Tag Archives: review

Review: Out of the maze

9780525537298-480x600Spencer Johnson wrote Out of the maze, the sequel to the #1 bestseller and global phenomenon Who moved my cheese?

This stunning little sequel will help you unlock the riddle of whatever mazes you may be facing in your own life. And not only your own life. Think about the VUCA world where business agility is key. Things that may have been true yesterday suddenly are no longer true today.

In this little book we follow Hem (the one in Who moved my cheese? who believed that the old situation would return) and his new friend, Hope, on their journey, by thinking outside the box, to find their way out of the maze. Believes are put central in this fable. It’s not only cheese you can eat; an apple will work too and when they are gone you have to choose new beliefs. During their journey we learn the following particularities about beliefs:

  • Notice your beliefs
  • Don’t believe everything you think
  • Let go of what isn’t working
  • Look outside the maze
  • Choose a new belief
  • There are no limits to what you can believe

the way out of the mazeBeliefs are powerful things. A single stubborn belief can take down an entire company (Kodak?, Nokia?, BlackBerry?). People believe that how things have always been is how they’ll always be. But it never is.

You can read this little book in less than an hour and it gives you a multitude of hours to notice, exam and test your own beliefs and not necessarily discard them to find the way out of your own maze.

To order: Out of the maze

Nederlandse versie: Breek los uit het doolhof

Spenser Johnson passed away in July 2017.


Review: PRINCE2 2017 Edition Practitioner Courseware – English / – Nederlands

Voor de Nederlandse versie van de courseware naar beneden scrollen.

9789401802253-480x600This book PRINCE2 2017 Edition Practitioner Courseware – English was created by Douwe Brolsma and Mark Kouwenhoven and can be used as a replacement for a syllabus that training organizations provide for each attendee when following a PRINCE2 practitioner training class.

What do we get:

  • A timetable for a four-day training class with the exam at day 4 (starting with an overview and the principles, the project lifecycle including PRINCE2 processes and themes, tailoring.)
  • A print of all slides to be used during the training class. In the slides you find all the figures as provided by AXELOS, the preferred content of all products including references to the official manual
  • Two PRINCE2 Foundation sample papers from AXELOS (Question Booklet, Answers and rationales. 1 hour, 60 questions, to pass you need 33 correct answers) to be used at the start of the training class
  • The PRINCE2 Practitioner Examination Specification from AXELOS (learning outcomes, examination design and the weightings (number of questions) across learning outcomes, assessment criteria and ‘Bloom’s level’
  • Two PRINCE2 Practitioner Sample Papers from AXELOS (Scenario Booklet, Question Booklet, Answers and rationales. 2 hours 30 min, 68 questions, to pass you need 38 correct answers, open book, you can use the Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2)
  • 14 assignments to be used throughout the training with different types of exercises (create a product, explain a role, perform an assessment)

Conclusion: The courseware contains all the needed material for a training but could be of much more value when each slide is accompanied with an explanation of the content of the slide. In that case you could use the material as reference material after the training class/exam too.

To order: PRINCE2 2017 Edition Practitioner Courseware – English

Recensie: PRINCE2 2017 editie Practitioner Courseware – Nederlands

9789401803458-480x600Dit boek PRINCE2 2017 Edition Practitioner Courseware – Nederland is gemaakt door Douwe Brolsma en Mark Kouwenhoven en kan gebruikt worden als vervanging van een syllabus zoals die door opleidingsorganisaties aan elke deelnemer wordt gegeven bij het volgen van een PRINCE2 Practitioner cursus.

Wat krijgen we:

