Band practice last night. We hadn’t played together in a few weeks because I was on the road. I sat down behind the drums and grabbed my sticks and counted off and we were into “Times Like These” by the Foo Fighters. This is a great tune that starts out in 7/4 time, and has a bridge in 7/4 time. I love odd time signatures. What makes odd time cool is the need for all band members to be aware. Even time signatures, like 4/4, are more “natural”, like muscle memory. We can feel them without thinking because we have always been exposed to even-time signatured music. The first few times you play in 7/4, it feels weird. It is mechanical, clunky, and not very musical. Once you get a feel for it, it starts to flow, and develops a groove all its own.
I love this quote from Fujio Cho, President of the the Toyota Motor Corporation, 2002.
We place the highest value on actual implementation and taking action. There are many things one doesn’t understand and therefore, we ask them why don’t you just go ahead and take action; try to do something? You realize how little you know and you face your own failures and you simply can correct those failures and redo it again and at the second trial you realize another mistake or another thing you didn’t like so you can redo it once again. So by constant improvement, or, should I say, the improvement based upon action, one can rise to the higher level of practice and knowledge.
Over the past years I have collected some excellent books on Organizational Change, Culture, LEAN and Agile. Here is some of my reading list. It’s by no means exhaustive, but a good start. I’ll be adding more books soon. Click on each list item for more information.
Deep learning and application of knowledge is the only way to truly transform yourself and your organization.
- Riding the Waves of Culture – required reading for anyone who works with large internationally distributed organizations.
- Eastern Religions – I especially like the section devoted to Confucianism. If you do any work in Asia, you need to read this.
- The Geography of Thought – How Asians and Westerners think differently
Organizational Change and Business Culture:
- Leading Teams – Excellent thinking on how to build high-performance teams.
- Servant Leadership – teaches us how to lead in an Agile world, and in life.
- The Five Dysfunctions of a Team – teaches us about the necessary steps to achieving trusting, high-performance teams
- The Mythical Man Month – a classic on large and complex product development.
- Fearless Change – the title says it all.
- Critical Chain – if you want to get LEAN and develop a culture of impediment removal, this is a good place to start.
- Theory of Constraints – by the same author as Critical Chain – all about Continuous Improvement and how to do it.
- Leading Change – a must-read for anyone involved in Organizational Transformation
- The Toyota Way – Operational Excellence and the thinking that makes it happen.
- The Toyota Production System – a practical guide to LEAN with tools you can use starting now.
- Agile Estimating and Planning – for anyone planning Agile releases using Scrum – required reading.
- Scrum and XP from the Trenches – a practical and useful guide for new and experienced Agilists.
A big struggle, especially with managers, is writing User Stories on internal change and improvement to arrive at the point where we can define clear acceptance criteria, and actually get something DONE-DONE. We managers tend to think more broadly and in abstract terms. Useful and necessary, but certainly not sufficient. One approach that works to get from abstract to “rubber meets the road” is to iterate on the abstract ideas and break down the epic change Stories into smaller, more concrete ones and use the acceptance and INVEST criteria as the litmus test to know if you have something that can be implemented and measured.