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Turn the Ship Around

Turn the ship around!: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders by L. David Marquet - is now officially my favourite Agile Process book, hands down
Turn the Ship Around!

"Leadership should mean giving control rather than taking control and creating leaders rather than forging followers." David Marquet, an experienced Navy officer, was used to giving orders. As newly appointed captain of the USS Santa Fe, a nuclear-powered submarine, he was responsible for more than a hundred sailors, deep in the sea. In this high-stress environment, where there is no margin for error, it was crucial his men did their job and did it well. But the ship was dogged by poor morale, poor performance, and the worst retention in the fleet.  - http://amzn.com/1591846404  


Why would a book about Submarine command be my favourite book on the topic of agile software development?

Because it captures the spirit of what agile is about better than any other book I have read. Agile is not a process - it's a set of values, principles and way of thinking. Lieutenant David Marquet has that way of thinking and as the story unfolds of the changes that were made on the Submarine Santa Fe - you can also see many similarities in the values and principles that they adopted on the ship to the agile values and principles. 


In fact, the story of the ship's transformation should not be that different to that of a waterfall organization transitioning to an agile one. Should being the operative word. In this age of agile mediocrity, how refreshing to read something so uplifting and positive that captures the heart of the what the agile movement was, should and could be - more so than any agile book I have read.


Turn the Ship Around! has been a major inspiration in creating FAST Agile and is included on the reading list page.


So what values and principles are being portrayed in the story that parallel those in the agile world and manifesto? 

People and interactions over process 

Servant leadership 

What instead of how 

Self-organization over command and control 

Continuous improvement

Sustainable Pace

Continuous attention to technical excellence 

Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done

Respect, compassion and empathy

And more...  

 

I won't go into examples of each. Rather, I let you read the book and decide for yourself. I hope it touches you the way it did me. 


Thank you Lieutenant David Marquet for your service to your country, to humanity and the agile community by sharing this beautiful story. Read more about David at http://www.davidmarquet.com


Ron Quartel

6th July 2015



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