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08 April 2006

Extreme management or extreme lack of interest?

When Extreme Programming (XP) began in the late 1990s, it started a revolution in software engineering which through the Agile manifesto is still evolving today.

That's all very well for writing code, but what about managing companies? Could the same principles of Communication, Simplicity, Feedback, Courage and Respect not be considered universal values that are just as applicable to CEOs as they are to workers at the code face?

This task in hand, I was surprised to compare the results.

Extreme Programming Explained by Kent Beck, creator of the extreme programming technique has 126 reviews and currently stands #8,517 on's bestseller list.

Extreme Project management moves a little down the Amazon charts with a mere 11 reviews and is #29,139 on the Amazon bestseller list.

Meanwhile bring up the rear we have Extreme Management that claims to tell us What They Teach At Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program. Yet, despite the illustrious name, this book trails at a mere 7 reviews and is #625,532 in the best seller list. Moreover it doesn't seem to be about extreme management at all, instead it is an intense management course.

Is this a reflection of the quality of the books? I think not. It seems that whilst programmers are embracing change and adapting to the techniques of Communication, Simplicity, Feedback, Courage and Respect there isn't much happening higher up. Unless someone can point me to a good textbook for lightweight, agile management that is.

"Nothing endures but change" Heraclitus (c.535 - 475 BC) Greek philosopher. Often quoted as "Change is the only constant". That being the case, why does management seem reluctant to embrace it when it is the main driver of running a business?

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