What We're Reading from the January 1, 2011 Issue of CIO Magazine

Books, blogs and research about technology and leadership

Business Confidential

Lessons for Corporate Success from Inside the CIA

By Peter Earnest and Maryann Karinch

Book Earnest, the executive director of the International Spy Museum, says up front that he’s not advocating corporate espionage, but after 36 years in the CIA, he has a thing or two to teach the business world. He covers recruiting and retaining the very best talent, finding and fixing organizational weaknesses and, of course, legally gathering and analyzing information. The tips are practical, and in between them are interesting anecdotes from Earnest’s years as a spy. Amacom, $24.95

Undercover Boss 

Inside the TV Phenomenon that Is Changing Bosses and Employees Everywhere

By Stephen Lambert, Eli Holzman and Mark Levine

Book This book shares insight from the CBS reality show (of the same name) where high-level execs do entry-level jobs at their companies. The show’s producers discuss various episodes, share behind-the-scenes tidbits and offer follow-up interviews explaining what bosses learned and now do differently after their appearances on the show. If you want to see for yourself how things run without everyone on their best, the-boss-is-here behavior, the book includes a guide to creating your own undercover experience. Jossey-Bass, $24.95

IT Savvy

What Top Executives Must Know to Go from Pain to Gain

By Peter Weill and Jeanne W. Ross

Book Companies that use IT well earn 20 percent higher profits than their competitors, according to MIT’s Center for Information Systems Research. Weill and Ross are the center’s chairman and director, respectively. Using examples from international companies including UPS and Procter aanndd Gamble, the authors seek to get your department to live up to its full potential as a strategic asset by helping you fix what’s wrong with IT, find the right way to fund it and assess how IT-savvy your colleagues already are. Harvard Business Press, $29.95

Exsecutus

Musings on Execution of Emerging Technologies to Create Products and Services with Real-World Value

By Jim Haughwout

Blog A few times a month, Haughwout, a former CIO, shares his 18 years’ worth of hands-on technological knowledge in detailed blog posts. The site’s best feature is its collection of multi-post drill-downs focused on one complicated topic—including the importance of software as a service, best practices for program dashboards, and a recently begun series about the pros and cons of master data management. www.exsecutus.com

Overconnected

The Promise and Threat of the Internet

By William H. Davidow

Book Some risks created by the Internet are obvious—anything on the Web can be attacked from anywhere in the world, for example. But it poses subtler threats too, says Davidow: It can create positive-feedback loops that drive irrational behavior, like the dotcom bubble and bust, and it’s what made the subprime mortgage crisis and Iceland’s banking crash possible. The book explains how such disasters happen, and argues that to prevent them, we have to start prioritizing preventing harm over creating opportunity. Delphinium Books, $27.95

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