Business books that are also enjoyable

A friend is transitioning from service industry to project management. She's looking to get into tech, and even through she's very tech-minded, she feels insecure about her lack of experience in the business. I offered to put together a list of books that would be valuable in introducing common business situations and concepts. The only criteria is that I find the books readable, or even enjoyable.

  1. The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement
    Eliyahu M. Goldratt
    The classic pulpy novel about a manufacturing plant in crisis that introduces the "Theory Of Constraints" is also a great introduction to business in general, with a plethora of principles, stereotypes, and insights still relevant today.
  2. The Phoenix Project: A Novel about IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win
    Gene Kim
    The same winning formula as "The Goal", but completely modernized for an organization headed towards a digital transformation; Introduction to DevOps and agile principles in action.
  3. The Unicorn Project: A Novel about Developers, Digital Disruption, and Thriving in the Age of Data
    Gene Kim
    A follow-up to the Phoenix Project with emphasis on Developers and the role of Developer Experience in organizations achieving product success.
  4. Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs
    John Doerr
    How to choose measurable objectives that drive behaviour and result in outcomes; How this system scales across an organization to ensure all teams are are working towards the same goal.
  5. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
    Daniel H. Pink
    How to attract and motivate knowledge workers though Purpose, Mastery and Autonomy.
  6. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable
    Patrick Lencioni
    People issues are messy; what to look for and what can be done.
  7. Good To Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't.
    Jim Collins
    Where to focus, where to invest, and what to avoid; The importance of disciplined thought and behaviour.
  8. Team Topologies: Organizing Business and Technology Teams for Fast Flow
    Matthew Skelton, Manuel Pais
    What sociology and science tells us are the most important factors for high-functioning teams in areas of high complexity; How to organize teams to achieve goals while adapting to changing conditions; If architecture of the system and architecture of the organization are at odds, the architecture of the organization wins;
  9. Sooner Safer Happier: Antipatterns and Patterns for Business Agility
    Jonathan Smart
    Flow efficiency, Lead time and Throughput; Identifying types of work with Cynefin framework; Leveraging Lean and Agile when it makes sense.
  10. Sense & Respond: How Successful Organizations Listen to Customers and Create New Products Continuously.
    Jeff Gothelf & Josh Seiden
    Introduction to concepts of Lean, Agile, and a Test-And-Learn approach; How a Sense & Respond model can be used throughout an organization.

Notable Mentions

  1. Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams
    DeMarco Tom
    Another classic book that by today's standards might appear a little less relevant than it did when it was published. Many scenarios may not appear directly applicable to modern situations. But I still love this book. The principles still stand today, and I enjoy it from the historical perspective, too.