One thing that works very well for me is reading, especially lessons learned and case studies from practitioners.
A book I frequently turn back to is Making Things Happen by Scott Berkun (he was a Microsoft program manager who shipped things like Visual Basic for Excel, and Internet Explorer 4 – the first really good version of IE). It has been a few years since I last read it, I should do a re-read soon. Scott’s blog is also excellent.
Over break, I read a book recommended by a coworker: The Membership Economy. This is one of those business books that has a few excellent insights which then get spun out to fill a book. Worth checking out from the library and flipping through for an hour or two. Or find a good summary online. It may help crystallize things by providing a shared vocabulary for discussions with my colleagues, but I don’t think it is as insightful (or as data-driven!) as Effortless Experience.
I’m currently reading Kathy Sierra’s Badass: Making Users Awesome. I love it so far; it has the great design of Kathy’s Head First books, and I love the message and mindset. Highly recommended.
For this year, the topic I’m thinking a lot about is how to work effectively in teams. The book I’m reading now is Beautiful Teams from O’Reilly, with dozens of chapters contributed by a wide range of thinkers and practitioners, from programming gurus Grady Booch and Scott Ambler to sci-fi writer Cory Doctorow.
Another book in my queue is from Bob Lewis, longtime Infoworld columnist (and IT consultant). He has some great, short books like Bare Bones Project Management: What you can’t NOT do. (And a followup on Bare Bones Change Management that is also very helpful for anyone making changes.) The book I’m going to read next is his latest: The Cognitive Enterprise. I haven’t read it yet, so I can’t tell you if I recommend it or not! But now that I’ve told you about it, it’ll motivate me to actually follow through and pick it up off my to-be-read pile – aka tsundoku.