Our annual compilation of books recommended for IT executives by readers of The Heller Report.

Happy New Year! (for the last time, we promise).

Every year since 2012, we have published a recommended reading list for CIOs and other IT professionals. But this is not your average, everyday book list. Every title below has been recommended by an IT professional in our Heller Report reader community.

As in past years, your recommendations were not limited to technology and business. There are books on conflict resolution, psychology and military history; but what each volume has in common is that it taught these readers something about how to be a better technology executive.

Thank you for your recommendations! If your submission doesn't appear below, the title appeared in a list from previous years. (2016 list)


(Listed alphabetically by author's last name)

The Anatomy of Peace.jpg
The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict

By The Arbinger Institute

Recommended by Mark Wiseley
“This is a great book to give people insight on how changing yourself helps to change others and is great for organizational change.”




The Adventures of an IT Leader

By Robert D. Austin, Shannon O'Donnell, and Richard L. Nolan

Recommended by Anonymous
“Real world examples of how to establish an IT culture. Very quick read!”



The Road to Character.jpgThe Road to Character

By David Brooks

Recommended by Mark Las
“This book provides an interesting perspective on character by focusing on the lives of famous people.  It provides a perspective balanced across their personal and professional lives, allowing us to learn how to focus on things that truly matter beyond the superficial measures of success such as title, salary, etc.”



CIO 100: The First 100 Days as CIO

By Gary Buck

Recommended by Allan Sommer
“The stories are relevant, spot on and honest.”



The Candy Bombers: The Untold Story of the Berlin Airlift and America's Finest HourThe Candy Bombers.jpg

By Andrei Cherny

Recommended by Chris Van Liew
“Current wisdom that informs should be compared against historical demonstrations of excellent leadership that inspire. This book showcases leadership at its finest by our country, our military, and countless individuals who demonstrated their leadership against the backdrop of one of the most complicated and challenging issues to ever face our nation at the close of WWII.” 


Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

By Robert B. Cialdini

Recommended by Saeed Elnaj
“It is an easy and a funny book to read, yet it is scientific and based on 35 years of evidence-based research in psychology. Cialdini identifies 7 principles or techniques that end up persuading us to comply and commit to a certain behavior. The book is very useful in understanding the techniques that others might use on us to have us comply with their requests. In addition, to successfully do our jobs as CIOs, we often need to persuade others and I found the book to be very helpful in becoming a skilled persuader.”


Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future

By Dorie Clark

Recommended by Bev Lieberman
"A very well written book on how to develop your personal brand."


The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World

By Dalai Lama, Bishop Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Carlton Abrams

Recommended by Suresh Rangarajan
“Deep perspectives on how to live in a state of joy. Great read for developing empathy and leading in a compassionate manner.”


Effective Threat Intelligence by Jame DietleEffective Threat Intelligence: Building and Running an Intel Team for Your Organization

By James Dietle

Recommended by James Dietle
“CISOs and CIOs are bombarded by "Threat Intelligence" products and discussions. I wrote this book as an extremely quick read to explain how to build a program and why it is important. I have had lots of good feedback from both the government  and private sectors in executive positions.”



Illuminate: Ignite Change Through Speeches, Stories, Ceremonies, and Symbols

By Nancy Duarte and Patti Sanchez

Recommended by Eduard de Vries
“How to accelerate change through the use of stories. Great examples of how change occurs, and how you can drive this using stories supported by various ‘tools.’” 


Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

By Angela Duckworth

Recommended by Gary Hoke
“In business, building a team that can achieve extraordinary results depends greatly on both the aptitude and attitude of its team members.  This book can help IT leaders identify and cultivate grit within their teams in order to overcome challenges and deliver significant results for their organizations.”


Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

By Carol S. Dweck

Recommended by Viren Shah
“Helps provide a perspective that our mindset is a key attribute to our success. Satya Nadella of Microsoft shared this book in his write up of turning around Microsoft.”


