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Artful Making: What Managers Need to Know About How Artists Work Paperback – May 8, 2003

ISBN-13: 007-6092016328 ISBN-10: 0130086959 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 201 pages
  • Publisher: Financial Times; 1 edition (May 8, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0130086959
  • ISBN-13: 978-0130086952
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #491,160 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Managing When You Don't Know Where You're Going

If you don't know where you're going, any mapwill do. This conventional wisdom sounds right to many managers. It highlights the safety of having a clear objective for your management actions. It implies that all management actions are likely to be confused and inefficient if you don'thave a clear objective. If you don't have a good fix on your destination--be it a product or service, a strategic or competitive outcome, or anything else--you may as well not start the journey.

For a lot of your work, though, this so-called wisdom is wrong. Why? For one thing, you can't always know your destination in advance. Whether you're designing a new product, running a business in volatile conditions, operating a process that might encounter unforeseen inputs, or just trying to figure out what to do with your life, the journey usually involves exploration, adjustment, and improvisation. Situations in which you don't or can't know the results in advance are common and consequential. All businesses face them.

If you're not too narrow in what you're willing to call "management," you can manage these situations. You can enhance effectiveness and efficiency, and you can improve the likelihood of valuable outcomes. However, the methods you'll use will differ from, and sometimes conflict with, methods that work when you do know where you're going.

There is an increasingly important category ofwork--knowledge work--that you can best manage by not enforcing a detailed, in-advance set of objectives, even if you could. Often in this kind of work, time spent planning what you want to do will be better spent actually doing (or letting others in your charge do), trying something you haven't thought out in detail so you can quickly incorporate what you learn from the experience in the next attempt. In appropriate conditions--only inappropriate conditions--you can gain more value from experience than from up-front analysis. In certain kinds of work, even if you can figure out where you're going and find a map to get you there, that may not be the best thing to do.

Forging ahead without detailed specifications to guide you obviously requires innovation, new actions. We take this observation one stepfurther by suggesting that knowledge work, which adds value in large part because of its capacity for innovation, can and often should be structured as artists structure their work. Managers should look to collaborative artists rather than to more traditional management models if they want to create economic value in this new century.

We call this approach artful making. "Artful,"because it derives from the theory and practice of collaborative art and requires an artist-like attitude from managers and team members. "Making," because it requires that you conceive of your work as altering or combining materials into a form, for a purpose. Materials thus treated become something new, something they would not become without the intervention of a maker.

About the Author

 

Rob Austin is Professor of Technology and OperationsManagement at Harvard Business School where his research focuses on the changing nature of work. His experience includes a decade with Ford Motor Company; from 2000 to 2001, while on leave from Harvard, he served as a senior executive for a new division of a leading technology company, helping to establish a new organization and technology platform. He is author of Measuring and Managing Performance in Organizations, and co-author of Creating Business Advantage in the Information Age, and Corporate Information Strategy and Management. A Cutter Technology Council Fellow, Dr. Austin holds a Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon.

 

Lee Devin, Professor Emeritus at Swarthmore College and dramaturg for the People’s Light and Theatre Company, has more than 30 years of experience in the theater. He has won prizes and grants for play scripts, librettos, and translations that have been published or performed worldwide. As an Equity actor, his roles have ranged from Malvolio in Twelfth Night to Mitch in A Streetcar Named Desire. He has been a visiting consultant or artist in residence at Columbia University, the Folger Library, Ball State University, the Banff School of the Arts, University of California San Diego, Bucknell University, and the Minnesota Opera. Dr. Devin holds a Ph.D. from Indiana University.


