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A Seat at the Table

book cover image and link to amazon

This book blew me away. Mark Schwartz has quickly become one of my favorite authors on work and IT topics, and this is hands-down his best yet. Mark is a leader with serious technical chops, and this book is so good I listened to it cover-to-cover, then immediately hit play again.

This book digs deep. At its heart, it explores how we ended up in this bizarre situation: IT used to be a department full of tech-loving geeks, eager to build cool stuff. Somehow, it's morphed into an organization that's constantly slamming the brakes on innovation and begging the business for resources.

Chairs around a table

Here are just a few of the killer points:

  • Build vs. Buy: Mark makes a compelling case for why we should build our own software instead of constantly buying tools. I'm with him on this one (hello, Software Factory!), but he explains it in a way that'll make even the most die-hard off-the-shelf fanatic want to start coding something from scratch.
  • Death to Requirements: He lays out why we need to ditch the word "requirements." Our business is always harping about them... requirements from the business, requirements for IT, the whole nine yards. But these things aren't really mandatory, so let's stop using a word that implies they are! (Use cases are another one to ditch...)
  • The Business is NOT Our Customer: We're coworkers, not competing businesses, and we need to stop treating each other like we're on opposite sides of a contract. While we're at it, let's stop treating our vendors that way, too.

This book's got WAY more than what I mentioned. Honestly, I doubt another book will knock this one from my top spot anytime soon. I can't recommend it highly enough.

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