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InfoQ Book Review: Collaboration Explained

by Deborah Hartmann Preuss on Jul 10, 2006 |
David Spann, an experienced facilitator, provides an insightful review of Collaboration Explained : Facilitation Skills for Software Project Leaders by Jean Tabaka.

Jean is an experienced teacher, consultant and coach working for Rally Software. In her book, she offers techniques to enhance group effectiveness, provides some templates to assure their first efforts are well planned, and tells some great stories along the way.

Spann strongly feels that this book should be on every software leader's bookshelf - not just to read once, but to use as a reference, and to share with others. He writes:
I can no longer sit through a meeting that has no stated purpose, agenda or reasonably neutral facilitator.  It's a waste of my time, the time of most everyone gathered, and the salaries our organization paid us to attend.  If you don't believe me, try calculating the total salary cost represented in your next meeting, add the value lost due to those things that were not accomplished and then tell me whether the meeting was worth those costs.

Enter Jean Tabaka's book entitled Collaboration Explained, in which she provides specific techniques and templates for anyone who wants to improve the results of their meetings and their organizational processes.  The context for this book is the realm of highly collaborative agile software development methodologies like Scrum, Extreme Programming (XP) and Dynamic Systems Development Methodology (DSDM), but the reader should feel comfortable that each of her solutions applies in any situation where humans are gathered together to make reasonable decisions.  In fact, this book should be required reading in all MBA and management curricula because of its ability to translate leadership principles into actual practices that work!
David is not alone in recommending the book.  The reviews on the book's Amazon page are uniformly enthusiastic.  Here's what Linda Rising, author of Fearless Change: Patterns for Introducing New ideas, had to say:
If Agile is the new ‘what,’ then surely Collaboration is the new ‘how.’   There are many things I really like about Jean’s new book.  Right at the top of the list is that I don’t have to make lists of ideas for collaboration and facilitation anymore. Jean has it all.  Not only does she have those great ideas for meetings, retrospectives, and team decision-making that I need to remember, but the startling new and thought-provoking ideas are there too.  And the stories, the stories, the stories!  The best way to transfer wisdom.
Read the InfoQ exclusive book review by David Spann.

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