#12: War and Peace and IT

In this short episode, I want to introduce a book that I feel that every executive should read.

I started writing about how to get better ROI from Software Development back in 2016.

This was as a direct aim to educate the executive level on how to interact, with better results, with IT - and predominately software development.

Like many, I've felt that the relationship between IT and the Business had become dysfunctional - with neither party happy with what the other brings to the table. Both parties becoming frustrated with the other.

I've spent many years researching, writing and speaking on how to address this dysfunction.

And I really wish I'd had this book.

... To be honest, I wish I'd written this book.

I'm finding it a great companion piece to my own work and recommend it highly to any listener to this podcast.

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Published: Wed, 09 Oct 2019 15:59:53 GMT


While many IT books are aimed at a technical audience,

War and Peace and IT, written by Mark Schwartz, is aimed directly at the non-IT executive - the CEO, CFO, CMO and the board.

His central tenant is very similar to my own work, in that in a digital age, the traditional relationship between the "business" and "technologists" has to change.

It is very much an imperative that traditional, arms length - almost outsourced - relationship is exceptionally damaging to an organisations survivability.

Through the book he looks at many of the problems with the traditional relationship and goes on to explain how to breakdown those barriers and move towards a DevOps environment.

Mark Schwartz has been an IT leader in organisations large and small, public, private and non profit. He relates much of the book back to his own personal experience with real life problems. He is also a frequent speaker on innovation, change leadership, bureaucratic implications of DevOps, and using Agile practices in low-trust environments.

And in his current role as Enterprise Strategist for Amazon Web Services, he uses his extensive experience to advice the worlds largest organisations on cloud adoptions.

This is Mark's third book.

His first "The Art of Business Value" looked at what business value truly is. This was a book aimed at IT leaders who had been tasked with delivering business value - but struggling for a definition of that business value. It encouraged those IT leaders to look beyond the their initial answer and really understand what business value meant to their organisations - sometimes with surprising conclusions.

His second, "A Seat at the Table: IT Leadership in the Age of Agility" encourages the CIO to full embrace their responsibilities and take their rightful seat at the top table. In this book, the predecessor for War and Peace and IT, Mark covers many of the same topics - but written to the CIO.

You could almost consider "A Seat at the Table" and "War and Peace and IT" as the same book - but written for two different audiences.

An Amazon reviews sum the book up nicely:

“I want to lock my executives in a room and make them read this”

And I can but agree with the reviewer.

I would see the book as mandatory reading for any executive.

I would certainly advise any business I go into to invest the time to reading the book before engaging any third party management consultancy.

I personally would recommend the Audible version which is exceptionally well narrated.

Its a very enjoyable listen with a sense of dry humour keeping you engaged.

And with a running at just over 8 hours; it is probably one of best investments of time that an executive today can make.

Trust me, your future self and your organisation will thank you.