Customer Reviews: Management 3.0: Leading Agile Developers, Developing Agile Leaders (Addison-Wesley Signature Series (Cohn))
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on June 16, 2011
I came to Jurgen's book with the hope of learning something new in the world of management, Management 3.0 (what ever that means).

What I found was a restatement of many tried and true principles. Few new practices, some cleaver pictures, and some misinformed notions around the examples he uses to support his thesis.

First to the thesis, as I can best deduce it. This appears as Jurgen says in the "Story of This Book," to be a personal story, taking ten years to write. A personal set of anecdotes and experiences informed by some references. These references are a source of disappointment. At the bottom of many pages are links to suggested supporting materials. These look like references, they are not. Regarding references, most of the bibliography is solid restatements of the agile thesis, all good stuff. Where Jurgen goes off track is when he tries to connect science to his thesis of management. The science analogies are simple minded and as a biased reader with a physics (practicing for some years) background I wince at the naive approach. Getting past that, I found some of the thoughts compelling.

There is solid evidence that management needs improvement. But there are many advice books already in place. Nearly every chapter starts with a slight put down of what didn't work in the past, then a weakly connected set of references for the 3.0 ideas, which are a re-statements in Jurgen's parlance - of ideas, practices and principles already in print. So the question is "why read this book, when there is really not much new there?"
Well the answer is in the nuggets that can be found sprinkled in the 400 or so pages. And there are some nuggets.
The notion that management is a complex adaptive system is well developed; this is not new of course. What is useful here is the connection of the processes in simple picture. Page 13 starts the process.

But the downside of this approach is that the book does not build on the past, but instead attempts to distance the thesis from the past and replace it with a new paradigm. The 3.0 approach. There no problem in doing that. Many authors do exactly that. Collins, Norton and Kaplan, Osterwalder's Business Modeling. But take a look at Eccles, Beyond the Hype: Rediscovering the Essence of Management. Use that book as a window into any 3.0 suggestion.

What is troubling with Jurgen's approach is that it is essentially a personal narrative of how to improve the management of software development. It reminds me of David Schmaltz's book, "The Blind Men and the Elephant, another personal journey through the domain of management. Entertaining reading perhaps, but unlike David's book, Jurgen's is 400 pages and lists for $45. Not a good return on investment for restating other people references.

In the end there are good things in the book, but you've got to work hard to find them. The writing style didn't resonant with me. It's filled with quips that make no sense except maybe to Jurgen. One of my favorites of about managing the system not the people (page 154). This is around self-organization. Jurgen's reference is Prigogine's discovery, which of course has been hugely expanded since the 1984 publication. This is typical of the references. A seminal work 30 years ago, that obviously influenced the author, but not a lot of follow up on the evolution of those ideas to today's interpretation.

On this page Jurgen states "a football team self-organizes with the boundaries of the playing field and the rules." It dawned on me that the word "football" is not the same word I use for "football." Meaning the American Football, because that football team is not self-organizing on the field and follows a strict play book (expect in the broken play). This became my understanding of Jurgen's approach - it's through his eye, his culture, his experiences. It's a dairy of his journey to "Management 3.0"
So in the end when I discovered the underlying theme - personal experience and narrative - I was able to step back from my hope that the ideas in the book were tested in some way outside that personal experience.

If you're interested in sharing Jurgen's journey this is the book. If you're looking for academically sound, field tested processes this probably isn't it. Collins' Good to Great, Shenhar and Dvir's Reinventing Project Management, and an much more practical book, Goodpasture's Project Management the Agile Way: Making it Work in the Enterprise.

Like many books in the agile domain these days, they are personal anecdotes, because that's what they are intended to be. So I'd recommend the down loaded version (cheaper) and look to Goodpasture as a better source for managing agile projects and read Beyond the Hype to get calibrated.
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on April 1, 2011
As the editors of the platform for agile management we were curious to read Jurgens book. That's what we think of it (the full review can be found at: [...]

Jurgen's book offers a considerable amount of knowledge, combining agile and complexity thinking. It provides an overview of many theoretical elements, tries to inspect and adapt scientific theories and uses interesting imagery and analogies to better understand systemic interrelations. While appreciating Jurgen's compilation of various building blocks, we can't help asking what's actually new in it. Neither can we see a creative combination of these building blocks, nor do we understand how it justifies the label of supposedly future-oriented management 3.0. We understand how this book raises interesting theoretical challenges, but we ask ourselves how these are to be resolved by applying well-known not to say old-fashioned principles, guidelines or checklists?

Furthermore, what is the specific link between Jurgen's management approach and the agile approach to team-based leadership? If complexity is best dealt with by teams (as proposed by agile methods), why does the author seemingly deal with the complexity of management as such all by himself? How does that translate into the advice he's giving, e.g. "how do I select an authorization level?" (p.129)? Is that indeed necessarily an (arbitrary) solitary decision by one manager? Why shouldn't management be team sports as well?

What we got out of the book:
1) a broad overview of many relevant theories and sources that could be helpful when it comes to clarifying current challenges.
2) a lot of basics that could serve as a kick-off for beginners or students.
3) the challenge for us to think more in-depth about management in agile and other environments.
4) the challenge to inspect and adapt what Jurgen offered in order to keep the discussion about the future of management alive - whether this future is agile or not.