Tools of Titans by Tim FerrissTools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers

By Timothy Ferriss

Recommended by Brook Colangelo
“Tim has interviewed 200 world class performers and synthesized their tools and tactics for readers.  It’s a great read that outlines the best habits and practices of the most successful leaders in the world.”


Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work

By Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Recommended by Joe Spagnoletti
“Insightful and immediately impactful to your personal and professional lives.  Most books make their point in the first 25 pages and the rest is fluff. This entire book is compelling and substantive. I dare to say it's exciting to read, and try its advice!”


Be_the_Business_book_Cover_full_125.jpgBe the Business: CIOs in the New Era of IT

By Martha Heller

Recommended by Linda Jojo
"Once again, Martha has captured the complexity and nuance of the role of the modern day CIO, and woven it into an engaging, actionable resource for IT professionals."

Recommended by Geoffrey Moore
"In the new digital landscape, IT is no longer a support function about the business; it is a fundamental building block of the business. This requires CIOs and their colleagues to reconstruct the IT function top to bottom, and Be the Business provides a wealth of good ideas for how to do so."

Recommended by Sky Sharma
“Martha offers a full spectrum of insight across different verticals.  Her pragmatic approach to providing thought leadership on all things "CIO" is backed by industry professionals and leaders of significant gravity.  It is has become a ‘go-to’ reference for me for value-driven business practices.”


The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers

By Ben Horowitz

Recommended by Carl Stumpf
“A great book about leadership with lessons learned through tough business situations.”

Recommended by Houssem Ben Zahra


Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose

By Tony Hsieh

Recommended by Gabor Blasko
“A great book about an investor/CEO who – having learned from past mistakes –  decides to build a new company based on new cultural foundations to assure that the company is healthy and the employees are happy. Also great insight into how to take major risks.”


Exponential Organizations: Why New Organizations Are Ten Times Better, Faster, and Cheaper Than Yours (and What To Do About It)

By Salim Ismail, Michael S. Malone and Yuri van Geest

Recommended by Frank Kovacs
“This is the first book out of Singularity University. This book explains how technology is reinventing the way we do business.”


Disrupt Yourself: Putting the Power of Disruptive Innovation to WorkDisrupt Yourself by Whitney Johnson

By Whitney L. Johnson

Recommended by Frank Kovacs
“It is important, as the market is changing significantly, that we each take stock of our competencies, interests, and passions and perhaps course correct in this new environment that we all find ourselves.”




Uplifting Service: The Proven Path to Delighting Your Customers, Colleagues, and Everyone Else You Meet

By Ron Kaufman

Recommended by Chris Van Liew
“I find it helpful to read materials beyond the generic ‘leadership’ level, but that dig deeper into key attributes of successful organizations. Recently I've been reading quite a bit on the subject of customer service, and I found this book to be insightful, clear, and practical. A close second in this category would be Service Failure: The Real Reasons Employees Struggle With Customer Service and What You Can Do About, by Jeff Toister.”


Shoe Dog by Phil Knight NikeShoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike

By Phil Knight

Recommended by Mick Whittemore
“It's not IT specific, but what I found wonderful about it are the lessons about what it really takes to get something big done: faith, determination, guts, hard work, teamwork, and loving what you do.”



The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable

By Patrick Lencioni

Recommended by Gabor Blasko
“A great book about change management and how to rebuild a company's culture with new foundations. The teachings are simple: Recruit people who can trust each others’ competencies, let them all have their voices heard, then have them commit so that they will be OK being held accountable. In my experience, my companies are missing these very basic foundations to have a working and sustainable company culture.”


Digital Vortex: How Today's Market Leaders Can Beat Disruptive Competitors at Their Own Game

By Jeff Loucks, James Macauly, Andy Noronha, and Michael Wade

Recommended by Danny Sheaffer
“Interesting research on the market dynamics of the disruption occurring in multiple industries along with examples of companies successfully addressing the challenges.”


Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble

By Dan Lyons

Recommended by Michael Kohlman
“Hands-down one of the most interesting (and based on my own experiences, quite accurate) books about the world of technology start-ups, as well as the good-bad-ugly of tech culture in general.”


