Have you read The Goal? It is (still) a pivotal book in the Lean movement. I’ve been telling architects that The Wheel on the School (a children’s story by Meindert deJong) is the hidden jewel of that genre—namely novelization of business fundamentals. I believe it could be a pivotal book in the networked, collaborative, dynamic teaming movement. Is there such a movement? In software development, we see it instantiated in Agile development and Visual Architecting.
I so like The Wheel on the School! The team was chartered: wonder about storks. The team went off, and in their individual styles, wondered. They created a shared vision. Then they each went off in different directions, like the spokes of a wheel, but with a common vision unifying their search for a solution. The whole village got pulled into the creation of the solution, at different points. The team told vivid vision stories to motivate and inspire various people along the way. More and more people got drawn into creating the solution; taking risks, doing what it takes. The core team, working like cogs, pulled in teams of teams. Sometimes all working together, sometimes as smaller teams. Fluid, dynamic, ever-changing teams. Through action, they made the vision real. People changed; changed their self-concept, changed the communities concept of them. In changing how they viewed themselves, in changing how they viewed others, they built the team. A team needs diversity and a team is transformative; or it can be. They made their vision real: they wondered, they created a shared vision, and they set the wheels of action in motion.
This is Kotter’s 8 steps of leading change in one delightful story you can even share with your kids. Or have them teach you. An open mind. A willingness to wonder. A willingness to think outside the box of convention. If you want to create, to lead, and you don’t relate to this book, please do tell me! The first 3 chapters on creating a shared vision will either have your attention, or you’ll be lost in translation. Not so much to invest then. And, if you find it useful, by all means tell us what lessons you found radiating from this gem of book.
While I’m recommending books for leaders, I also really like Stephen Denning’s The Leader’s Guide to Storytelling: Mastering the Art and Discipline of Business Narrative, Jossey-Bass, April 22, 2005. I see he has a follow-up book due out in October called The Secret Language of Leadership, (2007).