  • Een tijdschema voor een vierdaagse training inclusief examen op dag 4 (de training begint met een overzicht en de principes, vervolgens volgen we de levenscyclus van een project met daarbinnen de verschillende PRINCE2-processen en thema’s, en het op maat maken)
  • Een print van alle PowerPoint slides die tijdens de training gebruikt kunnen worden. In de slides vindt u alle figuren/tekeningen zoals verstrekt door AXELOS en de gewenste inhoud van alle producten inclusief verwijzingen naar de officiële handleiding
  • Twee PRINCE2 Foundation voorbeeld examens van AXELOS (vragenboekje, antwoorden en toelichting, 1 uur, 60 vragen, om te slagen hebt u 33 correcte antwoorden nodig) die gebruikt kunnen worden aan het begin van de training
  • De PRINCE2 Practitioner Examination Specification van AXELOS (eindtermen, examenontwerp en de wegingen (aantal vragen) over leerresultaten, beoordelingscriteria en ‘Bloom’s level’
  • Twee PRINCE2 Practitioner voorbeeld examens van AXELOS (scenario-boekje, vraag-boekje, antwoorden en toelichting) 2 uur 30 min, 68 vragen, om door te geven hebt u 38 correcte antwoorden nodig, open boek, u kunt het beheren van succesvolle projecten met PRINCE2 gebruiken)
  • 14 opdrachten die tijdens de training gebruikt kunnen worden met verschillende soorten oefeningen (een managementproduct maken, een rol uitleggen, een beoordeling uitvoeren)

Conclusie: het cursusmateriaal bevat al het benodigde materiaal voor een training, maar kan van veel meer waarde zijn wanneer elke slide vergezeld gaat van een uitleg van de inhoud van die slide. In dat geval zou je het materiaal ook kunnen gebruiken als referentiemateriaal na de training / examen.

Om te bestellen: PRINCE2 2017 Edition Practitioner Courseware – Nederlands

Review: The culture map – Decoding how people think, lead, and get things done across cultures

9781610392761-480x600Looking back at my week in Tokyo with all its cultural differences, e.g. the punctuality, the group culture, the clean streets but no garbage cans, the mouth caps to protect others and yourself, Japanese people skipping a lot of words, and to understand them you need to know the context, et cetera, I think reading The culture map – Decoding how people think, lead, and get across cultures written by Erin Meyer was a good way to use my time when I flew back at an altitude of 38000 ft from Tokyo, Narita airport to Amsterdam, Schiphol.

It’s an easy to read and entertaining book with numerous examples from her own experience to understand how cultural patterns of behavior and belief frequently impact our perceptions (what we see), cognitions (what we think), and actions (what we do). The purpose of this book is to improve your ability to understand these three aspects of culture and to improve your effectiveness in dealing with them. If you want to build and manage global teams that can work together successfully this book will be a great tool with lots of strategies and advices to support you.

The author developed an eight-scale model to help to improve your effectiveness. Each of the eight scales represents one key area that managers must be aware of, showing how cultures vary along a spectrum from one extreme to its opposite.

The eight scales are (see the figure with Japan and the Netherlands plotted on these scales):

  • Communicating: low-context vs. high-context
  • Evaluating: direct negative feedback vs. indirect negative feedback
  • Leading: egalitarian vs. hierarchical
  • Deciding: consensual vs. top-down
  • Trusting: task-based vs. relationship-based
  • Disagreeing: confrontational vs. avoids confrontation
  • Scheduling: linear-time vs. flexible-time
  • Persuading: principles-first vs applications-first (does not plot all world cultures as the concept of applications-first and principles-first only applies to western environments. Asian cultures, for example, are Holistic and neither Applications-first nor Principles first)

Schermafdruk 2018-11-11 15.06.57The culture map (source: www.erinmeyer.com/tools)

When examining how people from different cultures relate to one another, what matters is not the absolute position of either culture on the scale but rather the relative position of two cultures. It is this relative positioning that determines how people view each other. E.g. Japanese people see Dutch people deciding more top-down. But if you compare deciding between the Netherlands and Belgium, the Netherlands are more consensual and Belgium more top-down.

Each scale is described in a separate chapter with many, many examples to explain the different extremes from the spectrum and strategies and actionable advices how to cope with these people. Sometimes very specific rules or behavior are given. E.g. the “Law of Jante” (leading, Denmark),Ringisystem (deciding, Japan), Guanxi(trusting, China).

Mapping the communication scale against the evaluating scale gives four quadrants. Particular cultures can be found in each of these quadrants and the book explains different strategies for effectively dealing with people from each.

Mapping the disagreeing scale against a second scale that measures how emotionally expressive a culture is will help to understand that emotional expressiveness is not the same thing as comfort in expressing open disagreement.

To order: The culture map – Decoding how people think, lead, and get across cultures

Review The change mindset – Survival kit for professionals in change

9789082935004-480x600A bookazine build around seven chapters. About the changing world and a changing mindset and the change mindset Yes … And … Act … we get many short stories, anecdotes, tips, exercises, and references to some awesome, related videos (see some at the bottom of this post) and a lot of references to books. In every chapter the spotlight on a thought leader, entrepreneur or specialist.

