Recommended Books

In my posts, I often mention books that have been both good reads and influential on my thinking.   On this page I include a consolidated list with links to Amazon for those who are interested.

Used in NUvention Web

Blank’s book is the classic on customer development.   We use a variation of the Product Hypothesis in appendix “B” as part of our course.   The title and cover are not my favorite, it could use a good editor too; but belie the wisdom between the covers

I had the privilege of working with Karen and Hugh in the early ‘90s when they were consulting for Microsoft.   Introduced to me by some other very talented people at MS, we used contextual design to think about systems management and to create the small business server product.   The workbook version we are using in NUvention web is an accessible, practical guide to getting good information from users and walking a team through the UI and storyboarding process.

Supplemental NUvention Web Materials

Cooper and Vlaskovitis do a great job of putting Blank’s work into practice with more examples and more worksheets.   A great companion to the Four Epiphanies.

The original book on contextual design by Beyer and Holtzblatt.   This book walks through the models and approaches in detail.

Released in summer 2010, Feld and Cohen’s compilation of essays from people involved with TechStar is like a “Hints from Heloise” for people navigating the process of beginning a startup.   Alex White, of Next Big Sound, an NU and TechStars alum, writes several excellent chapters.   Alex introduced me to Customer Development when I was doing my own customer development on how we would teach NUvention Web  He was also was part of our first session teaching students how to pitch.  Being a mentor in TechStars seattle has also been a terrific experience.

Used in my classes on Software Project Management and Development

There is a second edition of this book; but the first I believe is a better, more concise introduction if you can find it.   You can also go through, which covers a lot of the basic practices.

The original book on contextual design by Beyer and Holtzblatt.   This book walks through the models and approaches in detail.

Watts Humphrey was VP of test at IBM in the early days.   He then worked at CMU to establish the Software Engineering Institute.   While TSP is somewhat “waterfall” oriented, there is a lot of good thought and practice in the approach.    His section on how to run an inspection is the best way to run a formal spec or code review and is covered in an appendix I use in my class.   He provides a set of solutions to the key insight that defects get more expensive to fix as the project moves down the cycle.

McConnell provides a great introduction to the software development process.  In some ways this is a “kinder gentler” TSP.  As both my software development course and NUvention have evolved, the piece of McConnell I still use is the description of roles or “hats in development.   He has good overviews of how to think about estimation and a simple introduction to thinking about architecture.

Software Development

Software Development Skill Building – I like to code for fun and learn about the latest practices.  I have liked these on particular skills.

Business, Strategy, and Marketing books

Osterwalder and Pigneur’s book is a beautifully designed synthesis of a number of ideas in breaking down and understanding your business.   It provides a great framework for analysis of existing businesses and for startups as they evolve the process.   It also covers several interesting patterns and examples in putting together your business overall.
Geoffrey Moore’s classic on the dynamics of high tech markets.   How to think about the whole cycle; and the theoretical overview to customer development and lean startup.

Non-Fiction works that have had a big impact on me