The Agile Culture: Leading Through Trust and Ownership



pmwj36-Jul2015-Isenberg-BOOKBook Title: The Agile Culture: Leading Through Trust and Ownership
Author: Pollyanna Pixton, Paul Gibson, Niel Nickolaisen
Publisher: Addison-Wesley
List Price: $31.99 (£19.99)  
Format: soft cover; 229 pages
Publication Date: 2014     
ISBN: 0-321-94014-8
Reviewer:     Kaylan Isenberg
Review Date: May, 2015


I’ll admit that it was the “Agile” in the title of this book that caught my attention. Certainly Agile with a capital A has a lot of buzz right now in both tech and PM circles. While I was expecting to read a book that spoke more to the formalized Agile way, this book can be seen more as a framework for the cultural shifts that need to happen to help teams become more agile, lowercase a, with shifting demands in every type of marketplace, as well as more Agile, with internal/external processes.

The authors are experts in their fields: Pixton in collaborative leadership, Gibson in product development, and Nickolaisen in technical process improvement. As such, they each bring a unique perspective to the topic of healthy team and project dynamics. While there are sections of combined voices, the book also allows for each of them to take turns in exploring different aspects and sharing their experiences with the reader. In fact, the many case studies shared throughout the book are amongst the book’s highlights; the authors are not shy about providing details, best practices, obstacles, and learnings that they have encountered throughout their varied careers.

The book starts with focusing on the two biggies in team dynamics: trust and ownership. The authors are adamant that these are the keys to all project success, and they do an excellent job providing assessments, diagrams, and models for team leaders and members to consider as they are evaluating and building their own project teams.

I had a major ‘aha’ moment thanks to one of their diagrams, a quadrant entitled “The Trust-Ownership Model,” which depicts the potential project/team states – Failure, Command & Control, Conflict, and Energy & Innovation – depending on the levels of team/individual ownership and leadership/business process. I won’t give it all away, but I bet you can guess which of those four is the ideal state for a project/team (41-58).


To read entire Book Review (click here)

About the Reviewer


Kaylan Isenberg

Portland, Oregon, USA



 Kaylan Isenberg is a Project Manager at ThinkShout, a digital experience agency that specializes in supporting nonprofits through open source solutions. Prior to web development, Kaylan worked in program and project management at EdTech and SaaS companies.

Editor’s note: This book review was the result of cooperation between the publisher, PM World and the Portland, Oregon, USA Chapter of the Project Management Institute (PMI Portland Chapter – http://www.pmi-portland.org/). Publishers provide the books to the PMI Portland Chapter, where they are offered free to PMI members to review; book reviews are published in the PM World Journal and PM World Library. Reviewers can keep the books and claim PDUs for PMP recertification. PMI Portland Chapter members are generally mid-career professionals, the audience for most project management books.

If you are an author or publisher of a project management-related book, and would like the book reviewed through this program, please contact [email protected] or [email protected].