  1. A changing world. When the world goes bananas … The world of today (VUCA, 1 in 4 people hate their job, think about the major barrier to success: changing mindset and attitude, change is the only constant, complexity rules, happy is productive), the world of yesterday (from Reactive … to … Relax. Everything is under control), and the world of tomorrow (from Proactive … to … Relax. Nothing is under control). Professions of tomorrow: e.g. digital detox therapist, organ harvester and many more.
  2. Ladders & Bananas. Human beings love to think in patterns. Placing a ladder over a banana peel to avoid people slipping on it is not the most efficient solution. However, if you look at organizations, it is strange that they have built so many ladders in their structures and systems (red tape, bureaucracy). Seven solid reasons to build ladders are explained. Depending on your role you would solve the banana peel problem in your own way. Many different roles and solutions are given e.g. the scrum master or cleaning lady. And be aware of different shapes of fears. Three kinds of fears that often pop up: fear of the unknown, fear of different opinions and fear of failure.
  3. A changing mindset. Do you choose a fixed or growth mindset? You always have a choice. How are you making your (conscious) choices? Life is a matter of choices, and every choice you make makes you!
  4. The change mindset. The growth mindset is a mindset that is open to change. Three crucial ingredients play an important role if you wish to stay agile. ‘Yes’ stands for positive thinking. ‘Act’ is about getting into action and experimenting. ‘And’ means exploring different views and stimulate your imagination.
  5. Yes. Suspend your judgement is the first ingredient to allow change. Watch out for idea killers and use the 3-minute rule to triple your number of ideas. Understand when you can say ‘no’ and when you can say ‘yes, and’. What are you willing to struggle for, or to suffer to realize your dream?
  6. And. Switching perspectives is a great way to broaden your own reality. Flip your perspective from a problem to an opportunity. We get 21 activities to broaden your perspective and 7 creativity methods to generate ideas.
  7. Act. You can have lots of ideas but without action their value diminishes quickly. Human beings operate on the principle (“The banana principle”) of the least effort – given several paths, we choose the easiest. Start with a BaNaNo action, a first small step, to check if the idea or project had potential. To change behavior, pay attention to nudges (small easy and inexpensive changes) and the intrinsic motivation. Use nearlings (something new that was done with the right intentions, which had not (yet) led to the right result) to create learnings.

bananaConclusion: A fun to read and beautifully illustrated bookazine. It’s inspiring, pragmatic, and it opens your mind and gives lots of ideas and some food for thought (and it inspired me to create some ppt slides to be used during talks and training classes) and it offers a great set of video links. Looking at all those videos you can ask yourself if an ‘onlookazine’ (an online bookazine) wouldn’t even be a better format because you have to view them, many are awesome! The banana is key in this bookazine and be aware that 65% of your genes are the same as a banana. I would say a must read and I finish with a quote from Lewis Carroll “In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take“.

To order: The change mindset

As said the bookazine contains references to more than 20 interesting videos. I selected a few:

The butterfly circus (awesome movie on unleasing potential)

Panyee FC (believe in your giga dreams)

27 Creativity & innovation techniques explained

Review AGILE NXT – Insights and foresights for your next step in agile

agilenxtA new colorful magazine from Xebia, developed by using their four new agile marketing Ps Purpose, Product, People and Process, to help you with your next step in your agile journey.

Many articles to bring you up to speed in the world of agile development:

