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A Seat at the Table

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  477 ratings  ·  43 reviews
Agile, Lean, and DevOps approaches are radical game changers, providing a fundamentally different way to think about how IT fits into the enterprise, how IT leaders lead, and how IT can harness technology to accomplish the objectives of the enterprise. But honest and open conversations are not taking place between management and Agile delivery teams.

In A Seat at the Table,
Paperback, 376 pages
Published September 12th 2017 by It Revolution Press
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Julian Dunn
Jan 28, 2018 rated it liked it
When Mark Schwartz opens his mouth, you're not sure if you're going to get a dose of management theory or a quote from Derrida. This can be entertaining if you're just along for the ride, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance-style, but inordinately frustrating if what you want is someone who gets to the point quickly without the philosophical dialectics about the meaning of life.

When Schwartz is on, he's on: this tends to be near the beginning and ends of this book (modulo the introduction,
Jan 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a fantastic book that attacks the silo-ization of IT (and its leadership) in a business. I am going to have to write a longer review, but for now I'll just say that a remarkable feat is accomplished in chapters 5 ("Requirements") and 9 ("Governance and Oversight") where Schwartz essentially derives the OKR system from "Agile" first principles. He comes up with a system that has much of the thinking of OKRs without all of the baggage.

Elsewhere the book expands on his deep skepticism -- as
Bjoern Rochel
Jul 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: eng-mgmt, 2020
I think whether you like or dislike this one heavily depends on your personal context. It's not targeting developers or engineering team leads. I think it doesn't even target people familiar with Agile or Lean. Neither is it all encompassing. It quite heavily references other material.

If you already know a bit about Lean or Agile or have read a lot the material that it references, I suppose you will not get much from this book.

It's written specifically for the typical top level IT management i
Emanuele Blanco
Jul 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've been an Agile enthusiast for the majority of my development career, and I have first hand experienced the competitive advantage that being truly agile gives to product engineering teams. As I moved into IT leadership, however, the challenges were different - and the dichotomy of being agile in the development space but waterfall in the leadership space became clearer to me. Mark challenges how the Agile manifesto didn't consider Senior Management - or actually considered it just as an imped ...more
Toyin A
Nov 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is one of the few books that address IT leadership without mincing words. Firstly, he sets the ground work by explaining how IT fits into the overall business. Then explains how IT leadership will always have a reactionary role if it continues to see itself as having to prove value instead of actually delivering value.

Mark not only states the problems IT leaders have in providing value, he also gives useful/ practical solutions. He shows how Agile and other modern delivery methods can be be
Tõnu Vahtra
May 08, 2020 rated it liked it
I did have high expectations when picking up this book since it was advertised under IT Revolution (Like Phoenix and Unicorn Project) but as one who has read 100+ books on management and leadership it's not very easy to impress when another IT person starts writing about how leadership should be done. Since working 10+ years in IT organization leadership myself the disconnect between "business" and "IT" sounds very awkward and unnecessary because from my perspective IT is the business and vice v ...more
Nov 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a story of courage. It is the up and coming CIO who needs to have the courage to run counter to several decades of IT methods that are no longer valid for the environments which we're working in.

ASatT attacks the underpinnings on many traditional methods which were based on command and control of a disparate part of the organization, the IT department. It argues that it's no longer valid for the IT department to be disconnected from "the business" and that it's no longer valid for the CI
Sebastian Gebski
Mar 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Hmm, I was really struggling with rating this book. On one hand I couldn't help the impression that author sometimes falls into the trap of "generic Agile talk no 435" - by continuously repeating basic statements taken straight from Agile Manifesto or immortal classics of Agile literature, but OTOH even then I've managed to collect a nice set of notes & comments - which clearly means that the book got me thinking ...

As book is intended for the high executive profiles (CIOs), I was very intereste
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A very good book to understand the place not only of CTO ( this is how I understand abbreviation CIO in the book ) but of all people of the IT department. World has changed, as in the past business and IT people were like 2 different worlds, each inventing their own means and tools to tame the other side. Agile, Scrum, Waterfall etc. were created in such manner. But the world changed. IT is always about uncertainty - we can't estimate things properly, especially with long time frames, and a seat ...more
Oct 15, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: devops, agile
Interesting book particularly for those who have had little exposure to the Agile / Lean / DevOps mindsets as it will provide a high level view where no doubt you will have to dig deeper and expand your knowledge by using other more in depth references to the particular topics. This justifies the overall hodgey-podgey sensation that you get on reading the book where sometimes you feel like all the paradigms are thrown in together without the background which I think you need to get in order to u ...more
William Anderson
Philosophy for the tech leader. Schwartz delivers insightful, well-sourced points of view that will shift or evolve how you think about the teams you lead, the role you play, and your organization. The book is delivered confidently to its target audience (Sr tech leadership) and makes no apologies for assumptions of knowing jargon/arcitectural patterns and so forth. A must read for any leader in the tech space, Schwartz offers insights into how to lead teams, how to deliver business value, aspir ...more
Alan Hill
Jul 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Transform your thinking on how IT should be perceived in an organization. Some organizations believe in an incorrect model where IT functions as service provider or consultancy where it is actually as integral to the business as finance or operations. In order for the CIO to get a "seat at the table" a change in thinking needs to occur where IT is invested in business outcomes rather than controlling systems and delivering on requested tasks. One has to blow up the conventional contractor contro ...more
Niels Bach
Jul 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Explaining Agile/Lean from a management perspective