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Customer Reviews

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Certainly a must read for anyone in the business field.
Michael Balle
Buy this book and place it along side your books on agile software development; you will want to read it and refer back to it frequently.
Steve Berczuk
If you have been using agile development methods, it will open your eyes to why those methods are successful.
Peter Behrens

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Steve Berczuk VINE VOICE on July 15, 2003
Format: Paperback
The principles that this book discusses: Release, Collaboration Ensemble and Play are extremely relevant to creating effective software teams. The principles are inspired by observing how theatre companies work, but they also have a basis in lean manufacturing. If you work as a software developer or manager and have ever worked on a theatre production (community theatre or at school) a light will go on immediately. If you haven't The data that the authors provide about lean manufacturing practices and software development will convince you that there is a lot that we can learn from this metaphor. The theatre examples will be helpful in explaining how the principles work if you need to communicate them to a manager who does not understand software development. Buy this book and place it along side your books on agile software development; you will want to read it and refer back to it frequently.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jim Highsmith on May 3, 2003
Format: Paperback
For those who need to innovate in a world of change, reduced cycle times, and demanding customers. Austin and Devin provide a management framework for delivering innovation reliably and effectively. Concepts in the book--Artful Making, Reconceiving, Low cost iteration, and working on the Edge--all resonate with my experiences in the Agile Software Development movement. "Artful Making" will go on my must read list!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kathryn B. Eil on November 11, 2003
Format: Paperback
"Artful Making" is a great book. Before reading it, and even into its first few chapters, I was under the impression the book was aimed mainly at midlevel management of medium-to-large corporations:a large group, to be sure, but one to which I do not happen to belong. But I was mistaken . . .
I soon realized that the key qualities of release-collaboration-ensemble-play can fit any setting where individuals or groups of people want to create something valuable. What Austin and Devin are talking about is developing a process and a result that unite in a never-ending productive cycle, where each "iteration" is different, but yet a necessary prelude to what follows. We can all benefit, because we all have the same need to stay away from the "staleness" and complacency that can be so deadly to personal and professional growth. "Artful Making" will help you find the way.
I recommend the book completely. Read it over and over and keep a pencil handy for special passages!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By "jroyo" on July 14, 2003
Format: Paperback
I have had the privilege of studying under Prof. Rob Austin, and I this book continues the dialogue that has always informed Rob's intellectual search--how do two seemingly disparate disciplines, in this case theater production and knowledge based business, converge to inform processes that are virtually identical thus providing a path where each can improve the results of the other.
Both he and Lee Devin have written a concise, powerfully convincing narrative that offers a new approach on how to manage complexity, embrace ambiguity and uncertainty and innovate reliably under strict deadlines. Managing "release", rapid iterative development, and creating the right "ensemble" are some of the key concepts explored in the book.
Highly recommended for anyone presented with the challenges of how to innovate and perform reliably under deadlines.
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Format: Paperback
Austin and Devin present a truly innovative approach to help us in the software industry to reconceive our traditionally engineered world. I have a bias toward metaphors and this one really hit home. It not only brings out the soft-science (human) side of developing software, it helps displace the perceptions that artful productions are anything but a disciplined, impeccable process requiring as much, or more, business aptitude than software development to be successful.

If you are in the software development industry and have, as I have had, pre-conceived notions of how artists create and innovate, this book is a must read. If you have been using agile development methods, it will open your eyes to why those methods are successful. If you have used more traditional methods, or are skeptical toward agile methods, this book will enlighten you toward an industry that has been using such agile methods for centuries.

Finally, and most importantly, this book highlights the creative and innovation process. Many in the software development industry struggle with how to create innovation, typically stumbling over it if you are lucky. This book will guide you through how you can use innovation techniques in your company and teams to build innovative products. I highly recommend this book to anyone seeking to improve their organizations' innovative capabilities.
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Format: Paperback
We have this tendency, understandable but at times pernicious, to bracket the world off, to make compartments for our relatively unexamined opinions. One of the worst examples of this is the notion that individuals in the arts and folks in business have nothing to offer one another: artists squander resources and are fundamentally dysfunctional when it comes to practical matters; business people care only about the bottom-line and apply an industrial model to whatever they do. In their book, Artful Making, Lee Devin and Rob Austin frustrate this kind of thinking and in doing so open up new lines of communication and cooperation amongst individuals who actually have much to offer one another. In creating these bridges, Artful Making offers readers a fundamentally generous view of human experience as evidenced by its key terms - collaboration, ensemble, release, play.
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