Friday, February 03, 2006

Great Boss Dead Boss by Ray Immelman

[Updated: I changed the name of this posting. 'Michael Chiklis as Roy Singham in ThoughtWorks the Movie" was kind of lame and even though there was a connection far down in the posting, it didn't really address the intention of the content.]

Good morning Andrew.

Isn't it cool when you get a tool (or toy) that you can really use. Your Mom has learned early on in our marriage not to get me handtools as a gift as it would be a complete waste of money. And worse yet it would be a huge disappointment for me as I typically savor for weeks in the anticipation of getting some cool electronic thing to use (play with).

Well, that PSP your Mom got me for Christmas has been one of those tools (toys) that I have been getting good use out of. For example, this morning on the train I watched the latest episode of The Shield that I downloaded from Tivo last night. (I can't watch The Shield at home anymore - too violent for you and Mom doesn't like it. So I have to sneak it out of the house and watch it on the PSP on the train.)

So there I was on Amtrak watching The Shield and I notice myself using another tool that I recently acquired from the book Great Boss Dead Boss by Ray Immelman. This is a fabulous book as it has given me tools to help understand people's behaviors. The book explains how people respond to their boss based on their individual needs for security and value. (This comes from Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs that I'll share with you other time.) But the book goes beyond individual needs for security and value by talking about how people often respond based on the groups (or tribes as Immelman likes call them) that they belong to and the tribe's need for security and value. Some interesting attributes of a tribe include:
- Tribes are groups of people that are often not just organizational groups.
- Tribes, like individuals, have needs for security and value.
- When a tribe's security or value is threatened, the people in the tribe will behave in predictable ways that differs from when their individual needs are threatened.
- Tribes will go to war with other tribes if their tribal security or value is threatened. Often these combating tribes are in the same organization.
- Individuals will abandon the tribe if their need for security or value is not provided by the tribe.
- Tribes with that have a strong sense of security and value have strong leaders.

So, having read Great Boss Dead Boss has made watching The Shield even more interesting. I can see how the tribal attributes really apply in so many different directions: gang warfare, Vik Mackey's Strike Team, Internal Affairs, rookie cops trying to get accepted, and on and on.

I encourage all of my colleagues to read the book and to be sure to get all the way through it. The last 20 pages are the most enlightening, at least for me. I won't go into the details here, you need to read it for yourself to get the full impact. It did help me understand why ThoughtWorks is unique and what makes most TWers highly effective. (There is more than just the bald head that Vik Mackey, the cop in The Shield, and Roy Singham have in common. )

The book, and especially the last 20 pages, has helped me realize what I must do to become a more effective project manager / leader. It is such a joy for me to see that you are on that growth track already, 40 years ahead of me.

I'm grateful and honored to be your Dad.