Sunday, 23 December 2018

Six Questions which predict Team Success and set your agenda for 2019.

I have worked with a lot of clients in 2018, which has been great. I really value the short, interesting and productive engagements as much as the longer projects that deliver outputs, outcomes and overall improvements for people and the business.

One of the shorter but interesting facilitation engagements was to ask a team the following six questions and get their ideas for how to make the answer YES for each.

  1.  I know what is expected of me at work
  2.  I have the materials and equipment I need to do my job right
  3.  I have the opportunity to do what I do best every-day
  4.  In the last 7 days I have received recognition or praise for doing good work
  5.  Someone at work encourages my development
  6.  At work, my opinions count
The key themes (in this example, which may not be representative for other organisations) included...
  • People understand the role of management in co-ordination, communication and collaboration but don't value micro-management of tasks.
  • People don't like chaos. There is a strong preference for predictable environments, managed workflow, consistent decisions and priorities and time to focus and get things right.
  • People don't mind being measured (eg timesheets, objectives, KPIs, successes) if they are clear about the objective, benefits and have the freedom to decide "how" they do their work.
  • People often know the best free tools, techniques and methods to do their job faster, cheaper and better. A lot of time, money, effort is wasted with indecision and interruption which compromise the outcomes.
  • People value being valued and that isn't always about remuneration. Sometimes it is thanks, appreciation, training, or simply being recognised as having achieved objectives, KPIs, successes etc.

What is so great is that people want the answer to be YES and given the freedom to suggest ideas will work hard to come up with solutions that make the work place a better, more fun and productive place to work.

My book for the year has been The Phoenix Project

The Phoenix Project: A Novel about IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win6 Feb 2018
by Gene Kim and Kevin Behr

I loved this book because the story was so real to so many projects that I have managed. The people, problems, technologies are typical as are the outputs, outcomes and frustrations. What has been great is realising that these are real-life issues with practical real-life solutions that can be applied.

As a troubleshooter often involved in project rescue it is always great to have insights from other people's experience that you can apply to your own circumstances.

I like this book so much that I am prepared to buy a copy for anyone who works with me and whats to understand what we can achieve together.

What book would you recommend to me?

The books that might help you in 2019, and your recommendations?


At the end of 2017 I stopped competitive sport and sought a new outlet. Having pushed my body to its limits I am now stretching my mind and am very grateful to a few good people who have suggested some wonderful books.

This blog is part an acknowledgement and thank you to the people who have really made an impact on me either directly or for the recommendations they have made.

I am therefore sharing a list of what I've read and why, just in case people have similar interests and would like to read the same books. It is also a great opportunity to canvas recommendations.

It is true that my physical fitness is not what is was when I was 30 or even 40, but there is no reason that my mind shouldn't go from strength to strength and I am grateful for any ideas that may improve me or my business in 2019.


This is a small subset, I think I may have read 50 books. I have attempted to put them in the order I would recommend with the best at the top of each list. I greatly value people's recommendations in the comments.


The Phoenix Project, A Novel about IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win 5th Anniversary Edition, By: Gene Kim, Kevin Behr, George Spafford

The Goal, A Process of Ongoing Improvement - 30th Anniversary Edition, By: Eliyahu M. Goldratt, Jeff Cox

Critical Chain,Project Management and the Theory of Constraints By: Eliyahu M. Goldratt

The DevOps Handbook, How to Create World-Class Agility, Reliability, and Security in Technology Organizations

The Toyota Way to Lean Leadership, Achieving and Sustaining Excellence Through Leadership Development

Thinking in Systems A Primer By: Donella H. Meadows


The Cold War, A World History, By: Odd Arne Westad

The Great Economists, How Their Ideas Can Help Us Today,By: Linda Yueh

Misbehaving, The Making of Behavioral Economics, By: Richard Thaler

Red Notice, By: Bill Browder

A History of Russia: From Peter the Great to Gorbachev, By: Mark Steinberg, The Great Courses

Willful Blindness, Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril, By: Margaret Heffernan

The Secret Barrister By: The Secret Barrister

Inside Story: Politics, Intrigue and Treachery from Thatcher to Brexit


The 12 Week Year, Get More Done in 12 Weeks Than Others Do in 12 Months, By: Brian P. Moran, Michael Lennington

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life By: Mark Manson

Key Person of Influence, The Five-Step Method to Become One of the Most Highly Valued and Highly Paid People in Your Industry

Summary of Algorithms to Live By by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths By: Instaread


Bad Blood By: John Carreyrou

Conspiracy, Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, By: Ryan Holiday

Hitch-22, A Memoir, By: Christopher Hitchens

Sapiens and Homo Deus: A Brief History of Humankind and A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari


I would like to thank Tom Hacquoil for a number of books: Zappos, The New New, When Breath Becomes Air, and a bundle of books on cryptocurrency

I would like to thank Jane Frankland for her book INsecurity

I am also mighty impressed by my Commonwealth Games Team Manager, Gary Jones who has published Evidence Based School Leadership and Management. Although written for schools the idea of doing anything based on data is a good idea!

I am also grateful to Gailina Lieu for the work of the Jersey Policy Forum and some great books: The Road to Somehere and Utopia for Realists. This opened a really interesting trail which included Andrew Keene's book How to Fix the Future and another breath taking look into the future with Life 3.0.

FOR 2019

I greatly value people's recommendations in the comments and am curious if there is a book club in Jersey for either Business Topics or Social Change.