I wrote this book for my students at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, where I am teaching my graduate IT management survey course (SEIS664, IT Delivery) for the 7th semester in a row. I'd tried using my first book but found that the order of the material wasn't well suited for classroom use. St. Thomas is a teaching college and caters to students of all backgrounds, including those with no previous experience, those with non-technical undergraduate degrees, and those wanting to change careers. I have to educate a diverse student body, in terms of age, nationality, professional experience, and gender.
Teaching "IT Management" is an interesting problem. There are many Management Information Systems (MIS) textbooks, and I requisitioned all of them. (One of the benefits of being faculty.) None of them were suited to my needs. Modern MIS courses and textbooks, especially at the undergraduate, survey level, are intended to orient all students to the role of information systems in the modern enterprise. My course, by contrast, is an “inside-out” course intended to prepare the student for a career in digital industry.
The MIS textbooks have some serious issues beyond their orientation. They focus on the largest enterprises, and don't seem to have sensible chapter orderings. But by far their biggest failure: they are outdated. Cloud coverage is limited, and Agile barely gets a mention. They often uncritically cite industry guidance such ITIL, PMBOK, and CMMI, at a time when many companies are rejecting such guidance (for sound reasons, as I discuss in the text).
This was brought home forcefully for me last year when I found myself teaching a so-called "Mini Masters" course to a group of about 30 people who had been laid off from Target. In a notorious press release, Target attributed these layoffs (which fell heavily on project management professionals and their Project Management Office) to "transition to an Agile ... model." The students -- mid-career professionals with families -- were shell-shocked and I will never forget the looks on their faces. "They laid off hundreds of us and there are all these ... DevOps ... positions open," one person said in the class.
That was the moment that crystallized it for me. Since then, I have written and spoken on the DevOps/Agile/digital challenge to higher education, and worked with a team of faculty in the Minnesota State system as a lead author on a report, Renewing the IT Curriculum: Responding to Agile, DevOps, and Digital Transformation, which I presented at the DevOps Enterprise Summit last fall in San Francisco.
So, back to that 600-page thing... Well, it's an "all in one" textbook intended for a survey course, which is what I teach. It has over 270 citations, extensively referencing authors like Don Reinertsen, Mike Cohn, and Tom Limoncelli and bringing them to the classroom in an integrated presentation. At 50 pages a week, over 12 weeks it's a reasonable reading load at a Master's level, even for non-English speakers. I pair it with the Phoenix Project. The material is mostly non-technical and focuses at the level of practice and management. What's different is that every single chapter was written from the ground up based in concepts from Agile, Lean Product Development, and related thought on digital management.
The book is in a quiet open release on LeanPub. You can see an excerpt including introductions, TOC, sample chapter section, and index. I'll talk more about toolchain, backlog and the like in a future blog - there is still some polishing to be done.
I haven't settled on a final name yet. I have considered:
- Agile IT Management: From Startup to Enterprise
- The Digital Professional: From Startup to Enterprise
- Digital Delivery: Concepts and Practices
- Digital: Concepts and practices
Leaning towards the last. Thoughts?
I'm looking for reviewers. Here's my biggest question: given the vast scope of digital management, did I curate the right material? Many of you will know much of the stuff in the book. But that's because you have been reading your whole career. At a content level, this book isn't for you... it's for your child, or other young people in your life, or your relative who wants to get into the field. Or your friend who just got laid off from their 20-year PMO or ITIL job. You can "give back" to them and others like them by helping me finish the project here.
I'll be more active for a while here, discussing various aspects of the work. Let me know what you think.