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Evan's Book Reviews: New Ways of Thinking

A history of business (agility)

Evan Leybourn

March 3, 2018

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I read a lot - not all of it related to agile or business management, but enough. Below are some of the important books that have shaped my thinking (and writing). Not all of them a great (as you can see from my ranking), but they all contain some interesting ideas. This group of reviews will focus on those books that relate to business agility. 

This post contains Amazon affilliate links.

Reinventing Organisations

Author: Frederik Laloux

This is the book I wish I had written. If you're looking for some great case studies and a very seductive description of the future of agile organisations - look no further. It's a comprehensive examination of fluid & agile organisational structures intertwined with case studies of organisations that have adopted them. If you read this book, you'll start to think of organisations as organic ecosystems rather than machines. I particularly like the elegance of the organisation classification model, though Laloux acknowledges the complexity and that organisations may exist within multiple classifications at the same time.

It's not perfect by any means - it doesn't really delve into some of the structural problems that some of these organisational models face and there's an overly spiritual language for my liking, but these are minor quibbles.

Evan's rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Buy a copy: Amazon link


Wirearchy

Authors: The Wirearchy Community

If you're interested in the formation of social networks (either organic or structural) within organisations, this is a great book. I particularly found the chapter showing the step-by-step visualisation of a traditional heirachy to a network organisation.

Evan's rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Download a copy: Wirearchy website


Tame your Work Flow

How Dr. Goldratt of “The Goal” would apply the Theory of Constraints to rethink knowledge-work management (TameFlow)

Authors: Steve Tendon and Daniel Doiron

Make sure you set aside enough time to properly read and appreciate this book. It is clear that Steve and Daniel have a deep understanding and respect for Eli Goldratt’s work. Because of this (and perhaps only because of this), they have extended the concepts laid out in The Goal for knowledge work in a way that is both profound and practical. I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to point out the wealth of material on Mental Models in this book. When I first spoke to Steve about this topic many years ago, I don’t think I fully understood the importance of the topic. However, over the last few years, this concept has been reinforced many times and I can say with some clarity that I really respect and enjoy the depth of material you share in the book.

I remember reviewing Steve’s original TameFlow booklet (below) and I loved both the importance and simplicity of the concept. At the time, I suggested that more evidence was needed to support some of the claims. This new book delivers that in spades.

This is a must read for anyone who wants to develop their understanding of flow, Kanban, lean, throughput accounting, and business agility. No matter how much you think you know, this book will expand your knowledge.

Evan's rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Get the book: Authors website


Essence of Tameflow

Author: Steve Tendon

This booklet is a novel examination of the necessary business structures and engagement model for the modern enterprise. TameFlow is a very simple explanation (although using rather flowery language) of aligning individuals to common goals across 4 flows (operational, financial, informational and psychological). What's missing from the book is the extraordinary evidence to back up some of the extraordinary claims case studies and more depth on how to align the flows would be helpful for the introductory reader.

Evan's rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Buy a copyAmazon link


Holacracy

Holacracy: The New Management System for a Rapidly Changing World

Author: Brian J. Robertson

From the back of the book: "Holacracy distributes authority and decision-making throughout an organization, and defines people not by hierarchy and titles, but by roles. Holacracy creates organizations that are fast, agile, and that succeed by pursuing their purpose, not following a dated and artificial plan."

Holacracy is one of those concepts that you either love or hate. It either works for you, or it doesn't. If you are in the former camp, then this book gives you most of what you need to understand it. 

Evan's rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Buy a copyAmazon link

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