Book review: The Agility Shift

9781629560700-480x600Pamela Meyer is the author of the book ‘The Agility Shift. Create Agile and Effective Leaders, Teams, and Organizations’. Not a book about an agile framework but a guide to help organisations and their leaders and employees to make a shift to the right in terms of Bob Marshall’s right shifting model to become more effective, to become more agile!

The book is divided in three parts. Part one covers the understanding and dynamics of the agility shift by explaining what and why, by weaving the relation web for agility and discovering the five dynamics of the agility shift. Part two explains what it means to make the agility shift at all levels of the system. Talking about the agile leader, the agile team and the agile organisation. Part three focusses on putting agility into work. How can you shift to agile learning and development and recruiting, reinforcing, recognizing and retaining your agile talent?

Agility shift can be summarized by the three C’s: Agility Competence, Agility Capacity and Agility Confidence and is first and foremost a shift in mind-set. A shift from the false comfort of “a plan” to achieving a state of readiness to find the opportunity in the unexpected. To build this readiness you can make use of your own Relational Web.


To download the QRC The Relational Web: The agility shift web

Becoming an agile leader asks for a leadership mind-set for agility, whole-person agility and learning agility. To build a team make use of lessons from improvement, high-stake and development teams: work with the same understanding of the givens, agree to the givens, practice gift giving, practice finding the game, provide opportunities for interaction, make communication and coordination expectations explicit, expect role elasticity and learning agility, develop resource awareness, practice rapid prototyping: fail faster, learn quicker, work at a sustainable pace and capacity, create an agile manifesto for your team.

When agile leadership and the first teams are in place you can start co-creating the agile organisation by weaving the organisational relational web (create groups that foster employee camaraderie, maximize your relational web potential, and improve the proximity between members of your relational web), Structuring for the agility shift (create opportunities to identify the bare spots, get input on barriers and enablers, and resist the urge to formalize) and las but not least expand engagement to build capacity for decision making (empowerment) and converge planning and action to maximize your organizational agility.

The last part explains what the shift means for agile learning and development and recruiting, reinforcing, recognizing, and retaining your agile talent. You get an overview of competencies, skills and practices and performance indicators as well as a helping aid for recruiting for agility with sample conversation topics/scenarios and questions and tips to listen and look for specific performance indicators.

Conclusion: No matter what agile framework you are using, this book will bring you above the level of framework techniques and gives you helpful insights to become more agile. A must read for agile leads!

To buy: The Agility Shift

Book review: Together is Better

9200000051782738Most people know Simon Sinek from one of the most watched TED talks of all time (Start with Why). He wrote a nice little inspirational book ‘Together is Better’ and as you can imagine he didn’t do it alone. Ethan M. Aldridge created fantastic illustrations to tell the story of three friends. In this story, these three friends have moments of happiness but they live in the shadow of the “king of the playground.” This king cares mostly about himself and his own status and leads through fear. As a result, the other kids stick to themselves for fear of being singled out for attention.

The author uses this story as a metaphor for organizations where the “king of the playground” is the boss.

You get many quotes, one-liners, axioms and anecdotes expressing different situations in an organization and probably you will recognize many of them. This booklet will give you food for thought and suggestions to move forward. The author Talks about vision, collaboration, inspiration, trust, building teams, and leadership. For example, we talk nowadays a lot about agile teams. Give this one from the book a thought:

“A team is not a group of people who work together.

A team is a group of people who trust each other”

If you are looking for some inspiration for yourself, or maybe for a team retrospective when the team is not a team yet or if you are looking for a nice giveaway this is the book.

Together is better

Simon Sinek’s favorite scene.

To buy: Together is Better

In Dutch: Samen is Beter

Book review: That’s Not How We Do It Here!

9780399563942-200x300John Kotter and Holger Rathgeber have once again managed to make the complicated matter of dual systems in organizations (see Kotter’s book ‘XLR8 – Accelerate‘) accessible in a parable for a wide audience. In this book, ‘That’s Not How We Do It Here! A Story About How Organizations Rise and Fall – and Can Rise Again’ we follow a colony of 150 meerkats in the Kalahari, a hot, dry region of southern Africa.

Initially we follow the tightly run, highly hierarchical meerkats colony where everything takes place in accordance with prescribed procedures. If there are no threats, things run smoothly in the colony but when the colony is plagued by drought, resources run out and when they are attacked by hostile predators, the colony is powerless. Ideas or experiments are not appreciated, in fact directly crushed by saying ” That’s not how we do it here”.

Two young, smart adventurous meerkats, Nadia and Ayo decide to look outside for a solution to save the colony. Initially they found some liberated or dislocated colonies that faces problems even bigger and they are not welcome. Looks like that having rules and procedures has positive aspects too.