Sigi Kaltenecker and Thomas Spielhofer
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on August 12, 2013
I found this to be a laborious read. The topic is potentially very interesting however, this book tries to tie together too many different pieces. For example there is a chapter which lists off about a dozen different scientific theories with little or no explanation of how these are tied into they approach. I did not feel that the book carried it's argument very well.
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on July 2, 2011
Jurgen Appelo made a bold move. Being an experienced IT manager and entrepreneur, he wrote a book that goes far beyond the agile software development realm, and dances with other disciplines such as complexity theory, systems theory and management. It is not rare then that, as many other works that dare cross borders, his book is sometimes criticized by experts from the other fields (complexity, management) that see his approach as naïf. On the other hand, many people see his book as a collection of ideas that are not necessarily original, but rather taken from thousands of other works (e.g. motivational theory, among others).

Now, is the book naïf on complexity theory? Maybe, but I think it does not intend to be heavy on the subject, but rather use complexity theory lightly to help understand what happens in most software development settings. Is the book completely original in what respects to management theories? Maybe not, but again, is it necessary to reinvent everything?

I think this book is a useful handbook for everyone that intends to "agilize" an organization. I reinforce the word "handbook", since a "handbook" is neither necessarily a scientific piece of work nor a 100% original contribution to the field, but rather a value-added compilation of techniques useful for a particular situation. Classics such as McConnell's Code Complete or Rapid Development are in this category, in my opinion. Jurgen's book has more individual contributions that most handbooks, but anyway, I like to have it in this category.

I think Management 3.0 is both useful for experienced managers and for techies recently turned managers. For the first group, it will serve as a way to refresh concepts seen in MBAs or management books, but with an agile flavor. For the second group, it will serve as a very practical, down-to-earth, guide to management concepts.

Still, there are a few things I didn't like that much of this book. On the first place, it's heavy emphasis on "left brain thinking": I think there is a lot of "right brain" thinking in software development that must not be avoided. On the second place, the narrative style is a bit "Jurgen centric" and maybe too informal for more traditional managers. Finally, the name "Management 3.0" is just too generic and pretentious ... less criticism would have arisen with a bit less bombastic name. :)

All in all, I recommend this book to managers interested in making their organizations and teams more fertile for agile approaches.
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on April 28, 2013
I've read a prerelease copy of this book, then the first edition, and recently the Kindle version. And only now, after reading it three times, do I get around to writing a review. That's because the first two times I read this book, it sent me off on a reading spree that had me dive into complexity theory and complex adaptive systems.

I agree with three-star reviewer Glen B. Alleman that the book is a bit anecdotal. That might not be to everyone's taste. The anecdotal style serves a purpose though: It allows for easy reading of otherwise tough material.

The truth about agile management, or Management 3.0 as Jurgen Appelo calls it, is that there's too little of it. So little in fact, that there are those who believe it does not exist. Or worse, that it should not exist.

In order for management to effectively surf the waves of agile transformation, managers will have to become more agile themselves. And in order to become more agile, managers should educate themselves. Reading Jurgen Appelo's book is where they should start.

Jurgen Appelo has written this book for pragmatists. Not your average every day pragmatist, but pragmatists that want to know what works, AND why it works on a fundamental level.

This book helps managers bridge the chasm of cognitive dissonance between classic reductionism and modern holism in management thinking. When hierarchical managers embrace complexity and non-linear thinking, they effectively become agile managers.

All in all, I really love this book. Highly recommended reading for all (aspiring) managers!
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on November 17, 2014
I have read Jurgens book with pleasure so my goal with reading books - reading with pleasure while learning from experience - is reached! I like the pictures, topics, personal anecdotes etc. and can use a lot of it. Of course - as with all books - you have to tailor it to your own organisation or projects and a lot I already know. But as always with books: you try to serve a bigger audience.

I also read some relatively negative reviews. What draws my attention in these reviews is that the authors do not come up with better alternatives. My view on Jurgens book is different: first of all he offers his work for free in a textbook edition so you can scan the full book BEFORE you (if you want it) buy it. I have bought lots of books that I paid for but were disappointing. So, in my opinion, Jurgen gives you the chance of saving money if you do not find anything new in his book (then just do not buy it). I would say: Respect!
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on March 18, 2013
The author waxes a little philosophical at times you can skip through it or take it as meta data on his thought process.

The information in it was interesting and thought provoking.

It led me to consider some of the priorities that I was setting for our teams and refocus on qualities that the team valued over items that I valued.

You can kill motivation and innovation without meaning to when you remove the pride that people take in their work.
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on February 21, 2013
Good solid science backing ideas about how to manage teams. This books gives you a chapter of theoretical thinking, then backs it up with some reality, then rinse and repeat. Practical, entertaining to read, and a lot of useful thought-food.
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on April 1, 2015
While I am still formulating my full opinions I really enjoyed the scientific viewpoint of the author's. He was encouraging one to follow concepts rather than telling and seems to have many valid points on self organizing teams. The examples provided were both relevant and often humorous, which too I greatly enjoyed.
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on August 19, 2013
I love the way this book gives so many references, summarizes them, gives their context, and either describes why one is best or proposes a new idea to buttress their weaknesses. This is the epitome of standing on shoulders of giants and it takes it to the next level. This isn't just a new approach based on one guy's past being shilled, it's got real research behind it.
Management 3.0 may be a presumptuous title, but Apello makes his case well.
Not only is this book theory heavy, but it also gives you action items. Learn the why and the how!
I'd love to see a follow up that takes this approach to pull together more contemporary literature on what Steve Denning calls the management revolution. Apello focuses mostly on the line manager and below, but these principals can be applied up and down the chain.
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