Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Book Review: Going Corporate A Geeks Guide

The only book I’ve ever seen with a more misleading title was “The Neverending Story,” which, contrary to its title, actually ends. While “Going Corporate” is about corporations, it has very little to do with moving ahead in corporate America. It is a hodgepodge of anecdotes and tidbits of information loosely strewn together lacking any coherent purpose or mission.

The title and description led me to believe the book would be about learning how the corporate world works and advancing your career from entry level to CIO and everything in between. It’s not. This book is generally geared for an international audience, towards a programmer or software developer working for an outsourced firm in IT. The business examples and case studies focus on million and billion dollar projects dealing with the Fortune 500 and up.

The writing style is short, choppy and stilted and it’s clear the author’s primary language is not US English. In many parts of the book the language is archaic and inappropriate making references to someone's superiors and “class”. These terms are generally avoided in the US and we prefer to describe a person’s supervisor. While Kadre was the primary author, outside writers were used for some chapters and portions making for a inconsistent theme and style between chapters.

The content of the book is difficult to comment on because it was so difficult to understand. Multiple case studies with diagrams that had nothing to do with IT and computing made it easy to skip some parts and it was a quick read. Simplification of microeconomics, macroeconomics and investing were not useful or relevant to IT (and how exactly does understanding economic theories help you move up the corporate ladder?) I was particularly annoyed that Wikipedia was used as a source for information. I expect better footnotes from a book produced by a technical press.

Little to no career advice was included, but the chapters tried to cover every aspect of modern corporate systems and internal software development from a hierarchical perspective: how do you as a programmer fit into the big picture? The international focus made it difficult for US readers to relate, but numerous mentions were made to Satyam computer services. A quick search reveals this is a company that was involved in a major corporate accounting scandal, so I’m less likely to trust a book written by an author (and guest authors) with such a background. In the US, that would be like Bernie Madhoff writing a book on investing.

What was the book about? It’s hard to say. As someone working in the US, I simply couldn’t relate. Programmers working in outsourced multi-national corporations could find some value. The book will not help you “understand the larger business environment” nor will it help you at all in “starting your own” business. Unless that business is a multi-billion outsourced IT firm located outside the US. Then this book might be helpful. For the rest of us, I suggest you take a pass on this book and look elsewhere for career advice.

Pros: It’s a quick read.
Cons: I have no idea what I read. Little to no bearing on getting ahead in corporate America and moving up the ladder.

1 out of 5