Great DevOps books to read

As if anyone reads books any more. I'm drowning in great books to read while the Internet gives me endless distractions. My attention span is shot to hell, and my memory has been replaced by Google.

But sometimes I find a few minutes and here are some of my favourites for understanding this beast called DevOps. [Updated 14/11/2019]

(See also our broader and deeper reading list on New Ways of Working and Managing.)

(If your reading skills have atrophied, see my list of great blog posts)

  • The Phoenix Project, Kim, Behr, Spafford Amazon
    A novel which tells the story of a reluctant CIO rescuing an IT department from disaster. An accessible way to understand all the key concepts.
    My review of it here
  • DevOps Handbook, Kim, Debois, Willis, Humble, Allspaw Amazon
    The definitive description of DevOps.
  • Thinking Environments, DevOps Forum Free download
    The best of the excellent series of booklets that came out of Gene Kim's DevOps Enterprise Forum 2016, this one on "evaluating organisational models for DevOps to accelerate business and empower workers".
  • Effective DevOps, Davis, Daniels Amazon
    An excellent textbook covering the whole field. I'm sure it has flaws, and things I'll disagree with.... but I'm still reading it. it looks great so far, really useful.
  • Making Work Visible, Degrandis Amazon
    The definitive book on Kanban.
  • Project to Product, Kersten Amazon
  • Beyond Command and Control, John Seddon, 2019 Amazon
    An important new read on systems theory, set in the context of call centre support.
  • Lean Enterprise, Humble, Molesky, O’Reilly Amazon
    A great discussion of the organisational culture and behaviours. A bit too unicorn at times (startups) but covers real enterprises too.
  • Leading the Transformation, Gruver, Mouser Amazon
    Excellent practical advice on DevOps at large scale in a legacy org, from someone who has done a transformation
  • The Art of Business Value, Schwartz Amazon
    Nails the issue of defining business value
  • A Seat at the Table, Schwartz Amazon
    Highly spoken of.
  • Accelerate, Fosgren, Humble Amazon
    Getting rave reviews. It's a distillation of writing and statistical data from the State of Devops report.
  • Run, Grow, Transform, Bell Amazon
    An excellent model for the journey of the transformation
  • Continuous Delivery,Humble, Farley Amazon
    The definitive description of the behaviours, processes and automation of DevOps' core practice: continuously delivering code ready to deploy. (I haven't read this one: only a tech could love it. But I give it to my clients!)
  • Site Reliability Engineering, Beyer, Jones Amazon
    How Google runs production systems. "Unicorn" thinking which contains learnings for all of us, especially in Operations.

I've restricted myself to what I consider the cream of books on or near the topic of DevOps. What are some of your favourites?

It is hard to keep up solely through books. Here are some faster moving sources of knowledge:
DevOps Café podcast
Arrested DevOps podcast
The Ship Show podcast website
DOES conference videos

You may like to also read my book Plus! The Standard+Case Approach which looks at response models. It applies to DevOps thinking around standardisation of work in order to automate it, and to swarming of problems. Amazon

Also if you want to understand this Service Management thing, you could start with my book Basic Service Management Amazon

In response to popular demand, here is my pick of the seminal books that underpin DevOps:

  • Reinventing Organizations, Laloux Amazon
    Don't miss the Foreword by Ken Wilber
  • Out of the Crisis, J.Edwards Deming Amazon
  • The New Economics, J.Edwards Deming Amazon
  • Toyota Kata, Rother Amazon
  • The Goal, Eli Goldratt Amazon
  • Product Development Flow, Reinertsen Amazon
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman Amazon
  • Freedom from Command and Control, John Seddon Amazon
  • Cynefin framework, Dave Snowden
    A website not a book, but deserves mention:
  • How Complex Systems Fail, Dr Richard Cook
    Not a book, but a brief PDF
  • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni Amazon
  • The Fifth Discipline, Peter Senge Amazon
  • The Field Guide to Understanding 'Human Error' , Sidney Dekker Amazon
  • Freedom From Command And Control, John Seddon.
  • The Systems Bible, Gall Amazon
  • Start With Why, Simon Sinek Amazon
  • Lean IT, Bell and Orzen Amazon
  • Agile Software Development, Cockburn Amazon
  • Antifragile, Nic Taleb Amazon
    I have to say Taleb is unreadable. I never recommend him. Pompous and opaque.
    Jez Humble' s blog on Antifragile is enough for most DevOps practitioners.
  • First Break All the Rules, Buckingham Amazon
    I wish I had read this before I managed people.
  • Joy, Inc., Richard Sheridan Amazon
    This is so new age hippy dippy it made me gag but others love it.
  • The High-Velocity Edge: How Market Leaders Leverage Operational Excellence to Beat the Competition, Dr Steven Spear Amazon
    The title alone has put me off reading this so far - it screams hustler b.s. - but others point to it.

More posts on DevOps.

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In a comment on this blog, "Unsatisfied" launched into a tirade about how "There's nothing new in DevOps" then gave us this huge list:
- The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement
- The Six Sigma Way: How to Maximize the Impact of Your Change and Improvement Efforts
- Re engineering the Corporation: A Manifesto for Business Revolution
- Competing Against Time: How Time-Based Competition is Reshaping Global Markets
- Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done
- The Power of Resilience: How the Best Companies Manage the Unexpected
- The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right
- The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail
- Jack: Straight from the Gut
- My Years with General Motors
- Throughput accounting and activity-based costing: The driving factors behind each methodology.
- Goldratt, E. M. 1990. What is this thing called Theory of Constraints.
- Goldratt, E. M. 1990. The Haystack Syndrome: Sifting Information Out of the Data Ocean
- Goldratt, E. M. 1992. From Cost world to throughput world. Advances In Management Accounting
- Goldratt, E. M., E. Schragenheim and C. A. Ptak. 2000. Necessary But Not Sufficient.
- Constraint-based profitability analysis: Stepping beyond the Theory of Constraints.
- Using drum-buffer-rope scheduling rather than just-in-time production.
- Theory of constraints versus traditional management accounting.
- Cost-volume-profit analysis and the theory of constraints.
- Comparing Dupont's ROI with Goldratt's ROI.
- Comparing Traditional Costing, ABC, JIT, and TOC.
- Drum-Buffer-Rope System.
- Global measurements of the theory of constraints.
- Goldratt's dice game or match bowl experiment.
- TOC problems and introduction to linear programming.
- Synchronous manufacturing: Putting the goal to work.
- An introduction to the theory of constraints.
- Measuring operational performance in a throughput world.

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