It was a bit of quiet meeting – just me and Tom turned out for this one. This discussions were around the book Fearless Change by Mary Lynn Manns and Linda Rising.
Tom began by saying that he was a little impatient reading the book. He wasn’t sure if this was because the book wasn’t getting to the point quickly enough, or if he was just short of time to read it. I pointed out that there is an Appendix that sums up the patterns and shows where they fit together. I think it would have been even better if there had been a map to show the connections between the patterns and the order in which they are applied.
I mentioned some of the patterns I found to be most interesting. In particular, Ask for Help, Group Identity, Piggyback and Just Do It. Once you read them, they seem obvious, but perhaps when you actually need to apply them it might not be so clear.
Ask for Help is just that and is a call to go against the grain and actually seek out others to help your cause rather than assuming that you need to do it all personally.
Group Identity is about forming a team or a movement around a name. I mentioned IBM’s Black Team, which I believe is mentioned in Peopleware. I’m not sure what Tom made of this, especially the idea that they would start wearing black to form an identity. But it seems like they were effective.
Piggyback is where you use pre-existing meetings and other structures to help move your idea forward. There was a story about starting a fringe conference just after another one to improve the chances of it getting attendees.
Finally, Just Do It is a call to get on and make changes. This seems to fit in with the maxim that it is “Easier to ask forgiveness than permission”.
Tom wondered if the book needed to be quite so big. I thought that a few patterns seemed to be very similar, such as Corridor Politics and Whisper in the General’s Ear. Both of these are about influencing key decision-makers in an informal situation. I might have preferred it if the initial twelve chapters which introduce the patterns in their settings had been supplemented by brief descriptions of the patterns. I’m not sure that having an alphabetic list is that helpful.
It sounds from the above that I didn’t like the book. But I did. For more, take a look at the interview with Linda Rising at InfoQ.
Finally, Tom had a flash of inspiration that this book fits into a tradition of management patterns books started by Machaevelli and The Art of War. I think that was the most profound comment of the evening.