mark cerqueira well-rounded nerd

Manager Reads - An Elegant Puzzle - Systems of Engineering Management

The twentieth entry in the Manager Reads series covers a book hot off the press! Released on May 20th this post covers An Elegant Puzzle: Systems of Engineering Management by Will Larson (@lethain).

Who recommended the book? I first saw An Elegant Puzzle pop up on my Twitter feed before it was released and it looked interesting so I added it to my wish list. Before I got a chance to buy it one of my directs grabbed me a copy when he was visting the Stripe office. The subtle (or not so subtle) hint that this may have been still keeps me up at night.

Judge the book by its cover, font, page quality? An Elegant Puzzle is easily the most beautiful book of the twenty Manager Reads books I’ve covered thus far. The cover is charming: featuring embossed trees that highlight the complexity of engineering management. Inside things keep the same aesthetic level; thick pages with a great, clean font and figures throughout. It does everything right here and I can’t deny I may have been initially attracted to the book because of its beautiful cover.

Thoughts on the book and the big take-aways? An Elegant Puzzle presents the series of puzzles Larson has encountered in his career in engineering management. Spanning a wide range of topics - Organizations, Tools, Approaches, Culture, Careers - Larson walks us through the challenges he’s faced in those areas and how he worked through them. The recurring theme is these methods are actionable templates so you too can start applying them to the challenges you may be working through right now.

The content is diverse but ultimately gives you valuable perspective and tools to help you succeed across the many facets of engineering management. While I read the entire book in a few sittings, the author suggests and I will certainly find myself revisiting specific sections of the book in the future.

Favorite quote from the book? “Leadership is matching appropriate action to your current context, and it’s pretty uncommon that any two situations will flourish from the same behaviors.”

Elevator pitch for suggesting (or not suggesting) the book? A beautiful (if you like judging books by their cover) and very useful reference book for the diverse challenges engineering managers deal with. Definitely recommend you read it, and may even be able to convince you to carry it around with you everywhere!

Notes in Evernote? You’ll want a copy of this book close at all times but if you want a peek at what I found most helpful check out my notes on 🐘.

Most of the world’s wisdom is written down in its best books. Manager Reads is a series covering books on management and leadership, focusing on books that can improve your own leadership with the wisdom of others. Enjoyed this post and want to see more? Check out more at Manager Reads.