The comprehensive nature of Michael Levine’s People Over Process: Leadership for Agility will mark it as the final word on the Agile Movement for the foreseeable future in the area of software technology. Make no mistake, however – this is not a book for tech wonks alone. Despite its area of focus, Levine’s book is unique in the way you could divorce any mention of technology from the text and it would still stand as an authoritative account about maximizing your leadership potential in a variety of areas. Levine’s wide-ranging eye takes many factors into account and does an excellent job recognizing how and where they overlap while he shows impressive skills combining those observations with a wealth of research data and illustrations reinforcing his points. He accomplishes all of this within a relatively brief volume and the same combination of personal connection and results oriented focus fueling his professional life shapes the text as well.
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I admire his deftness at bringing a number of common tropes in works of this nature together with such ease. Levine synthesizes the personal and professional without ever losing his voice from either position and, in the end, they weave a distinct whole greater than the sum of their individual parts. People Over Process, likewise, follows through on the mandate of its title – it has a tight focus on the fruits collaboration bears and how both team leaders and members alike can better one another and, thus, blur the arbitrary distinctions of their respective hierarchical positions and work as a single seamless creative unit. Concerns about following established guidelines are jettisoned in favor of disrupting the status quo because, in the end, breaking down those hoary barriers is the key to unlocking imaginative and collaborative powers, not observing hidebound rules of following procedures of some sort.
Even the presentation of this book has a slight tinge of the revolutionary. Rather than giving us a purely objective and rhetorically focused text, Levine shuffles the deck and deals us a book rich with surprises. Among them are the aspects of creative writing he brings to bear through depicting fictional situation that, nonetheless, drive home the book’s principles and points. I cannot recall, off hand, any similar experience reading books of this type and this experimental move pays off big dividends for the book and Levine’s espoused goals for People Over Process. Few readers, if any, will find it to be a self-indulgent move.
It is a book with much to offer and does so in a condensed package respecting the reader’s need for a manageable length. Levine does not run on and on impressed with his own ideas or the “sound” of his own voice and it makes the book all the more impactful. People Over Process: Leadership for Agility makes its aims clear from the outset of the book and systematically hurdles each of those respective benchmarks with room to spare. It is one of the most notable entries you’ll encounter on the subject and an entertaining reading experience as well.