Saturday, June 13, 2015

Where do I start?

An overview of 3 books that have provided me some practical tools to experiment and learn how to manage a contemporary software development team.

I've been a Software Developer for the better part of my 20 years of professional experience.  I've recently taken on the role of "Manager" and quite frankly have little experience with Management.

So in place of experience I've been experimenting. I'll describe some of the "tools" I've been geeking out over that I've lifted from the following three books:
They've been absolutely invaluable and a source of inspiration in my daily work.  I've been able to create a decent toolkit which allows me to continuously experiment to gain experience.  If you are in a similar position, I hope the following articles to get your started with your experimentation.

Tribal Leadership - by David Logan

Dave Logan describes how all we naturally form "tribes", how this occurs in the workplace, and the 5 stages of Tribal Culture.

Here's his TED talk on the subject:

A simple read on the concepts:

As well there's a great 21 day challenge you can take that takes you through practical exercises to gain insight about yourself:

Management 3.0 - by Jurgen Appelo

In his book Management 3.0, Jurgen Appelo provides tools that really engage your team and increase collaboration.

I had the pleasure of meeting Jurgen Appelo at a conference here in Toronto and thanked him for my favourite tool "Delegation Poker".  It's a great tool to have a non-confrontational dialogue about authority.  It's very similar to the game of "Planning Poker" (If you're an Agile Junkie):

Another favourite is the "Kudo Box" which is a great way for peers to recognize each others contributions:

Art of Action - by Stephen Bungay

This book is the absolute best kept secret that my colleague (Brian Kierstead) at work has called "The Calculus behind Agile". I stumbled across it when looking for how Spotify learned how to increase Alignment, without sacrificing on Autonomy.

Here's an article on Spotify's agile engineering culture:

We had the pleasure of talking to Simon Fawkes, a management consultant who describes the core concepts within the book:

The video does a great job describing the "3 gaps", our usual reactions and how we should approach three gaps.

To get you introduced to the concept of "strategic intent" heres a great RSA video by David Marquet:


  1. Thanks for posting this Troy. I love the infographic from Spotify that shows the relationship between Autonomy and Alignment so clearly. Regards, Simon

    1. Special thanks to you Simon.. if it weren't for your youtube video, I don't know if we would have found the "Art of Action" :)