Michael K. Levine’s trilogy: “People Over Process”
People Over Process: Leadership for Agility is the third book in Michael K. Levine’s trilogy built off the concepts and philosophy of agile software, a developer-centric approach stressing the crucial role developers play in technology rather than viewing them as spokes on a wheel whose talents can be measured by volume above all else. This entry in the series focuses, for the most part, on the ideal leadership model under this paradigm and supports its conclusions in a number of ways rather than relying on rhetorical force alone to carry the day. It helps in no small way that Levine ranks as one of the pre-eminent proponents for the agile philosophy and boasts years of experience applying its principles in practical every day settings. This gives added weight to his already convincing arguments.
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Appendices, hypothetical scenarios laid out as creative writing exercises, and illustrations further buttress those points. Levine harnesses a deep tool kit to construct a vision for effective leadership under agile principles and the internal consistency of his structure reflects the analytical yet intensely human heart of his personal methodology. Levine marries a rigorous intellectual approach with people-first ethos throughout the book and maintains an impressive balance between the two. It is no small accomplishment.
It is even more notable how he manages to accomplish such ends while employing a learned yet coherent and accessible prose style. Given the subject matter, it is likely even expected that Levine might disappear up his own backside through the course of this book, but he remains connected to the core principles driving agile philosophy and while still framing everything with sharp and often withering intelligence. Even the secondary materials included in People Over Process share the same outward rather than internalized mindset. This book is a steady and thoughtful rebuke towards staid project managers and executives who are process oriented to the exclusion of all else.
He packages this in twenty chapters of sensible length that never bite off more than they chew. Levine resists the temptation to filibuster or riff on his themes and the lack of self-indulgence present in the text is one of the core strengths elevating this book above similar efforts. It isn’t a book you will read once and shelve to collect dust in a literal or figurative way. People Over Process encourages discerning readers to return again and again to its pages thanks to its information rich content and immense readability. Settling in with this text could be a dry experience but never is and Levine’s talents and experience as a writer shine through at every turn.
People Over Process: Leadership for Agility may be familiar for readers or their first experience touching on ideas like agile software; this review admits, without question, that its philosophy is not a household term for the bulk of readers. Exposing yourself to its tenets, however, is a compelling experience and shows, if nothing else, there are substantive thinkers working within the technology sector rejecting a business-as-usual approach and challenging the established order in hopes of spurring advancements and creativity. Long may they be heard.