Journal    Photos    Links

January 22, 2004

Software For Your Head book review

In last month's post on Vision, I first mentioned the book "Software For Your Head." My Software For Your Head review is up on Amazon. A repost of it follows. I'm mostly happy with it except for my example of why I think the book is tedious. While I was reading it I saw lots of places. Under the pressure of writing the review and not spending too much time on it, darned if I could find any stellar examples. Oh well.

The material in this book was derived from years of intense experimentation with real teams. This experimental nature really appealed to me and so I had high hopes for this book. Unfortunately, the book does not feel polished and so that experimental nature really shows through.

The lack of polish is a result of poor editing, not necessarily poor experiments. My main gripe is that the sentences and paragraphs are just too hard to read- there's no flow. "By accepting or practicing a lack of integrity, you leave the better parts of your presence behind." Sentences like these make me feel like the authors pulled "eureka!" type statements from their bootcamps and plunked them down in the book naked. The surrounding material often doesn't support complicated statements like these well, and so the complicated material is that much more ambiguous. "What are they trying to get at here?" is the sort of question I found myself asking too often while reading the book.

I disagree with the statement in the Richard Dragan review that says this book is "long on theory but consciously short on any practical examples." SFYH is *mostly* concrete things you can do to foster a team that is engaged and strives for excellence. However, it puzzles me that the book does not provide any anecdotes from their bootcamps that support the protocols they are proposing. I think the material would have been a lot more friendly if it would have stepped away from technicality now and again to illustrate the material with examples: "this one time.. in bootcamp.."

I see a lots of parallels between the ideas from Covey's "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" and this book. Covey does a great job of explaining how highly effective people operate, and SFYH implements many of their habits in its patterns. Additionally, Lencioni's "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team" does a great job of illustrating a dysfunctional team and I see a lot of synergies between the dysfunctions outlined in that book and the problems that SFYH aims to address with concrete things you can do, and mindsets that you must take.

Despite my criticisms, there are lots of ideas in this book. I happen to like a lot of them. The way you think about how you work will be different after reading this book. It's just a shame the authors didn't express their ideas more clearly and more succinctly.

Posted by tbailen at January 22, 2004 10:41 PM
Post a comment