  • Doing DevOps the DASA way: the six DASA DevOps principles and DASA qualification information
  • Product Leadership for the third wave (of agile adaption): successful POs build trust and a safe environment, transfer resistance into commitment, and switch between leadership styles according to the stakeholder field, urgency or importance. They learn how to own the product and nurture it to fruition
  • Mixed human-robo agile teams: the future is now: robo-advisors, teams focus on creativity and solving complex problems
  • Kick-start your agile team with design sprint: a five-day process with real customers that includes: define the main problem, forming ideas, designing solutions, prototyping and validating with real customers
  • Leadership’s role in business agility: driven by flexibility, focus, flow and feedback
  • Using brain science to boost your scrum events: applying one or more of the six trumps to enhance learning during your scrum events are movement trumps sitting, talking trump listening, images trump words, writing trump reading, shorter trumps longer and different trumps same
  • Yesterday’s competitive advantage is today’s industry standard: what questions need to be answered to embrace the next phase of your agile maturity
  • Design thinking: get to the heart of what the customer wants: The five stages of a design thinking process are empathize, define, ideate, prototype and test
  • Cultivating a culture for engineers with agile: Four critical ramifications of today’s digital age fueling the war for IT talent and the increasing demand for engineers: product digitalization, mass customization, immediate customer feedback and reduced cost of entry
  • Recommended reading for every agile leader: six knowledge areas that are critical to successful agile leadership are transformational reorganization, system thinking and mental models, ownership and responsibility, scaling through minimalization, group dynamics and a culture for creativity
  • The art of personal mastery: personal mastery shifts the focus to learning and improving ourselves and others
  • What makes a team a winning team: leaders who facilitate alignment and stimulate autonomy and improve team strength with a (management) drives workshop and a feedback workshop
  • Scrum@Scale: a meta-framework for strategic agility: set up a leadership action team to establish the executive metaScrum that prioritizes all agile initiatives and deliver shippable product increments at the end of every sprint, or sooner, by employing the Scrum of Scrums as a network of teams
  • Agile coaches prepare for the new wave: The 6 traits of new wavers are scrum experience, self-oriented, value work-life balance, value purpose and the need for speed, internet savvy and value and master feedback. The 8 do’s & don’ts of coaching, motivating, teaching a new waver are explained
  • The art of leadership agility: How can I be agile myself (flexible, adaptable and responsive) as a leader, in order to support organizational agility
  • Mindshift to purpose: our need to be part of something bigger: a well-defined purpose is inspiring, concise and observable. To make a purpose stick: believe it yourself, reinforce it often, reward the right behavior and share successes and build a movement, on purpose
  • A picture is worth a thousand words: accelerate your transformation with visualization: Five ways to speed up agile transformations: sketching skills: find hidden and essential drawing talent, travel journal based on pictures, talking pictures: shared complexity, style: congruent visualizations, and communication media: initiation of co-creation
  • Unboxing the CoCreate agile scaling model: scale to be small. The triple-A’s of the CoCreate model: Agility, Autonomy and Alignment. The model focusses on developing value and people while performance, growth, products, culture and adaption are its critical core components
  • Agility without agile: agility in practice, without using the traditional (agile) frameworks and using non-traditional cutting-edge technology to manufacture high-quality, custom-made, bespoke mannequins for the show floors and windows
  • 50 shades of “no”: product owners seem to understand the role, but they don’t know how to respond to all the requests and questions that come with it, or how to handle the stakeholders
  • Engineering culture: the unintentional side effect of agile transformation (and how to prevent it): upper layers of culture: artifacts and espoused values and behaviors and the deeper, invisible layer: basic underlying assumptions. 5 seeds for cultivating a sustainable agile culture are described
  • re.vers.ify: the need for agility in the face of perplexity: complexity turns into perplexity, an inability to act, an individual or collective state of being overwhelmed by complexity, permanently
  • Digital transformation gets real: adapt or die, disruption in action, embrace AI, robotics and AR. In the next decade 40% of today’s companies on the S&P 500 will be gone
  • Shared leadership: the product owner as mini-CEO: to get the most (and best) out of the product owner role: communicate top-down distribution of power and mandates explicitly and as the product owner, accept handovers of power and mandates explicitly and ensure product owners are qualified to execute power and mandates and that they receive the appropriate training
  • Evolutionary or revolutionary change: knowing the organizational end-state: fact or illusion? Evolutionary change: move away from where you are now
  • Find and bind talent with a flexible shell: a flexible shell can maintain the stability within the team while at the same time create an opportunity for those who want to grow more than a single team would allow.

Curious to read the magazine? Download or request a printed copy at: AGILE NXT


Review: The tipping point – How little things can make a big difference

9780349113463-480x600See for the Dutch version Het beslissende moment

The tipping point – How little things can make a big difference is written by Malcolm Gladwell. In this book we get a multitude of examples in which the author shows what it means to reach a tipping point. If we try to sell an idea, attitude or product, we want or need to help our listeners, our customers, our employees. We try to change them in some small yet critical respect, to convince them, to persuade them to reach a critical mass so that the goal comes closer. And that can be the acceptance of an idea, a changed attitude or the increased sales of a product.