Eventually, they end up at a small innovative colony led by an inspirational leader. In this colony, there is room for new ideas and experiments. Initiatives are worked out by Spontaneously formed new temporary teams, and as a result the colony is flourishing. In this self-organising colony, they can live without standard procedures. This success has not gone unnoticed. An increasing number of meerkats align themselves with this colony, and this does not remain without consequences. Where issues in a small team were spontaneously picked up and solved, in a large colony this asks for rules and procedures.

This brings Nadia to the clever idea to connect both organizational structures together (The dual system in the book ‘XLR8 – Accelerate’). The hierarchical organization for all standard matters that should be settled in a colony and an organizational structure with temporary teams to experiment and find solutions to problems. Nadia returns to its former colony and brings it into practice there.

On the site you can download material (manual, PowerPoint) to start a discussion within your own company.

To order: That’s Not How We Do It Here!

boekrecensie: Zo doen we dat hier niet!

9789047009603-480x600John Kotter en Holger Rathgeber zijn er wederom in geslaagd om ingewikkelde materie, in dit geval over duale systemen in organisaties (zie Kotter’s boek ‘Versnellen’) in een parabel voor een breed publiek toegankelijk te maken. In dit boek ‘Zo doen we dat hier niet! Succesvol zijn en blijven in tijden van verandering volgen we een kolonie van 150 stokstaartjes in Kalahari, een warm en droog gebied in het zuiden van Afrika.

In eerste instantie zien we een strak geleide, sterk hiërarchische stokstaartjes kolonie waarbinnen alles volgens voorgeschreven richtlijnen en procedures plaatsvindt. Zolang er geen bedreigingen zijn verloopt het in de kolonie naar wens maar op het moment dat de kolonie geteisterd wordt door droogte, voorraden opraken en ze aangevallen worden door vijandige roofdieren staat de kolonie machteloos. Ideeën of experimenten worden niet gewaardeerd, sterker nog worden direct de kop ingedrukt met de opmerking “zo doen we dat hier niet “.

Twee jonge, slimme avontuurlijke stokstaartjes, Nadia en Ayo besluiten op zoek te gaan naar een oplossing om de kolonie te redden. In eerste instantie komen ze bij een andere meer vrijgevochten of ontwrichte kolonies waar de problemen nog groter zijn en zij zelf niet welkom zijn. Het hebben van regels en procedures heeft dus ook positieve kanten.

Uiteindelijk belanden ze bij een kleine innovatieve kolonie die geleid wordt door een inspirerend leider. In deze kolonie is ruimte voor nieuwe ideeën en experimenten. Worden spontaan nieuwe tijdelijke teams gevormd als een initiatief uitgewerkt en handen en voeten gegeven moet worden zodat de kolonie floreert. Standaard procedures zijn niet nodig. De kolonie is zelf organiserend. Dit succes blijft niet onopgemerkt. Steeds meer stokstaartjes sluiten zich bij deze kolonie aan en dat blijft niet zonder gevolgen. Waar in een klein team problemen spontaan konden worden opgepakt en opgelost vraagt zo’n grote kolonie toch regels en procedures.

Dit brengt Nadia tot het slimme idee om beide organisatie structuren met elkaar te verbinden (Duaal systeem in het boek ‘Versneller’). De hiërarchische organisatie voor alle standaard zaken die in een kolonie geregeld moeten worden en organisatievorm met tijdelijke teams om te experimenteren en oplossingen vinden voor problemen. Met dit beeld keert Nadia terug naar haar oude kolonie en brengt het daar in de praktijk.

Op de site is verder materiaal (handleiding, PowerPoint) te downloaden om de discussie binnen je eigen bedrijf aan te gaan.


A new kid on the PM methodology block: The Half Double Methodology

halfdoubleIn my last review (How to DO projects), I found a reference to a new Danish initiative “Project Half Double” A journey to conceptualize a new project management methodology through research and the collection of best practice methods. Furthermore, to experiment with the methodology on selected real life projects and gather learnings – and in the process, engage a leading community of project practitioners.

Looks like I must update my lost in standards article again.

At this moment, you can find on the corresponding website an explanation of the methodology, many, many youtube movies, a book in progress (the thirst three chapters can be downloaded (great layout, easy to read, nice content), example projects and a community to co-create this methodology.

looks like a promising methodology making use of best practises from the traditional as well as lean-agile world. So it can be used in a hybrid project environment.


