Management 3.0

In his foreword, Robert C. Martin wrote that he hates management book, but “this book is smart”. I think that this book might be smart because Jurgen is smart. To start with a full disclosure, I have to say that I know Jurgen Appelo since the beginning of 2008 when he wrote is first article for the Summer 2008 issue of Methods & Tools ” We Increment to Adapt, We Iterate to Improve”. You will already enjoy in this article the distinctive style that Jurgen adopt to investigate software development problem, although he was perhaps less tempted to put some grains of humor in his writing at that time.

If I tried to summarize what you get from his book, you can consider Jurgen Appelo as the hidden son resulting from a relationship between a Springer Verlag journal’s editor and Mike Cohn, with some influence from Aardman Studios in the education. You will therefore jump from sentences like “It is often seen as the opposite of reductionism, although complexity scientists believe that complexity is the bridge between the two, and both are necessary but insufficient [Corning 2002:69]” (I hope that you have all recognized the definition of “holism”) to a checklist for a Agile Goals that contains questions like “is the goal manageable and measurable so that success can be determined?” You will therefore go back and forth between high level system or behavioral theories and practical management situations and practices. Despite its high theoretical content, the book is very enjoyable and easy to read and you shouldn’t be afraid by what could appear initially as a strong theoretical content.

Jurgen Appelo is so smart that he even make the own assessment of his book at the end, based on the quote that “all models are wrong but some are useful” He says “It makes no sense discussing which idea is wrong, because they all are. The real challenge is in finding which ideas is useful in what context”. I think that reading his book will provide you with a larger ideas’ toolkit and help you assess which ideas might be useful in a particular context for your project management journey.

Reference: “Management 3.0, Leading Agile Developers, Developing Agile Leaders”, Jurgen Appelo, Addison-Wesley, 391pages, IBSN 978-0-321-71247-9

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It is a bit silly that self-organization of teams is regularly hailed as a “best practice” in Agile software development. Self-organization cannot be a best practice. It is the “default practice” of any system, including teams. Not matter how you manage a team, there will be self-organization. People will discuss and agree on lunch meetings, folder structure, workplace territories, and birthday parties. Everything that the management does not constraint (and much that it attempts to) will self-organize. Humans have behaved that way for 200,000 years. But is what happens also happening in the “right direction?”

Doesn’t anticipation violate Agile? Anticipation is like alcohol. It is healthy when used in a small dose. But it is addictive and most people use far too much of it. Agile software development does not reject anticipation. But it tries to reduce it to the smallest possible amount, where it is still beneficial instead of harmful.

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