From digital transformation strategy, tactics and technology – these books belong on your reading list

We asked our resident cloud-native experts to give us their recommendations for the best books on transformation.

Some are technical, some are strategic, some are role-specific…  and a couple are even presented as fictionalized stories of organizations embarking on their transformation journeys.

We were aiming for a top 10 list, but couldn’t stop there. 

Check out the 17 books on our shelf:

Book Title




Why we like it


Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t Simon Sinek

New York Times bestselling author Sinek discusses servant leadership and changing mindsets of leaders. “Leadership is not a rank, it is a responsibility. Leadership is not about being in charge, it is about taking care of those in your charge.”


Rebel Ideas: The Power of Diverse Thinking Matthew Syed

Another ‘thinking differently’ book that looks at the power of diverse thinking (think diverse teams) and uses fantastic anecdotes such as why the CIA struggled to preempt 9/11.


The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps and Helping Your Business Win Gene Kim

This entertaining and informative novel provides an eye-opening look at transformation. You’ll be able to relate to the characters and situations as the company moves from ITIL to agile.


The Unicorn Project: A Novel about Digital Disruption, Redshirts, and Overthrowing the Ancient Powerful Order Gene Kim This one, a follow-up to The Phoenix Project, is an accurate reflection of how like-minded individuals can drive change within an organization and the obstacles they have to overcome.


That’s Not How We Do It Here!: A Story About How Organizations Rise, Fall – and Can Rise Again John Kotter An engaging read about organizational change. Kotter uses a parable about a clan of meerkats in the Kalahari to explore why organizations often struggle (no matter their past success) and why they fail. 


Reaching Cloud Velocity: A Leader’s Guide to Success in the AWS Cloud Jonathan Allen,  Thomas Blood These former AWS Enterprise Strategists highlight powerful lessons learned and provide leadership best practices for cloud transformation. Allen appeared as a guest on this Cloudbusting episode, where he shared some insights presented in the book. 


Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence Max Tegmark This international bestseller, written by an MIT professor, is a fascinating look at what AI and ML will mean for the future of humanity. 


Accelerate: The Science of Lean Software and Devops: Building and Scaling High Performing Technology Organizations Nicole Forsgren, Jez Humble, Gene Kim This book presents a scientific view (including research findings) of lean software development and DevOps – and discusses how we can apply technology to drive business value. 


Alchemy: The Surprising Power of Ideas That Don’t Make Sense Rory Sutherland Sutherland, a marketing company CEO and popular TED Talker, explains why illogical thinking is what’s needed to overcome barriers to innovation. He blends cutting-edge behavioral science, jaw-dropping stories and a touch of branding magic in his mission to turn us all into idea alchemists.


Why the Vasa Sank: 10 Lessons Learned Richard E. (Dick) Fairley This paper tells the story of Vasa, the Swedish warship that sank in 1628, to illustrate the importance of following best practices. Fairley is a professor of computer science and director of the software engineering program at the Oregon Graduate Institute.


Waltzing with Bears: Managing Risk on Software Projects Tom DeMarco, Timothy Lister These authors discuss how to view risk in projects and how bad things can happen if you ignore the threat of negative outcomes. The book includes insights, real-world examples and project-savings tips.


DevOps For The Modern Enterprise: Winning Practices to Transform Legacy IT Organizations Mirco Hering This book outlines a practical approach to implementing DevOps in enterprises. Many organizations face the uphill battle of modernizing their legacy IT infrastructures; Hering lays out a roadmap for people, process and technology. 


Sooner Safer Happier: Antipatterns and Patterns for Business Agility Jonathan Smart Smart, a business agility practitioner, thought leader and coach, provides a how-to guide for implementing agile and creating business agility in large organizations. Winner of the Bronze Medal in Leadership from the Axiom Business Book Awards.


A Seat at the Table: IT Leadership in the Age of Agility Mark Schwartz Schwartz describes how a CIO can become the driving voice for business change through technology. Agile, Lean and DevOps approaches are radical game changers – this book explores the role of IT leadership as it is now and reveals IT leadership as it should be. 


Implementing Beyond Budgeting: Unlocking the Performance Potential Bjarte Bogsnes In this read, organizations are challenged to think agile from a financial planning and forecasting perspective, in a way that aligns very well to agile, DevOps and cloud. A blend of theoretical and practical, it  describes how to bring a more empowered and adaptive management model to life.


Project to Product Mik Kersten Kersten introduces the Flow Framework – a new way of seeing, measuring and managing software delivery. This practical model helps organizations shift from a project-oriented to product-centric mindset.


Ahead in the Cloud: Best Practices for Navigating the Future of Enterprise IT Stephen Orban Orban, former CIO at Dow Jones, now leads AWS’s Enterprise Strategy function. This compilation of his blogs around cloud adoption highlights what works, what doesn’t and how enterprises can transform themselves using the cloud.


Get a free copy of a book of your choice from our picks – discover how.

If you have any questions – or would like us to dive a little deeper into your current maturity and cloud adoption objectives – we would be glad to schedule an intro call with our advisory team.