Published on Sunday, 27 Mar, 2011
Book review: Driving Technical Change – Terrence Ryan
As Solutions Architect some of the core elements of my job are to keep up-to-date with new developments within the industry, to advise my organisation and clients about technical strategy, and make recommendations, whether that be on a project basis or as part of more general business strategy. Because of this, I was very interested when I learned that Terrence Ryan had written a book on Driving Technical Change.
The book’s subtitle is “Why People On Your Team Don’t Act on Good Ideas, and How to Convince Them They Should”, and is likely to strike a chord with many – on reading this simple statement alone several encounters came to mind, and I’m sure that others have experienced a similar reaction. The content follows in a similarly simple and logical yet instantly familiar vein – Terrence begins by introducing the premise and defining the problem, moving on to outline basic skeptic patterns, before concluding with techniques and strategies to help counter these. It is important to point out that at no point is the tone self-righteous, and Terrence offers several examples in the conclusion which detail personal anecdotes of how things can go wrong. He is also very clear to point out that the advice being offered is not a magical cure for difficult situations – the book is intended as a tool to help alongside work and effort.
Terrence’s technical background is evident from the varied and entertaining selection of scenarios used to detail skeptic types and countering techniques, but that does not stop this book from being a worthwhile resource for non-technical readers. His technical experience, combined with a BA in Psychology and professional experience in this arena give Terrence the ability to write confidently on both fronts. His writing style is eloquent and engaging yet playful, and you come away with a sense that helping to improve the working lives of others is a topic that Terrence really cares about.
Each of the skeptic types detailed resonated with my experiences, and this book left me with a great deal of food for thought. Whilst the techniques and strategies may not be groundbreaking to some (gain expertise, propose compromise, create trust etc), the way that these are presented and matched to the skeptic patterns makes the points easy to understand, remember, and apply. At 133 pages the book is a great length and I would recommend it as a quick and entertaining read that will arm anyone looking to push through change with the knowledge of how to be more effective.