“The Brain that Changes Itself” – Book Review

It has been a long time since I read a book in a single day. Yesterday I started and finished reading “The Brain that Changes Itself” by Norman Doidge, MD. As an educator, father and individual interested in self improvement, I was absolutely astounded by most of what I read. As an agile methods coach, I discovered some important, directly applicable ideas. Read on for a review of this book.

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Time is Not Negotiable

The Project Management Institute refers to three variables that can be negotiated or constrained for a given project: scope, resources and schedule. Schedule is an interesting “variable” in that we have no choice about how time flows. We can control how much scope to ask for, we can control how much money to put towards the work, but we cannot actually “buy” more time than, say, our competitors. This has important implications which deeply challenge the PMI’s PMBoK model of project management.

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Designing Truly Collaborative Spaces

While it may look like Agile teams all work in big empty “common rooms”, the truth is that people need more than that. Elements like light, air, traffic flow, noise, refreshments and comfort are not negligible: high productivity teams still consist of people, not robots, and these hard working people can be enabled or discouraged by the spaces in which they work.

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Agile is Not Communism

Last week I taught an introductory course on Agile Work. Normally this is pretty easy stuff. However, I was teaching this course in Bucharest, Romania (cool), and I have come across a substantial, strong and vigorous objection to agile (also cool, but challenging too). Several people in my class are asserting that agile is just like communism and since communism failed, agile is not likely to succeed either. I’m looking for help on this!

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