Archive for August, 2007|Monthly archive page

Book Review: The 10-Day MBA

An MBA? What’s that got to with developing software? Bear with me…

I’ve just finished reading The 10-Day MBA and I have to confess I quite enjoyed it. The book’s strength is that it covers a large number of business topics in very little detail. That suited me down to the ground because, whilst I was interested to find out a little about accounting, I have no desire to spend hours learning about the intricate details.

Weighing in at just over 400 pages the book contains a lot of material but it is all clearly presented and, because the topics change so rapidly, it is hard to lose interest. Steven Silbiger’s writing style also worked well for me (although it may not be everyone’s cup of tea!).

If I had to level a criticism at this book it would be aimed at the title which implies that reading it could be a substitute for an MBA. To his credit the author does not actually make this claim. He simply points out that you will get a significant amount of the knowledge taught during a typical MBA course for a much lower investment (£12.99 + 10 days reading).

Is this book useful for those leading software development? If you have a limited knowledge of the areas it covers (marketing, ethics, accounting, organisational behaviours, quantitative analysis, finance, operations, economics and strategy) then I would whole heartedly recommend it. Why? Because software development does not exist as an island. Commercial software development must deliver benefits within a business context. Limited understanding of this context limits the benefits you can provide.

Another reason for software development managers to widen their knowledge of business in general is because IT and business are no longer being seen as separate entities. At a risk of sounding a bit Zen: IT is not part of business, IT is business. Martin Atherton, in his comment about Boots and House of Fraser not renewing IT director posts, talks about IT becoming an “integral function of business”. If he’s right then it will only become more important for IT professionals everywhere to hone their business acumen.

If you are interested in the management and leadership of software projects you may find some of my other posts interesting:

Good Cop / Bad Cop Supplier Management

We’ve all seen the movies:

Bad Cop: Look, we know you did it you filthy piece of poop, if you don’t tell us where the body is I’m going nail your dangly bits to this table!

Good Cop: Look, we want to help you. We want to get this over with as much as you. Just tell us where the body is and I’ll make you a nice cup of tea.

The old good cop / bad cop routine is one of the oldest tricks in the book but can it be used for managing suppliers? Continue reading