What We're Reading from the May 1 Issue of CIO Magazine

How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries By Peter Sims

Big ideas can change the world, but constantly refining smaller ideas can work just as well. Sims finds that pioneering companies such as HP, Amazon, Pixar and Apple can all attribute their success to an approach familiar to practitioners of agile development: Break a project down into small parts, apply real-world constraints to those parts, and have teams complete each piece individually, solving problems as they arise, with little top-down direction or long-term planning. Free Press, $26.00

A Complete Guide to Identifying, Preventing, and Recovering from Project Failure By Todd C. Williams

According to Williams, two-thirds of all projects blow deadlines, go over budget or don't deliver as promised. This book aims to give you the tools you need to recognize a failing project and determine what you can do to salvage it, starting with deciding whether it's worth saving and what goals are now realistic. Williams cites dozens of real-world examples with problems you know well, such as scope creep and troubles with subcontractors. Amacom, $32.95

How Managers Solve Thorny Problems with the Knowledge Jam By Katrina B. Pugh

Effectively capturing and sharing knowledge remains a huge challenge. Pugh argues that companies can get over some of the hurdles by letting users drive how knowledge is captured and shared, and by having them impart what they know in collaborative jam sessions. These meetings bring out the necessary context and detail needed for the information to be useful. The book includes sample templates for jams and tips for conducting them. It also gives a good idea of what IT resources are required to use this method of knowledge sharing. Wiley, $35.00