Book Review: Management 3.0

February 11, 2011

Management 3.0: Leading Agile Developers, Developing Agile Leaders (Addison-Wesley Signature Series (Cohn)) Jurgen Appelo's Management 3.0 is all about a major version change for management. This book contains so much research and thought that it is almost impossible to do it justice in short review. However, I’ll try to give you a flavor for the book by tackling select topics and examples…

As Jurgen outlines in his Preface, Management 1.0 was about hierarchies, and Management 2.0 was about fads, or add-ons to the hierarchal 1.0 style of management. Jurgen doesn’t discount earlier management theories, but instead makes the case that we've moved on. Management today needs to “replace the assumptions of hierarchies with networks.”

Jurgen’s goal for the book is to help everyone become a better manager – a better Agile manager in an Agile organization. Jurgen does this by weaving together his research on management and complexity theory along with his own insights based on experience, sprinkling in a little humor to provide a unique perspective on management.

For example, here’s Jurgen’s Management 3.0 model, with six different views of the organization (the model is named Martie, in case you were wondering):

(Diagram by Jurgen Appelo)

Management 3.0 examines people, teams, organizations and the role of the manager using these views.

Innovation and creativity are becoming increasingly important to businesses, and Jurgen discusses this –among other things – is his chapter on How to Energize People. Jurgen points out that one area managers should examine to foster creativity is the work environment, stating, “A person is likely to be more creative when his environment breathes creativity.

Jurgen outlines five key ingredients of a creative environment:

Safety: People are creative only when they feel it is safe to express their ideas. There must be freedom to be creative and freedom to take risks when talking about new ideas.

Play: Games and play challenge people’s minds and allow them to practice their creative talents.

Variation: Routine work kills creative thinking. Change things up by organizing meetings at the local park, or giving each product release the name of a funny animal, etc.

Visibility: You can instill creativity just by making other people’s creative results visible.

Edge: Find real challenges that are a little scary. This does not mean that you should give people too much work to do! Challenge their thinking and stretch them, but don’t pile on more of the same.

Management 3.0 has a great deal of sound advice and insight backed by solid research and practical experience to help guide the development of an Agile leader. For example, one piece of advice is to avoid creating motivational debt.

One common way that managers create emotional debt, Jurgen says, is by being bossy. It is much better to ask someone to do something, he says in Management 3.0. His reasoning is quite simple and grounded in the basics of human motivation: “When people have not agreed to do something, you don’t have their commitment. And when you don’t have their commitment, you have a motivational problem on your hands.”

Agile leadership is all about empowerment, right? Jurgen makes an excellent point (as he does throughout the book on a variety of topics) about the distinction between empowerment and delegation. (Quick, what is the difference in your mind?)

Delegation, as Jurgen states, “…is the act of handing over responsibilities for something to someone else, ” whereas empowerment, “…includes the support of risk taking, personal growth, and cultural change.”

Empowerment is often cited these days in management literature as a mechanism for improving productivity, enhancing work/life balance, increasing employee retention, etc. Jurgen quotes research on how companies have in fact reported improvements in profitability and competitiveness because of empowerment initiatives, but then Jurgen does something unique. He relates empowerment to complexity theory.

“The real reason for empowerment,” Jurgen states, “is the manageability of the complex system itself. Smart managers don’t just empower people to enjoy the radiant faces of employees. They empower people to prevent the whole system from breaking down.” The reason for this, Jurgen continues, is that, “Without bottom-up distributed control, a complex system like an Agile organization just doesn’t work.”

That said, Jurgen acknowledges that being an empowered employee is a skill, something that must be learned along with discipline to maintain it. Jurgen advises to place empowerment initiatives into one of three categories: low, moderate, and high, with the intent of getting everyone to the higher level.

As a manager, this means choosing from one of seven authority levels:

Level 1: Tell. You make the decisions and announce them. (This is really non-empowerment).

Level 2: Sell. You make the decisions, but attempt to gain commitment by “selling” your idea(s).

Level 3: Consult. You invite and weigh input from workers before making a decision.

Level 4: Agree. You invite workers to join in a discussion to reach a consensus as a group.

Level 5: Advise. You attempt to influence workers by telling them what you opinion is, but you leave it up to them to decide.

Level 6: Inquire. You let the team decide first, with the suggestion that it would be nice, though not strictly necessary, if they can convince you afterward.

Level 7: Delegate. You leave it entirely up to the team to deal with the matter while you go and have a good time.

And what about the conventional management techniques involving measurement, referring to the oft-quoted Peter Druker, who said, “What gets measured gets managed”? Management 3.0 is willing to challenge this thinking.

Jurgen counters with, “What you measure is what you get.” Jurgen explains this is that this can lead to a problem knows as the Sub-optimization Principle, where if each subsystem is made to operate with maximum efficiency, the system as a whole will not operate with utmost efficiency. The crux of this is that team members need to self-organize to optimize the output of the whole team and not the individual team members, something that is routinely espoused by Agilists.

But Jurgen disagrees with the notion of many Agilists of measuring only teams and not individuals. Jurgen provides a simple, insightful perspective: “Optimizing the whole cannot mean that we move all metrics to higher organizational levels.” He points out that, “After a few recursive steps, there wouldn’t be a sensible metric left to use.”

Jurgen’s recommendation is that we can conditionally use individual and team metrics: “A metric of individual performance is fine if and only if it is augmented with metrics at the team level. And metrics concerning individual teams are OK if and only if supplemented with metrics for entire business teams and the organization as a whole.”

Is Management 3.0 a complete and definitive work on Agile management? In Jurgen’s own words:

“ matter how accurately I try to summarize the contents of this book, and how well I try to draw my illustrations, complex systems theory tells me that every simple description I have for management of Agile organizations will be incomplete. Negated by complexity thinking. Compressed to nothing.”

Management 3.0 introduces the reader to Agile management and complexity theory in an engaging, pragmatic way that I’m sure you will find both informative and a useful reference for years to come. And I feel confident that the subject of Agile management and Agile organizations will grow and evolve, and Jurgen Apello’s Management 3.0 will be recognized as one (large) step in the right direction of an Agile journey and Management 3.0.


Anonymous said...
Fillies Beamer said...

Employee engagement is essential as well. Even the smartest and brightest manager still needs cooperation from his or her employees.

February 11, 2013 at 4:34 AM
Dave Moran said...

@Fillies Beamer,

I agree completely! Engaged employees provide the greatest productivity, hands-down.

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