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‘Developing Agile Organisations’ by Mike Woodcock and Dave Francis


Developing Agile Organizations; Theory and interventions
by Mike Woodcock and Dave Francis
Gower, 1999.
A4 ringbinder, 356 pages, £195.
ISBN 0 566 07640 3.

Another collection from these two prolific authors, from the title aimed at organizations, but in practice the activities are a set of exercises and questionnaires for individual management development. The 35 ‘activities’ are parcelled in seven sections: perceptive decisiveness; two-brained problem-solving; multiple teaming; change leading; partnering; and dynamic learning and unlearning.

The sections are descriptive passages relating to the topic, but the meat is obviously in the activities. The press release talks about newcomers to the work of these two authors discovering their work and gaining benefit from it. This will be so, but it is doubtful whether more experienced trainers and users of previous activities will be so impressed. Many of the activities are repeats and rewordings of the authors’ previously published activity collections, many of which themselves were substantially repetitious. For example, in the section on two-brain problem-solving, the five activities are ‘Agile problem-solving Inventory’, ‘Eggs can Fly’, ‘Brainstorming in Teams’, ‘Zin 1 – The Obelisk, and a Problem-solving Skills audit. Similar comments can be made about many of the other sections, the activities in which, if not repetitions, are frequently rewrites of previously published questionnaires and inventories.

However, if potential activity users do not have recourse to previous Woodcock/Francis collections, this will be a useful collection of management development activities, supported by descriptions of the seven key management skills to be found in an ‘agile’ organization.

Leslie Rae
November 1999


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