Reading list


(c) Paul Simpson 2024

I have always done a lot of reading. It remains the best way for me to learn something new.

In 2024 I have decided to add my reading list to my posts with links to the books and any comments I have on the usefulness (or otherwise). I have included novels and you’ll rarely see any comments on the lessons to be learned as quality professionals. But you never know!

The 2024 books are in reverse order of reading, so the latest is at the top. I won’t keep on publishing this on LinkedIn but may occasionally put a post on that refers to it. As we go through the year, I’ll also add some earlier reads that I think every #quality #professional should read. They will be at the end of this piece to fit in with the ‘build’ of the post.

Work Rules – Laszlo Bock, SVP of People Operations at Google – Google’s people management approach and strategy. A work in progress.

‘Picture Your Business: The Way to Extraordinary Performance and Quality’ – Alan C Clark. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in an organisational-level ‘take stock and improve’ programme. Very readable with loads of useful resources.

It Looked Good on Paper – edited by Bill Fawcett. Contributors identified a list of spectacular failures. Starting with The Great Stele of Aksum around AD 330 and ending with failures in space exploration we see examples of design and calculation failures that resulted in tragedy and/or embarrassment.

Empire of the Clouds -James Hamilton-Paterson A fabulous account of the Post World War 2 developments in jet-powered flight. It looks at the opportunities missed to maintain Britain’s leading role in jet aircraft. The causes of the failure are identified primarily with the designers, manufacturers, UK airlines and government.

All the Devils are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis – Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera One that has been ‘a read in process’ for many years. I finally finished it and went back around to the start to refresh my memory of the early chapters. This gives a few clues that this is not an easy read! The financial services sector is riddled with complexity and shrouded with jargon. It is definitely worth spending the time. The book was on the Financial Times long list of the best business books of 2010. Through the text there are so many ‘quality’ issues that come to light that ultimately led to banks lending to people who could not pay them back and the whole pack of cards fell in 2008/9.

Beyond Contempt: The Inside Story of the Phone Hacking Trial – Peter Jukes – Not quite as political as some of the earlier books but still likely to get people shouting out loud. In the introduction the author talks about British justice being on trial and, if so, I find the system guilty of failing to meet my needs.

The 4 Pillars of Critical Thinking: 103 Techniques & Hacks to Improve Your Work and Personal Life by Mastering Mental Skills. Analyze Situations Better and Reason Well by Detecting Logical Fallacies – Patrik Meyer – An area of real interest to me and the book certainly covers a lot of ground (as the 103 tools alludes to). It can’t quite get my recommendation as there isn’t enough information on the tools and there isn’t a ‘whole’ that can get my attention.

Depraved New World: Please Hold, the Government Will Be With You Shortly – by John Crace – Another giveaway on my thoughts on the current state of the government. The author is a Guardian writer and the book is a series of his articles with the occasional link explaining what had been happening around the time the article was published. The timeline covers everything from Partygate, the ousting of Boris Johnson, and Liz Truss & Kwasi Kwarteng’s disastrous ‘not quite a budget’.

The Great Post Office Scandal: The story of the fight to expose a multimillion pound IT disaster which put innocent people in jail  – Nick Wallis – more required reading for quality professionals. The book has been sitting on my eBook reader for over twelve months. It took the ITV drama, Mr. Bates vs. The Post Office to move it (near to) the top of my reading list.

The author, Nick Wallis, has produced an amazing piece of investigative journalism. He balances the harrowing personal stories of the Subpostmasters and Subpostmistresses (SPM), a detailed timeline of the events that led up to the largest miscarriages of justice in British history and a forensic examination of the legal cases and evidence that proves The Post Offices prosecuted its SPMs while having and not disclosing to the defendants the information that showed that the Horizon IT system was unreliable.

This tragic case study starts with quality failings in software development and project management and throughout the scandal there were multiple opportunities for responsible professionals to stand up and challenge a toxic culture and ropey processes.

This book is required reading for quality professionals, software developers and anyone required to deal with a delivery network like the SPMs. An additional ‘recommended’ list includes anyone in the Met Police investigating possible criminal activity at the Post Office and anyone at the Crown Prosecution Service who will have to decide whether to take action.

hashtag#quality hashtag#postofficescandal

Phantom – Jo Nesbo, Don Bartlett (Translator)

Icons of Northamptonshire – CPRE and Northamptonshire County Council – no quality lessons here, I’m afraid (and not a novel). A great coffee table book showing some of the best bits of the county.

The Rooster Bar – John Grisham

The Ministry of Common Sense‘ by Martin Lindstrom – fabulous read. Although there is no mention of quality in the title or the blurb. The author uses anecdotes of a lack of common sense, starting with an airport purchase that can’t be opened in the airport for use on a flight. These are examples of where quality can make a difference to organisations.

The Leopard – Jo Nesbo, Don Bartlett (Translator)

How they broke Britain – James O’Brien  – a political tour de force. The author lists the ten people he believes are responsible for ‘breaking’ Britain. There are chapters on Rupert Murdoch, Paul Dacre and Andrew Neil of mainstream media fame, he also covers the politicians Nigel Farage, David Cameron, Jeremy Corbyn, Boris Johnson and Liz Truss and special advisors Matthew Elliott and Dominic Cummings from Vote Leave. You can probably guess my view on the individuals when I tell you that I really enjoyed the book but wish I had never had to read it. Brexit remains a stain on this country’s recent past and will continue to cause economic and political harm to the UK until long after I am dead.


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