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Agile Book Reviews: People Edition

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Agile Book Reviews: People Edition

From a book about being accountable for your own work to a book by Maslow about motivation and personality, these books can help you be more Agile in the workplace.

· Agile Zone ·
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I read a lot. Not all of it is related to Agile or business management, but enough is. 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 people practices.

Beyond Empowerment: The Age of the Self-Managed Organization by Doug Kirkpatrick: 4/5

While controversial (and I certainly don’t agree with all of it), this is one of the most innovative approaches to business management and staff empowerment I have read. Built around the idea that individuals can be truly accountable in their work, Beyond Empowerment is a must-read for any business leader looking for new ways to operate. I would love to see more case studies and practical implementation suggestions.

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The Balanced Scorecard: Translating Strategy Into Action by Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton: 3/5

I’m never sure how I feel about The Balanced Scorecard. One one hand it provides a simple and generally unbiased performance tool; on the other hand, the measurement of these behaviors can focus attention on the wrong areas and lead to unbalanced performance. However, whatever my thoughts on the balanced scorecard in general, this book remains a valuable and practical introduction to the subject. You must read beyond this book, however, as the actual use of balanced scorecards has continued to evolve.

Motivation and Personality by Abraham H. Maslow: 3/5

While it reads like an academic treatise, Motivation and Personality is a fascinating look at human motivation. This is Maslow’s expression of his eponymously named Hierarchy of Needs, which has become more well-known than the man himself. Though it has its share of criticism, it is still a useful (if simple) model of human needs. It's worth a read for anyone interested is psychology and human motivation.

Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David D. Burns, M.D.: 3.5

I come to this book from a management behavior perspective, and particularly find value in Burns’ 10 distortions. As described in this book, a distortion is a thought that seems truthful and realistic, but is actually exaggerated, irrational, or clouded by faulty perceptions and not factually correct. It is especially important, as a manager, that each of us understand our own patterns of thinking so we can identify potential fallacious thoughts that may effect our work.

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