Michael Levine is one of the prime voices championing the Agile Movement in computing and software development. His latest book on the subject People Over Process: Leadership for Agility is a dense and layered work reflecting on those working the front lines of software development and how business and organizational leadership can foster creativity. It is the third book in a trilogy guided by Agile philosophy and results from Levine’s educational background and long history with the United States Commerce Department, Wells Fargo, and Norwest Bank, among others. This book establishes his credentials as a technology leader while also emphasizing his embrace of time-tested leadership skills serving those in positions of responsibility since time immemorial.
AUTHOR WEBSITE: https://www.thetalesofagility.com/
That aforementioned mix is clear thanks to a host of factors but none arguably more pronounced than Levine’s confident writing. He mixes extended passages of creative writing with surprising success into a book where someone might not expect encountering it and those sections co-exist alongside the hard data and research without any jarring notes. There’s never any feeling of Levine “dumbing” things down for his readers, but he eschews a high-flown prose style in favor of communicating with readers in a concise and conversational way. The accompanying illustrations, figures, and research materials laden through the text are incorporated with an eye towards clarifying the subject rather than losing readers in reams of information. A tight focus on streamlined yet comprehensive presentation is a hallmark of People Over Process as a whole.
Those creative writing sections mentioned earlier run the risk of seeming melodramatic or tacked on to the text, but never do. This is a tribute to Levine’s skills as a writer and he, without question, draws from his own professional experiences outlining these scenarios though never outright says so. His narratives and “characters” never strain disbelief or feel like cardboard stand-ins for his ideas. It is refreshing to come across a writer in the non-fiction realm of “self help” or “how to” texts capable of providing a valid twist on the typical thrust and structure of such works without ever deviating off course. Such additions enrich and enliven an already valuable text.
People Over Process is never a bloated work, but dense with information. These moments read and feel well chosen however. Levine never goes off track or subjects readers to cascades of data and examples that strike you as irrelevant to the matter at hand and this on-point approach to the subject is important for all readers but, most of all, those new to the concepts and ideas Levine endorses. People Over Process: Leadership for Agility is, in the end, all about “people”, as its title specifies; there is no software or business to be conducted without that imperfect but wonderful engine propelling the train forward. Michael K. Levine realizes that above all else and emblazons his knowledge of that fact on every page of this important book. It concludes his trilogy of books on the subject of Agility and arguably saved the best for last.