, with an action plan that elucidates the link between senior executives and every other branch of a company.

4) Agile IT Organization Design: For Digital Transformation and Continuous Delivery

Gaining the full benefits of agility in any software organization requires overall agility, not just development team agility.  Author Sriram Narayan draws on 15-plus years working with leaders in telecommunications, finance, energy, retail, and other sectors to introduce an agile approach to “Business-IT Effectiveness.” The author demonstrates how to integrate agility throughout sales, marketing, product development, engineering, and operations, helping each function deliver more value individually and through its linkages with the rest of the business. He also addresses the people, process, and technology, and then tells you how to improve both the dynamic and static aspects of organization design, addressing team structure, accountability structures, organizational norms and culture, metrics, and more.

5) Zone to Win: Organizing to Compete in an Age of Disruption

Another Geoffrey Moore gem, this book focuses on spurring next-generation growth, guiding mergers and acquisitions, and embracing disruption and innovation. Read Zone to Win to learn how to push your organization beyond the envelope—and your competitors. This is the latest in a series of books by Moore about disruptive technology that began with the seminal Crossing the Chasm. This work describes a framework that companies can use to organize to effectively harness the energy of disruptive innovators.

Originally published May 09, 2017, updated Aug 11, 2020

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