Review: How to DO projects. A Nordic flavour to managing projects

2017-02-24-17-28-56I received the book ‘How to DO projects. A Nordic flavor to managing projects’ written by Joana Geraldi, Cristian Thuesen, Josef Oehmen and Verena Stingl. Great to see that the authors used one of my blogs (they asked upfront). The book contains my Lost in standards overview of project management methods. The book will prepare students of the Danish Technical University for the ISO21500 certification exam but others can benefit too.

The book brings you inspiration to alternative project management practices. The book gives you insights how to get into action mode, how to work together with your project team to achieve a meaningful purpose.

The book contains three views:

  • The ISO 21500: 2012, Guidance on project management standard
  • The Nordic ‘flavour’ to add on top of the ISO 21500. Understanding, social relations and the development of future-oriented meaningful projects will empower the project team
  • Four perspectives (purpose, people, complexity, and uncertainty) and context to give you a solid foundation to develop your own recipe for projects compatible with ISO 21500 and the Nordic flavour.

The book is divided in 7 chapters. The first two chapters introduces the three views and elaborates on the definition of a project.

Chapter three explains the project, temporal and organizational context and the next four chapters explains the four perspectives: purpose, people, complexity, and uncertainty.

Every perspective is explained by an illustration, an introduction, key challenges and common mistakes, how to DO it, the relationship to the ISO 21500 standard including a generic explanation, and for each related ISO 21500 activity the purpose and documents/tools, the Nordic flavor and a summary.

dia1In the attached QRC (download QRC (pdf)) you can find the perspectives, what to do, Nordic flavor and key challenges and common mistakes. I added ISO 21500 4.3.5 Control project work to the Uncertainty perspective because I think the authors missed this one. The book ends with a few examples of recipes.


If you want to understand what it means to bring ISO 21500 into practice this book is a good read. By moving away from the standard process view as represented in the ISO 21500, the setup of the book with the context and the four perspectives ‘forces’ you to really tailor the project management practices into your own recipe for your project.

Book review: The DevOps Handbook

9781942788003-200x300Gene Kim, Jez Humble, Patrick Debois and John Willis are the authors of the book The DevOps Handbook. how to create world-class agility, reliability, & security in technology organizations. If you look at the cover you see some similarities with The Phoenix Project. A novel about IT, DevOps, and helping your business win. And that is not a coincidence because Gene Kim is one of the co-authors of this book too.

Where The Phoenix Project is a business novel explaining the journey to set up a DevOps team, this book gives you the theoretical background, and the tools to build and use the DevOps philosophy by integrating product management, development, QA, IT operations, and information security to elevate your company.

The book is divided into four blocks: The first block (part I) introduces the three ways: The principles of flow, feedback and continual learning and experimentation. The second block (part II) explains where to start a DevOps movement in your organization. The third block (parts III-V) describes the technical practices of the three ways. The last block (part VI) discusses the technological practices of integrating information security, change management, and compliance.

In part II we see what it means to select the value streams with the most sympathetic and innovative groups to start with the DevOps transformation, analyse those value streams by creating a value stream map, and design the organization (functional, matrix or market oriented), fund services and products and not projects and create loosely-coupled architecture to dramatically improve the outcomes.

The first way describes the architecture and principles that enable the fast flow of work from left to right, from Dev to Ops to deliver quickly and safely, value to customers. Start with a single repository of truth for the entire system, make infrastructure easier to rebuild than to repair, enable fast and reliable continuous integration and automated testing and start with low-risk releases. Include running in production-like environments in your DoD.

The second way addresses the reciprocal fast and constant feedback from right to left by implementing feedback loops and use shared goals spanning Dev and Ops to improve the health of the entire value stream. The authors provide insights in telemetry from processes, behaviour and production issues, audit issues and security breaches that enables seeing and solving problems. Next we see, how we can integrate user research and feedback, peer reviews and pair programming and what it means when integrating hypothesis-driven development and A/B testing into our daily work?

The third way helps to create a culture of learning and experimentation. What can you learn from incidents, and how others can learn from your own learning by creating repositories and sharing learnings. How can you enable and inject learning into daily work by establishing a learning culture, have post-mortem meetings after accidents occur and communicate them, decreasing incident tolerances and organize game days to rehearse failures? And make sure you capture organizational knowledge by using e.g. chat rooms and chat bots.

In the last part, the three ways are extended by using them to achieve information security goals by making security a part of everyone’s job, by integrating preventive controls into a repository, by integrating security with the deployment pipeline, and integrating deployment activities with the change approval processes and reducing reliance on separating of duty.


If you want to start a DevOps movement, start with The Phoenix Project to make yourself enthusiastic about DevOps and continue with this book to get the real technical practices to make your DevOps a success. When buying this book, you will get a unique one-time access code to the DevOps X-ray individual assessment to benchmark your own performance against industry-wide data.

To buy: The DevOps Handbook