The 5 Books You Absolutely Must Read as an Engineering Manager
In this article, discover five books that are valuable resources to improve as an Engineering Manager.
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Continuous learning is one of the guiding principles that all people should apply in their life. Reading is an excellent tool to learn, and it is a habit that we should all be doing on a regular basis. Since I love reading books about different topics, in this article, I'm going to share five books that have helped me a lot to improve as Engineering Manager.
When we read a book, we should always remember three important things:
- Authors are sharing their knowledge, thoughts, or experiences based on their context or culture. These factors may be different from ours.
- The same book provides different values and learnings to each reader for the same reasons. Each reader has a different context, culture, habits, and previous knowledge.
- Books and methodologies provide guidance that helps us to improve, but they are not our owners. We must take what makes us better, adapt what does not fit, and especially think for ourselves in order to make decisions based on our context.
Now let's go to the books that have helped me to better myself.
Five Books That Have Helped Me Become a Better Manager
The Manager's Path
This is my favorite book about engineering management. In my opinion, it provides a clear vision of the Engineering Manager's roles. In my case, it reinforces some of my ideas and provides valuable information about some aspects that needed to be improved, such as 1-2-1 and performance reviews.
The following topics were addressed:
- 1-2-1 and performance reviews
- Continuous feedback
- How to manage people in different scenarios
- How to manage a team
- Managing managers
If you are or want to be an Engineering Manager, you can't miss this book.
The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement
This is a book written in 1992 that is about the optimization of production in a manufacturing factory. It is a great book that gives us a vision of how to manage and optimize a company based on the theory of constraints and work in progress (WIP).
It is a book written in a novel format that provides you with knowledge through a suspense story. There is another book based on this that is focused on an IT department, The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win.
I like these books because they project a journey in which they describe emerging issues, new challenges, and complex situations closer to the reality of what will be your career as an Engineering Manager.
Team Topologies: Organizing Business and Technology Teams for Fast Flow
It focuses on how to set up a dynamic team structure and interaction modes that can help teams adapt quickly to new conditions and achieve fast and safe software delivery. It provides valuable and clear information for understanding an IT structure and its interaction.
Some of the points he describes you will already know, but it will help you to understand them better:
- Conway's Law with practical examples
- Three different organizational structures in every organization: Formal, informal, and value creation
- Four fundamental team topologies: Stream-aligned, Enabling, Complicated-subsystem, and platform
The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph
It is a book based on stoicism. Engineering Managers usually feel a lot of frustration generated by the management of uncertainty, emerging jobs, and multiple obstacles that appear in their day-to-day work. Sometimes we are more focused on what we cannot control and a misperception of situations.
This book helps us to focus on the things we can control, let go of everything else, and turn every new obstacle into an opportunity, handle defeat and difficulty. We will learn how to deal with obstacles and how to react appropriately so that they do not hold us back.
The Software Architect Elevator: Transforming Enterprises with Technology and Business Architecture
It is a book that I recommend for both architectural and management roles. These two roles have many things in common. This book helps us to understand that a company is like a building with several floors, in which, on each floor, there are people speaking different languages and probably going in different directions.
We will hear how an architect should ride an elevator up and down to talk with people on different floors to align them to go in one direction. Supporting the business strategy, connecting the dots, and avoiding over-engineering.
This ability to communicate at different levels, simplification capacity, and alignment are capabilities that Engineering Managers must also have.
What about technical books?
To support our teams to achieve their objectives, we must have knowledge of different areas and also understand the context of the company. These books provide information on five key aspects: people management, IT structures, company and process optimization, communication at different levels, and how to make a journey full of obstacles.
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