To achieve the change the author uses the three rules of epidemics: the law of the few, the stickiness factor and the power of context.

The law of the few shows that we need both connectors, mavens and salesmen. The connectors can bring the world and know lots of people. Whoever you want to reach, in a maximum of six steps, you can reach that person from your network. The mavens are accumulators of knowledge and brokers in information. Mavens are solvers of both their own problems and those of others. You use salesmen to persuade others where the word of mouth is still the most important form of human communication.

Tipping point (QRC EN, 181007) v1.0To download: Tipping point (QRC EN, 181007) v1.0

To penetrate the message, the product, or attitude (The stickiness factor) a messenger is needed that brings a memorable and contagious message. The message or advice must be practical as well as personal.

Finally, the power of the context shows that the sensitiveness to the message depends on change and the times at which and the places where they occur. Within a group of up to 150 people (the Dunbar number) it is possible to know everyone. To create an contagious movement you often have to create many small movements first (the paradox of the epidemic). The theory of broken windows can be used here too. A (social) epidemic or event can be tipped, by tinkering with the smallest details of the immediate environment.

Conclusion: The book reads smoothly and offers appealing examples of (social) epidemics, suicide, smoking, Sesame Street, Blue’s Clues, the Ya-Ya sisters, the rise and fall of the crime in New York. The author knows how to reach a turning point in a striking way and shows that one creative person can change the world. While reading, it becomes clear why this book is recommended literature within SAFe to support the tipping point at the beginning of the SAFe implementation roadmap.

To order: The tipping point – How little things can make a big difference


Review: Tribal Leadership

9780061251320-480x600Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright wrote the book Tribal Leadership – Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization.

We probable are all familiar with Tuckman’s stages of group development and this book describes a model to explain how tribes (small company, 20-150 people, Dunbar’s number) or a tribe of tribes (large company) can or have to follow the five tribal stages to become a high performing tribe or thriving organization.

In the first stage we see people cluster together, and their behaviour expresses despairing hostility, such as in a gang (communication: “life sucks”).

In the second tribal stage we see a person separate from others who seem to have some power that they lack and their behaviour is characteristic of being apathetic victims (communication: “my life sucks”).

In the third stage we see a person who is connected to others in a series of two-person relationships, where they attempt to outperform one another and striving for dominance (communication: “I’m great”).

QRC Tribal leadershipTo download: QRC Tribal leadership

The fourth and fifth tribal stages are the places to be. In the fourth stage, the person forms structures called triads, in which they build values-based relationships between others and established a noble cause. When people at stage four cluster together, they radiate tribal pride (communication: “we’re great”). The last stage shares the same characteristics of stage four, except that there is no “they”. As a result, these people form ever-growing networks with anyone whose values resonate with their own (communication: “life is great”). Once the situation changes, the culture regresses to stage four, where it can move forward once a new opportunity arises or is engineered.

The book contains four parts:

  • The first part focusses on the tribal leadership system. What are corporate tribes and the five tribal stages.
  • In Part II we get an explanation what your journey as a leader could look like, leading others through the stages, starting in stage one – on a verge of a meltdown, via stage two where we see disconnected and disengaged people and stage three, the wild, wild west. And finally you must have your own the tribal leadership epiphany, your own awakening, before you can make the step into stage four to establish tribal leadership.
  • Part III describes what it means to own tribal leadership and stabilize stage four. Core values and a noble cause are essential as well as triads and networking. This part ends with a guide on strategy starting with the core values and noble cause, what we want (outcomes), what we have (assets) and what we will do (behaviours) as well as test questions.
  • Part IV, the last part, gives insights in vital work communities.

In every chapter we get coaching tips and technical notes and many, many real life cases to give in-depth insights. For every stage we get a summary and leverage points for a person in that stage and success indicators for you as a tribal leader.

Conclusion: Great book to understand the dynamics of organizational behaviour and what it means to build high performing tribes or thriving organization and become a real tribe leader. It’s not an easy read but at the end you have many real life cases to help you to make your next step when building or optimizing productivity of your organization or tribe.

To order: Tribal Leadership

On their website you can download a lot of tools: www.culturesync.net