Alexis Monville (en)

The Story Behind The Book

Earlier this week, I announced the availability of the first edition of Changing Your Team From The Inside. I said in that post that I would tell you the story behind the book.

Back in 2013, I started to think about writing a book about the connection between agile and open source values, principles, practices, and tools. I thought that it would be an inspiration for large IT teams to transform their organization considering the different services they are running as open source projects in a community of distributed developers. As There are still quite a lot of projects that are maintained by one or two individuals, I thought that it would be an excellent opportunity to bring in open source communities practices that will value the work of a team, more than the heroic behavior of individuals. I delivered presentations on that topic, like in 2014, at the OpenStack Summit, in Atlanta, with Frederic Lepied, or in 2015, at the Open Stack Summit, in Vancouver, with Nick Barcet.

During the work on this project, I was struggling with different audiences, and I concluded that it was not the right angle. I aborted the project to work on a more individual-based approach.

A discussion of their values and principles with one of the companies I was working with at that time brought another insight. One of the founders said: “the most important thing is, we want employees to be happy, and with that, we will have happy customers.” This simple sentence drove a lot of research on happiness, so much research, that at some point I even thought that I would write something on that topic. Thanks to Julien Dubois, I keynoted the Drupal Developer Days in 2015 with “Happiness is Coming,” and that well received!

I continued to work around that idea during the next two years, bringing some of the content in several conferences and using it in my day to day work. Working with a company heavily invested in leading OpenStack to success, to provide enterprises with cloud capabilities for their on-premises infrastructure was an excellent source of learning. With Mark McLoughlin, we delivered a presentation in 2016, at the OpenStack Summit in Austin, to cover the idea of the flow of work going from the upstream company to the customers of the product based on the different projects coming from different communities. We wanted to send the message that whatever company you are working with, you don’t wear two different hats, a company hat, and a community hat, you integrate both responsibilities in your day to day work.

The OpenStack community was also a great source of learning with great people like Colette Alexander who founded the Stewardship Working Group to support the technical leaders in the community in the development of their leadership skills. We enjoyed a leadership training provided by ZingTrain in Ann Arbour. (What? A deli delivers training on leadership?)

The travel to Ann Arbour gives the opportunity to Emilien Macchi and me to visit Menlo, the company founded by Richard Sheridan, the author of Joy Inc. I am telling that to highlight that the quest for happiness was significant in that journey of building high impact sustainable organization.

I became progressively convinced that companies needed Transformation Manager because the transformation is not a small improvement. Transformation supposed that you will entirely reconsider the way you work. I started to work on the book. I also began to work on defining the role of a person like this in my company. It slowly became clear that it was not working, we were falling back on the “change agent” role, or the “agile coach” role, or the “improvement person.”
If you are familiar with the 14 management principles of Deming, you know the sole idea of having a person in a transformation manager role is breaking the last one of them:

“Put everybody in the company to work to accomplish the
transformation. The transformation is everybody’s job.”

Like quality should be built in the product and not assess after the fact, the transformation should start from within.

People are the source of change.

The beliefs of people define the value of the organization they are working with. People can change their organization from the inside. And so, I think I found the right angle, providing ideas of approach people could use to foster the change in their organization.

The rest is in the book: Changing Your Team From The Inside.

I am eager to hear from you about what’s working (or not) for you!


I heard back today from Claude Aubry the author of the great book on Scrum in French:

The approximate translation is: I finished the book Changing Your Team From The Inside and I highly recommend it. Very inspiring.

Thank you Claude!