Finally a book that goes beyond Kanban boards and scrum and dive into the difficult Challenge of changing the mindset to cope with a non-waterfall execution model that Can eliminate waste and cope with risk. Development and IT Security is filled with uncertainty and doubt. This book gives a Nice bid on How to handle that uncertainty and doubt while managing risk and continously deliver value. Definitely a recommendation from here.
David Goade
Nov 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A Seat at the Table is Mark’s follow-up to the Art of Business Value. With AoBV, he began posing troubling questions for the Agile community by explaining how we’ve been taking too narrow a view of business value. He also revealed his ulterior motives when he asks as a CIO, “If the team is not allowed to listen to anyone other than the product owner, then what exactly should I be doing to add value to the enterprise?”. That’s Mark: provocative and funny.

Maybe Mark makes trouble because he’s has
Rajesh Kamatanam
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
I picked up this book to understand rationale behind why IT leaders are taking certain decisions these days and Schwartz certainly did great job elaborating it.Although target audience for this book are senior IT leaders, it can be beneficial for anyone working at any level in IT since this book mostly covers agile principles and how they are implemented across organization.Schwartz made narration of this book interesting by starting every chapter with a famous philosophical quote.
David Brooke
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dxc
This is an excellent read. The title doesn't do justice to the content - basically it's about how to embrace DevOps principles at the IT Strategy level as well as at the Software Development level.

My only real disappointment is that it only covers how to approach things when all of the IT staff are permanent employees of the 'business' organisation. It doesn't offer any guidance on working with IT partners or external suppliers.
John Cumming
Jun 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What an inspirational book, yet pragmatic and practical.

Mark provides insight into why there is a need for a change from the contractor relationship between IT and ‘the business’, what that should look like in an age of uncertainty and potential and how IT leaders can move from using their expertise to lead IT for the business to someone who leads the whole company from the point of view of someone with deep IT expertise.

A highly recommended book, even if it took me some time to complete!
Jul 01, 2020 rated it liked it
The introduction was superb. Presented a novel way of thinking about IT and how it ties into business strategy. The old paradigm of the contractor-control model is still very real today and I agreed with all his arguments for why IT has to break free from that.

Unfortunately the rest of the book petered out quickly with Schwartz spending a huge amount of time discussing the history and evolution of IT management practices at a very high level. I question who his intended audience is, because it
Interesting take on the role of CIO in the modern Agile world of software development. Schwartz talks about some of the traditional corporate views of IT and the traditional responses as IT struggles for respect (and budgets). Schwartz's main point is that the traditional "contractor" model doesn't serve anyone well, and that IT needs to start viewing themselves as generators of business value. In this world, the CIO (and other management) should serve to coordinate amongst teams and remove bloc ...more
Kevin Wilkie
Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
There are a few good ideas within the book - a few smatterings.

But lots of bad ones that really just sound like he came up with them in an Ivory Tower that has never actually been the CIO of a place that deals with IT.

As with life, it takes a few thousand horrible ideas to come up with a few good ones.
Nikolay Theosom
Dec 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
this is actually pretty great. i think he has nailed the mental divide between tech and biz people really well. albeit it gets quite repetitive and doesn't go much beyond the tortured genius mindset. I wish he spent just as much rigour into thinking about how to make the relationship work, as he did on figuring out who to blame. the next book maybe? ...more
Simon Hohenadl
Jan 07, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up-on
I listened to the first few chapters, but could not understand what Schwatz was trying to tell me apart from an introduction to agile and lean from the "business" point of view. Also, it was not clear to me what the CIO role is. Schwartz says this book is aimed at people responsilbe of internal IT systems, but keeps talking about general product development. ...more
Jul 30, 2018 rated it liked it
A superficial account on how to 'transform' IT leadership into the agile era (that started already 20 years ago...).

Nevertheless, this book points to some inconvenient truths for most IT leaders and as such is a great wake-up call to get them thinking!
Nov 12, 2018 rated it liked it
The book is a little basic and very slow. The content although true is geared to giant monolithic organisations where this stuff might not be in affect.

That being said some of the points were pretty good but the format wasn't for me.
Dec 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
There are two kinds of projects: failed it projects and successful business projects. Good guide to agile and how it leadership and cios can fit in the agile work. Don't agree with the author on the build vs buy discussion, but useful book for it and business to work together ...more
Steve Watson
Jun 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Yes, software, and by default the CIO, are crucial to today's businesses. Mr. Schwartz does an excellent job of describing how and why the CIO deserves a seat on the board, not just the C-suite. Very thought provoking. I couldn't put it down. ...more
Dec 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great insight into the evolving relationship between business and IT.
Bart Schotten
Jan 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
The introduction is too long and the tone is a bit inconsistent, but the meat of the book is spot on. I wish every CIO would read this.
Michael Brunton-spall

An easy read that covers the fundamentals of agile and how our management thinking needs to be turned upside down.
Dave Townsend
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The most pragmatic real book on agile.
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