Happy 50th Birthday, David J Anderson!

If I’m not mistaken, the community of practitioners, users, coaches and experts of Kanban has a special occasion today. It’s the 50th birthday of the pioneer of our method, David J Anderson.

Great Boss Dead Boss book by Ray Immelman

Among David’s many innovations, there’s one that deserves a special mention on such occasion. It’s his discovery of the work of Ray Immelman on tribal social behaviour and its implications to leadership in the modern workplace. Immelman’s book, Great Boss, Dead Boss summarizes his model of tribal behaviour and leadership and gives practical guidance on this subject. This book (ideally) or David’s condensed interpretation of Immelman’s insights given in his book Lessons in Agile Management (at the least) have become required reading for Kanban coaches. This knowledge, fortified by practice, helps our coaches be more effective change agents in many complex situations.

Great Boss, Dead Boss is a business novel. Its protagonist Greg faces a crisis at work and has to learn new skills quickly. Greg finds a mentor named Butch who guides him to discover many (twenty-two, to be precise) “tribal attributes” — ways to read group behaviour in the workplace. The new skills help Greg steer clear of hidden dangers and magnify effectiveness of his actions. Like Alex from Goldratt’s The Goal, he achieves something nobody thought possible and turns around his struggling plant.

Near the end of the novel, Greg discovers a twenty-third attribute, which he believes is important, which his mentor possesses, but without realizing it. Greg writes it down:

“Strong leaders have capable mentors whose psychological limits exceed their own.”

I want to use today’s occasion on behalf of all “Gregs”, many men and women of the Kanban community, to give David appreciation for being such a mentor for many of us over many years.


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