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Radical Candor
 272 Seiten

I have to stay, I initially got off on the wrong foot with this book. The subtitle reads "How to get what you want by saying what you mean", but in my mind "getting what you want" isn't at all what this book is about.

Also, after the first 1-2 chapters, I thought I had in my hands what is so common for many business books: One core idea (here: "care personally, challenge directly") being re-iterated over the course of an entire book.

But then, Kim Scott caught my attention. More and more anecdotes resonated with me, and I realized she lays out a full management philosophy, in addition to actionable things to try. In particular the second half of the book ("Tools & Techniques") helped me understand how to apply her ideas.

Some things I learned:

  • Ruinous empathy: Presented as a common attitude of (new) managers, I can relate: You don't want to hurt the other person, so you avoid giving criticism altogether. Turns out: This doesn't help anyone and you are failing on a core responsibility: Giving meaningful guidance to people who want to improve.
  • Career Conversations: Life story; dreams; 18-months plan. A structure on how to have guiding conversations with the people on your team. Help understand values and put the current position of the person in perspective to their larger career and life vision.
  • Separate debate meetings from decision meetings, or at least be explicit about it. In addition, I think you could further separate the ideation phase, so that ideas aren't shot down early by (well intended) debates.

I can't and won't apply everything that's in this book. Some aspects simply don't apply. "Firing people" as described in the book just isn't legal in Germany. Other things are in fact already implemented in one way or another in the agile practices we try to live in my current team. But some concepts, while not being completely "new" perhaps, are now a lot clearer to me because Kimm Scott has given me the vocabulary to talk and think about.

↑ 2020
2019 ↓
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
 296 Seiten

Cal Newport defines deep work as the activities performed in distraction-free environments and argues that this is what's necessary to really make use of your full intellectual capacity.

The table of contents pretty much sums up the essence of Newport's line of argument: Deep work is valuable, but it's rare. And then he goes on to lay down some rules, some of which include quitting social media, structuring your day better and saying "no" to things than do not significantly help towards reaching your professional goals.

My favorite piece of advice was his suggestion on how to schedule your day: "Give every minute a job". Being an avid budgeter of money, I've always been looking for good advice on how to budget time. What he suggests is pretty simple, and won't surprise anyone, but I'll give it a go.

Overall, I think the book was good. He argued both with individual stories but also by citing relevant studies. I think Digital Minimalism was argued even clearer, but Deep Work was still a good read.

Fooled by Randomness
 368 Seiten

A book that, put simply, describes in many ways how randomness plays a large role in the world around us, even though it might often look like skill (no, it was luck) or determination (no, it was luck) or causality (no, randomness).

Pro:

It made me think about concepts that sounded trivial at first, but when connected to something I know, I had some revelations.

Taleb connects a lot of different disciplines (philosophy, mathematics, economics and, I guess, some more).

In many places, I really like his writing and way of expressing things.

Con:

This was written as a stream of thoughts (Taleb views himself as an essayist). What might be meant to appear deep and clever was just lacking structure and clarity in places.

I am sometimes bugged by the extreme examples he chooses, where a trader loses everything not only because randomness hits, but because in their private life they have also invested everything in high-risk products. Reality is more nuanced than that, but I guess it's enough to make his point.

Often 'his point' simply appears to be to rant about all traders (except himself) or all holders of an MBA (except for himself) or all people who have succeeded by chance (except, maybe, for himself?). Taleb tries really hard to sound like someone you wouldn't want to be around for too long. Not sure if that's actually true, or just a character he plays.

To finish positively, however, I like many of his conclusions. We might not be able to control and even understand randomness around us, but we are able to control our attitude, and just make the best out of every situation.

Deal!: Du gibst mir, was ich will
 272 Seiten

Puh, schlimmer Titel und plakatives Cover. Aber ich wollte generell mal was zu Verhandlungstechniken lesen und da drückte mir jemand das Buch hier in die Hand. Why not.

Für die erste Beschäftigung mit dem Thema für mich dann doch überraschend gut. Stellenweise ist es so plakativ geschrieben, wie der Titel suggeriert, aber es insgesamt ist es doch ein breiter Überblick über das Thema.

Der Autor hat das richtig klar aufgeteilt. Welche Bedeutung hat "Macht" in einer Verhandlung. Wie funktioniert Kommunikation wenn man ein Ziel verfolgt. Wie verhandelt man miteinander statt gegeneinander. Welche konkreten Techniken gibt es, wie kann man sie selbst anwenden oder auch beim Gegenüber wahrnehmen und reagieren.

Joar. Als Einstieg war es gut und flott zu lesen. Wirklich besser wird man in dem Bereich vermutlich nur durch konkretes Üben und Trainieren. Aber war schon mal interessant. Wenn auch, naja, manchmal irgendwie etwas simpel geschrieben.

↑ 2019
2018 ↓
Creative Selection
 304 Seiten

The story of a former Apple engineer who was part of the team working on the software for the original iPhone -- hence "the golden age of Steve Jobs" as the subtitle of this book (sounds like he's only ever met Jobs 2 or 3 times though).

Interesting details in parts. A little surprising but also calming to read that some/most of hist struggles during work seem familiar from a daily coding experience.

In the book, he tries to sum up the core of what he thinks makes the creative process at Apple be what it is. Interesting to read in parts, but he clearly "only" had the inside view from one engineering team. The overarching meta view including management, marketing, etc is lacking. Still, some insightful anecdotes even though the process he distills in the end isn't completely convincing to me.

One thing that bugs me is the continuous stressing of how much Apple makes decisions driven by "Taste", rather than data-driven (he's throwing out punches at Google all the time). Right in the next paragraph, he tells the story of how ingeniously clever they derived the "perfect" size of an icon on the home screen. Surprise: They do it data-driven by running experiments with a simple app. Inconsistencies like this make the whole argument stumble here and there. Still, an interesting and quick read.