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Stand Back and Deliver: Accelerating Business Agility 1st Edition

4.9 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0321572882
ISBN-10: 0321572882
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Editorial Reviews


“In Stand Back and Deliver, the authors provide strong, practical guidance on how to leverage the strengths of your entire team to get the right job done. Their experience in the trenches shines through with clear examples of how their approach can be applied to make your projects successful, regardless of the domain.”

–Jim Brosseau, author of Software Teamwork: Taking Ownership for Success


“A book rich with content, practical tools that can be easily adopted, and great examples that relate to the common workplace!”

–Lisa Shoop, software director at Sabre Holdings


“For those new to project management, Stand Back and Deliver offers the voice of experience. Its message is clear: Understand the value you must deliver, understand and manage the project’s complexity, trust in your people, and above all, have the courage to do the right thing.”

–Patrick Bailey, Department of Computer Science and Information Systems, Calvin College


“With most business books I am happy if I learn one or two key things that I want to put to use. This book is full of such concepts and tools and provides enough detail and examples that I’m confident I’d not just want to use them but would be able to do so successfully.”

–Terri Pitcher, IT manager


“Today’s postmodern organizational environment requires a new approach, and this book will provide many insights to the reader. You will learn how to detach and stand back, and yet passionately engage and deliver.”

–Greg Githens, managing partner at Catalyst Management Consulting, LLC

From the Back Cover

Enhance Fundamental Value and Establish Competitive Advantage with Leadership Agility Whether you're leading an organization, a team, or a project, "Stand Back and Deliver" gives you the agile leadership tools you'll need to achieve breakthrough levels of performance. This book brings together immediately usable frameworks and step-by-step processes that help you focus all your efforts where they matter most: delivering business value and building competitive advantage. You'll first discover how to use the authors' Purpose Alignment Model to make better up-front decisions about where to invest limited resources-and how to filter out activities that don't drive market leadership. Next, you'll learn how to collaborate in new ways that unleash your organization's full talents for innovation. The authors offer the Context Leadership Model for understanding the unique challenges of any project, and they help you tailor your leadership approach to address them. You'll find a full chapter on organizing information to promote more effective, value-driven decision-making. Finally, drawing on decades of experience working with great leaders, the authors focus on a critical issue you'll face over and over again: knowing when to step up and lead, and when to stand back and let your team produce results. Coverage includes
  • Effectively evaluating, planning, and implementing large system projects
  • Reducing resistance to process improvements
  • Bringing greater agility to the way you manage products, portfolios, and projects
  • Identifying the tasks that don't create enough value to be worth your time
  • Developing the forms of collaboration that are crucial to sustaining innovation
  • Mitigating project risks more effectively-especially those associated with complexity and uncertainty
  • Refocusing all decision-making on delivering value to the organization and the marketplace
  • Making decisions at the right time to leverage the best information without stifling progress

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 1 edition (July 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0321572882
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321572882
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.6 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,115,614 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Richard Sharpe on July 23, 2009
Format: Paperback
This recently released book on Leadership and Strategic Approach is, basically, excellent!

I am an advocate of taking the ego out of management and believe that managers acting as facilitators and stepping in when necessary rather than taking an ever-present command and control attitude, gain far more productivity from their teams.

The authors of this book have provided me with additional tools in their arguments and instruction in 150 pages than most Project Management book three times the size. They keep things simple and are concise without the patronizing tone that can be felt when reading other books of this nature.

They explain 4 simple models that can be used today in many different industries and write in a way that motivates the reader to try these out as soon as they get back to the office. They focus on:

Purpose Alignment Model - which allows for a clearer vision of what categories projects fall into. I have seen more generic and complex 'Business Alignment Models' where many projects are incorrectly categorized as 'differentiating' but do not add this type of value to the organization. By focussing on the purpose and using their 'Billboard' technique, insight is given into which projects truly are differentiating to the organization.

Context Leadership Model - giving visibility into the complexity and uncertainty values of a project to help leaders manage projects, with the right people, more effectively.

A Four Step Collaboration Process - designed to assess the right people for the job, allowing transparency in environments and then trusting people to get on with what they do best to produce high quality work.
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Format: Paperback
The Context Leadership Model seems the best part of this book. It suggests that projects be plotted in a two dimensional graph, where the axes are complexity and uncertainty. The graph is divided into 4 quadrants, and each is labelled by a fanciful descriptor. To be sure, there is no absolute scale on either axis. But the point is that if you have several projects, {A, B, C...}, then you should try to ascertain if complexity(A) > complexity(B) etc. Then this gives the ordering of the projects along the complexity axis. Ditto for uncertainty. So you can now plot these projects relative to each other.

The book spends much time talking about the different actions you should take, as a project leader, for each quadrant. Useful, as the authors suggest that there are qualitative differences between the quadrants in terms of project management as well as personnel best suited.

But there is a problem that is elided over. It has to do with the boundary between the quadrants. Yes, you can probably do a reasonable job assessing the relative ordering of projects and thus get a graph. But where do the quadrants overlay these points?

This may be unsolvable. Instead, suppose some projects have already been done, while at least one project is ahead of you. (If none, then there's little point to this book except purely as a retrospective analysis.) Perhaps from how you've handled the prior projects, you can try to see which of the quadrants they should have been in, after a careful study of the book. Then use this to fix the quadrant overlay and apply it to the new project.
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Format: Paperback
Differentiating, Partner, Parity, Who Cares. Where does your project fall, and what might you do differently because of that? Is your project a Bull, a Colt, a Cow or a Sheep Dog? Even just the names give you an idea that you are in for a different ride with each of these projects. Using straightforward models and a good dose of common sense, Stand and Deliver will change how you view projects and help you utilize your organization's resources to deliver just what is needed.

As a developer I learned early that the best solutions to complex problems are generally the simplest ones. There is a certain eloquence in simplicity. The eloquence of this book is its straight forward presentation of a simple set of tools through real-world examples of their worth and utility. Starting with a framework to show the interrelation between value-based decision making, purpose alignment, collaboration, and delivery, the authors share their considerable experience to help you invest the right resources in the right projects.

What's the purpose of your project? It sounds funny to say it, but often project teams don't actually know this. Does the project keep your company up with the Joneses? Put you ahead of the field? Or does no one actually care that much about it. The Purpose Alignment Model provides an assessment of purpose based on how a project relates to the organization's mission and market position. Is the project delivering capabilities that are mission critical and market differentiating? That's a Differentiating project that is worthy of the organization's all out efforts. Is the project mission critical, but not differentiating in the market? Now we have a Parity project on which we need to avoid over delivering.
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