In Navigating Change in Crisis, we explore how individuals and companies are adapting to a “new normal” to keep essential services functioning. We provide actionable advice around how organizations, and ultimately the builders of data and analytic apps, are adjusting to meet these changes. These insights aim to help you and your team navigate these unprecedented times.

We are living in a very different kind of normal right now. In the blink of an eye, coronavirus became a reality that the global workforce is adjusting to. Almost everybody is sheltering at home — or we hope they are. For some, this means their work is on hold. Others have lost their jobs altogether, and the majority of the workforce who can are working remotely. To say these circumstances have disrupted our lives and routines is an understatement.

At the same time, we are all digging deep to find ways to carry on and to even create a sense of normalcy the best we can. In that spirit, one thing we all have in common is that we’re all online. There is a wealth of knowledge and learning available. So it’s a great opportunity to enhance our professional and personal growth — through reading. In fact, reading books and listening to audiobooks is up 35% worldwide as of March 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There is a treasure trove of market, culture, and management guidance published for business executives. Developers have access to endless content about digital transformation and software development, including infrastructure and architecture topics, containerization, and the cloud. Or perhaps instead they prefer to hone their skills in SQL, Python, or R. If data science is your jam, there are so many exciting new developments in AI, machine learning, natural language processing, and graph databases that you could keep busy reading for days on end. Product managers and data engineers have plenty to choose from in the data and analytics space, particularly given how effective these technologies are proving to be in the fight against COVID-19. 

I asked my Sisense colleagues to share some of their favorite book titles that they have loved and learned from. Here is their list:

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Shelly Landsmann, VP of international sales and global cloud alliances, recommends:

“The Black Swan” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb: “It’s a relevant book for this period, talking about the analysis and learning from the 9/11 events. We cannot forecast a black swan appearance, but we can try to predict which companies will survive — those that have strong fundamentals, infrastructure, and culture. For me, the takeaway is the need to prepare those critical things to face uncertainty in the current market.”

Harry Glaser, chief marketing officer and general manager of West, recommends:

“Catch and Kill” by Ronan Farrow: “I just finished this. It’s a profile in courage from an investigative journalist taking on a massive power structure and also a total page-turner. If Farrow ever wants to give up his journalism career, he can fall back on writing thrillers any time.”

“Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro: “One of my all-time favorites. Ishiguro is the master of the unreliable narrator, making you see everything except what’s right in front of your eyes — which, in this case, are the consequences of thoughtless technological advancement.”

Danny Essner, VP of revenue marketing, recommends:

“Freakonomics” by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner: “This look at the hidden side of everything through an economic lens answers questions and solves problems in the modern world. It caused a sensation that continues with three more books and a timely and interesting podcast (latest episode: ‘What Does COVID-19 Mean for Cities [and Marriages]?’).” 

“Competing on Analytics: The New Science of Winning” by Thomas H. Davenport and Jeanne G. Harris: “‘Competing on Analytics’ uses a five-stage model of competition to provide the road map for winning in business. It shows readers how to create new strategies for their organizations with an emphasis on analytics for marketing, supply chain, finance, mergers and acquisitions, operations, research and development, and HR.”

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Nurit Shiber, chief people officer, recommends:

“Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success” by Adam Grant: “In today’s dramatically reconfigured world, success is increasingly dependent on how we interact with others. This book illuminates what effective networking, collaboration, influence, negotiation, and leadership skills have in common.”

“The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle: “Coyle demystifies the culture-building process at some of the world’s most successful organizations by identifying three key skills that generate cohesion and cooperation and explains how diverse groups learn to function with a single mind.”

Guy Levy-Yurista, chief strategy officer, recommends:

“Play Bigger: How Pirates, Dreamers, and Innovators Create and Dominate Markets” by Christopher Lochhead, Al Ramadan, Dave Peterson, and Kevin Maney: “In this guide to beating the competition, the founders of Silicon Valley advisory firm Play Bigger rely on data analysis and interviews to understand the inner workings of ‘category kings’ — companies such as Amazon, Salesforce, Uber, and Ikea — that give us new ways of living, thinking, or doing business.”

“The Golem and the Jinni” by Helene Wecker: “The story of two supernatural creatures who cross paths in 1899 New York. Marvelous and compulsively readable, it weaves strands of folk mythology, historical fiction, and magical fable into a wondrously inventive and unforgettable tale.”

Leon Gendler, senior VP of engineering, recommends: 

“Talking to Strangers” by Malcolm Gladwell: “Any book by Malcolm Gladwell is a great book. I listened to this as an audiobook, which I think is better for this one due to in-person testimonials. Especially relevant to a global, multicultural organization working together and trying to understand each other.”

“The Collapsing Empire” (The Interdependency trilogy) and/or “Old Man’s War” by John Scalzi (at least the first 2 books): “These are excellent sci-fi novels of a futuristic intergalactic universe. And for those who didn’t read ‘Ender’s Game,’ make sure to read it!”

My personal pick

Last but not least is my top pick — just one! My book selection is “Thinking Fast & Slow” by Daniel Kahneman, the renowned psychologist and Nobel Peace Prize winner for Economics. It’s a fascinating read that introduces two systems that ultimately shape how humans think — our judgment and what guides our decision-making. For anyone passionate about data, this is a must-read!

No one knows what’s going to happen next or what shape our new normal will take. But for now, we can take this time to learn and grow so we’re as prepared as possible to adapt and lead in what will surely be a changed business and technology world.


Michelle Herman is VP, Corporate Marketing & Brand for Sisense. She’s been fortunate to contribute to iconic technology brands such as Google, Firefox, and HP and has held marketing leadership positions at Hyperion (Oracle), SuccessFactors (SAP Cloud), and most recently at Adaptive Insights (Workday).

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