The Innovative CIO.jpgThe Innovative CIO: How IT Leaders Can Drive Business Transformation

By Andi Mann, George Watt, and Peter Matthews

Recommended by Anonymous 
Full of interesting and actionable advice for IT leaders looking to drive digital innovation and transformation. Written specifically to help Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and other IT execs to lead not just tech but overall innovation in their organizations, and to meet the challenges of digital transformation head-on. It provides valuable tips for identifying innovation sources and fostering an innovative spirit within the organization, as well as practical tools for evaluating, tracking and selling the value of innovation to the business. Backed by compelling stories and examples, it will help IT leaders as they plan to drive business value through innovative uses for new technologies.” 


Shackleton's Way: Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer

By Margot Morrell and Stephanie Capparell

Recommended by Rick Omartian
“While you may not want to include this one because it was written a while ago (2001), this book provides lessons in leadership that are valid forever and combines them with a story that is both unbelievable and unforgettable. While no journey can compare to Shackleton's, for some CIOs, their experience may feel like it.”


Agile IT Organization Design: For Digital Transformation and Continuous Delivery

By Sriram Narayan

Recommended by Idil Karacan
“Briefly explains continuous delivery and digital transformation. Easy to read.” 


Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets are Transforming the Economy - and How to Make Them Work for You

By Geoffrey G. Parker, Marshall W. Van Alstyne, and Sangeet Paul Choudary

Recommended by German Valencia
“Contrast of demand/technology-enabled vs. tradional supply-based business models.  Key enabler of new models is the digital platform. Book is from mid-2016 but it is a great reference for digital transformations.”

Recommended by Tom Irvine
“Excellent introduction to the platform economy. Even if your business is not yet being transformed by platforms it will probably come soon. Read this book to keep up!”

Recommended by Stephen Fraser
“Demonstrate business leadership and explore revenue growth opportunities for your company using technology enabled business models that have worked for Uber, AirBnB, Apple, Facebook, etc. The cover sums it up: ‘How Networked Markets are Transforming the Economy and How to Make Them Work for You’!” 

Recommended by Jerry Wolfe
“Platform thinking is an essential element of successful navigation of digital disruption spreading across most industries.  It is invaluable for the CIO to understand the opportunity to externalize the company as revenue building digital services.  Seeing IT investment through a platform lens greatly enhances the role of the CIO as strategist and positions IT as growth engine for the evolving operating model.  This book does an excellent job of explaining platform strategy and the linkage to enhanced competitive positioning, while clearly illustrating the central role of IT.” 


The End of Jobs: Money, Meaning and Freedom Without the 9-to-5

By Taylor Pearson

Recommended by Frank Kovacs
“Author does an outstanding effort of analyzing the job market and predicting the rise of contingent work and Labor Clouds. It is essential to understand how the labor pool you will be managing and be part of will be changing.” 


To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving OthersTo Sell Is Human by Daniel Pink

By Daniel H. Pink

Recommended by Steve Brothers
“In short: Understanding the core of what goes into building relationships for purposes of influencing, are skills that are often left out in the career development of IT folks. This helps to fill that gap.” 




Stealing the Corner Office: The Winning Career Strategies They'll Never Teach You in Business School

By Brendan Reid

Recommended by Anonymous
“It explains the reality of how to be successful in a corporation, which in itself is a skill-set we all haven't been taught.” 



The Levers of Embedded IT

By Gerry Robinson

Recommended by Joe Topinka
“Gerry Robinson's book offers programmatic insights into how IT can make a real difference in companies. He also shows readers how IT leaders can take charge and define their successes.”

Recommended by Anonymous
“From my position as an IT leader who works with multiple industries, this book was good in that it gave me industry diverse perspectives all in one compilation.” 

Recommended by Anonymous
“As a leader in Healthcare, I enjoyed seeing the BRM models that were illustrated. Healthcare was the most frequent industry interviewed in the book.”

Recommended by Anonymous
“Almost like a reference book. Picked the interviews that most suited my industry. As a telecom executive, this was great to understand IT and optimal ways to work together.”

