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Truth from the Trenches: Finally, A Book for IT Leaders and Innovators

Mark Settle 2

We’re approaching the holiday season, which means you’re probably thinking about how to dominate your office’s gift swap or secret santa. Or maybe you’re trying to figure out what you could possibly put in your favorite coworker’s stocking. Luckily, my first book, Truth From the Trenches: A Practical Guide to the Art of IT Management, is now available on Amazon.com.

I say that only somewhat facetiously because I couldn’t think of a better audience for Truth From the Trenches than the IT innovators and leaders who follow Okta. As an industry, IT has historically done a poor job of passing on the hard-won leadership lessons, and I wanted to remedy that by sharing the insights I've collected through years of personal experience as a seven-time CIO.

A few years ago, I realized that many other books on IT management have been written by consultants or industry analysts. The view from the trenches — what it actually takes to be successful in an IT leadership role — is in some ways very different, and admittedly somewhat obvious, but in many ways elusive. Of course, ultimately everyone learns by doing, and there are no handbooks or certification processes that prescribe what it takes to be an effective technology leader. Most strong leaders realize early in their careers that their knowledge and energy alone won't scale to make every important decision within an IT organization. Then, if they’re lucky, they surrounded themselves with smart, capable people to propel the organization forward.

That’s one of Truth From the Trenches’ focus areas: people are more important than technology. I believe IT leaders can significantly improve the effectiveness of their organizations by truly managing employee performance, not just mouthing platitudes during the annual performance review. I also discuss how IT managers and directors can drive effectiveness by prioritizing tasks and activities on a weekly or even daily basis — something Agile development teams do routinely — and eliminating “IT bureaucracy,” or in other words, automating internal handoffs among multiple technical teams.

I don’t want to give too much more away, but I will promise that in addition to actionable takeaways, I also cover revenge, obsessive compulsive disorders, dysfunctional families and the spiritual life of cats. I’m not even kidding. Ultimately, if you read Truth From the Trenches and come away with one learning that improves the effectiveness of your IT team, I will consider it to be a raging success.

Find out more about Mark’s debut book, Truth From the Trenches: A Practical Guide to the Art of IT Management, here.


Mark Settle 2

Mark Settle is a seven time CIO with broad business experience in information services, enterprise software, consumer products, high tech distribution, financial services and oil & gas.  He has led IT organizations that supported the global operations of Fortune 500 companies; maintained the R&D infrastructure required for software product development; and hosted customer-facing delivery systems for commercial products and services. He has received multiple industry awards and is a three time CIO 100 honoree.

Settle sits on the advisory boards of several Silicon Valley venture capital firms and pioneered the adoption of service management and cloud computing technologies within several large enterprises.  He is the author of Truth from the Trenches: A Practical Guide to the Art of IT Management which will be released in the fall of 2016.  Settle’s formal training is in the Geological Sciences. He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from MIT and a PhD from Brown University.  Settle is a former Air Force officer and NASA Program Scientist.

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