Expand Your Knowledge

Throughout our classes and seminars, we frequently reference other notable authors’ works and recommend them to students and participants interested in going even further with their education.  From Systems Theory, to Agile and Scrum, to Manufacturing, to Psychology, the books below represent some of our favorite works that have shaped and influenced our thinking and approach over the years.

Agile, Scrum & Flow

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Why we love it: Down from 19 pages to 14, the Scrum Framework might be one of the most significant shifts in how teams work this century.  Published in 1995, Scrum continues to be one of the most widely used frameworks for iteratively developing products.  Many people who use Scrum haven’t read actually read it, but this newer, condensed version adds more flexibility for those just starting out (or who need to go back and brush up).

Why we love it: In many ways, The Kanban “Blue Book” could be considered the Kanban Method’s equivalent of the “Scrum Guide.”  David J. Anderson dispels the commonly-held notion that Kanban is just about team boards, and that it is instead a launch pad for information-driven continuous improvement.  It contains numerous stories and anecdotes based on David’s personal experiences, and has gone on to become the platform upon which the “Kanban Method” has been built.

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Why we love it: The vast majority of books about Kanban focus on improving the flow of value to consumers by improving delivery.  In this book, Patrick Steyaert describes how evolving and improving the activities that occur from the moment work is requested, to just before work begins in earnest, can improve and increase quality, delivery frequency and customer satisfaction, all the while balancing demand with the capacity to deliver.

Why we love it: Team Topologies introduces “Conway’s Law,” which essentially states that the design of any system created by an organization will replicate the organization communication structure.  It is one of the few non-Kanban-specific books that connects delivery of products to the efficiency of the flow they follow in the creation process.  It focuses on teams as the fundamental building block of production, and proposes that the key in improving delivery and quality hinges upon the flow of information within those teams.

Systems Thinking & Science

Why we love it: Anyone interested in understanding variability within systems, particularly at scale, will find Chaos a worthwhile and enlightening read. If you’re only exposure to the science of chaos was the movie, Jurassic Park, expect to be pleasantly surprised. James Gleick takes the reader on a compelling journey through connections and patterns shared by an array of natural processes, some of them man-made, and highlights their unifying theme: variability, a.k.a. “Chaos.” This book was an “A-ha!” book that transformed our thinking about variability and randomness and how it applies to every level of our existence.

Why we love it: There are few books that do as great of a job introducing people to the science of systems, a.k.a. “Systems Thinking.”  For some, this book is transformative.  Few works are as compelling and effective at shining a light on how systems, despite what they are or produce, follow patterns reproduced across nature.  What’s more, it shows how many of the problems we face, personally all the way to globally, are examples of systemic failures and how, with the right attention and care, those failures can be solved to create positive outcomes.  A must read for everyone, from leaders to anyone looking for a fresh insight on how the world worlds beneath the surface.

Why we love it: This book approaches systems thinking in an almost “how-to” textbook.  It’s most pronounced highlights are, in particular, the “System Archetypes,” common patterns of systemic behaviors repeated throughout nature.  Expect a quick but effective crash course in system stories and a variety of diagrams.  The diagrams may not sound exciting, but we think you’ll see the power of being able to communication systemic behavior in a visual, easy-to-understand way.  It is not an entirely deep exploration of systemic patterns and their expression, but it is just enough to communicate the ideas to readers. 

People & Change

Why we love it:  It wouldn’t be inappropriate to have led this description with the “mind blown” emoji.  Not only will this book transform your thinking on the physiological connection between the “Brain, Mind, and Body,” Van der Kolt also explores the linkage between the logical and visceral parts of our brain.  The exploration of how trauma shapes the human brain is powerful, and gives powerful insights on why people are so resistant to change. 

Why we love it: Korn Ferry is a global consulting firm that helps organizations design their leadership structures, create role clarity, and offer professional development resources. The FYI book (aka the development bible) helps you identify your strengths and opportunities with clear roadmaps on how to take your strengths to the next level or help you grow in the areas you tend to struggle. They have defined 38 competencies and 10 career stallers/stoppers which includes case studies, practical guidance, job suggestions, and a varied menu of resources based on your preferred method of learning. If you are looking to build your skills or are responsible to help others grow, you won’t find a better “how-to” guide than the FYI book.

 
 

 

 

Why we love it: As a talent selection companion to the FYI book, Korn Ferry’s Interview Architect guide will help you create structured and inclusive interview processes. This guide offers hundreds of behavior-based interview questions which allows candidates the opportunity to demonstrate their strengths based on the experiences they’ve had. If you participate in or are responsible for hiring in your organization, this guide has everything you need to build your personal talent assessment skills. Or, if you find yourself as a candidate in an interview process, it will help you prepare to share your experiences in a succinct and powerful way.

Why we love it: Switch is a rare example of a book on managing change that is not engaging, but relatable and entertaining as well.  The authors construct framework for change that builds on the “Rider and the Elephant” metaphor introduced in Jonathan Haidt’s book, The Happiness Hypothesis, and uses real-world examples to demonstrate how addressing both people’s logical and emotional responses can make change a reality.  We particularly appreciate their thoughtful list of patterns frequently observed when people resist chance, along with tips on how to overcome resistance.  Switch is a guide for introducing change in a humane way, and focuses on gaining alignment with individuals in the “change space.”

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