Recommended by Anonymous
“As a software vendor who interfaces with many CIOs, I thought this book provided many insights. In fact, one CIO featured in it is my customer. The points seemed to resonate with the leaders I spoke with.”  


The Industries of the Future

By Alec Ross

Recommended by Gary Hoke
“This books provides IT leaders, business executives, and entrepreneurs with a glimpse of the emerging technologies that will revolutionize the world in the next several decades. Having an awareness of these insights will allow readers to envision the possibilities and begin to develop ideas for how these changes will impact their job, company, communities, and lives.” 


Good Strategy Bad Strategy by Richard RumeltGood Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters

By Richard Rumelt

Recommended by Stuart McGuigan
“In my experience, ‘strategy’ is one of the fuzziest concepts in business. Many companies mistake objectives and goals for strategy with predictably bad results. The author presents a very clear definition, and numerous examples of good and bad strategies in the past. Should be required reading for anyone who wants to use the word.”  



Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World

By Bruce Schneier

Recommended by Lindsey Jarrell
“Excellent overview of data use in the US. The second part has strong policy recommendations. An interesting and useful read.” 


Truth from the Trenches by Mark SettleTruth from the Trenches: A Practical Guide to the Art of It Management

By Mark Settle

Recommended by Anonymous
“Because it's the second best IT book of the year after Be the Business! More seriously, because it provides insight into how to avoid many of the chronic pitfalls that undermine the efficiency and effectiveness of IT organizations. The best practices recommended in this book will allow aspiring IT leaders to focus on the things that really drive organizational performance irrespective of their company's size or industry, and irrespective of the technology challenges they currently face. This is a 'nuts and bolts' guide to running an IT shop efficiently and earning a seat at the strategy table.” 


Joy, Inc.: How We Built a Workplace People Love

By Richard Sheridan

Recommended by Sulabh Srivastava
“Describes a story of how you build a culture that employees love. Book is thought-provoking and has a lot of great ideas that an IT leader can apply in their own organizations.” 


The Digital Revolution: How Connected Digital Innovations Are Transforming Your Industry, Company & Career

By Inder Sidhu

Recommended by Danny Sheaffer
“Good examples of how digital transformation is occurring in various industries along with guidelines about how an organization can create their own digital strategy.” 


Overcoming Fake Talk: How to Hold REAL Conversations that Create Respect, Build Relationships, and Get Results

By John R. Stoker

Recommended by Anonymous
“Helps bring CIOs back down to reality when speaking with their colleagues and staff. Too often CIOs get into speaking in generalities with big sweeping strategy statements, and less enlightened staff members struggle to keep up with them.”


Cybersecurity for Executives: A Practical GuideCybersecurity for Executives by Gregory and Joseph Touhill

By Gregory J. Touhill and C. Joseph Touhill

Recommended by Dwight Taylor
“This book gives great insight on cybersecurity and risk management from an executive leader's viewpoint.”




The Dictionary of Dangerous Ideas

By Mike Walsh

Recommended by Scott McGillivray
“I gave a copy of this book to every member of my company's executive team. It's deceptively simple, especially for those of us who are already thinking about these things. But the concepts and changes described in the book are actively altering the business world, and many execs have no idea that they exist.”


Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World

By Margaret J. Wheatley

Recommended by Frederick Scholl
“Out of the box thinking on leadership and organizations. ‘Power in organizations is the capacity generated by relationships.’” 


Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win

By Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

Recommended by Aaron Lepperd
“We live in a culture of blaming someone else for what went wrong.  This book helps change your thinking and makes you question why you have issues with taking responsibility and accountability for what goes wrong. Take extreme ownership for everything and watch how people start to view you when they know you always have their success in mind.” 


The Founder’s Mentality: How to Overcome the Predictable Crises of Growth

By Chris Zook and James Allen

Recommended by Martin Davis
“Interesting book that delves into what makes companies great and how they can avoid losing it as they grow.”


See the 2016 CIO Recommended Reading List


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