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Sooner Safer Happier

book cover image and link to amazon

This book started out a bit slow. At first, it seemed to merely rehash ideas from other similar publications, but it gradually introduced fresh concepts and ultimately proved to be a valuable resource. The core mantra, repeated throughout, is "Better Value, Sooner, Safer, Happier (BVSSH)."


It's not cheaper, each word is deliberately chosen. By the end, I was fully sold on applying this model to our outcome planning.

One particularly insightful point was the discussion of learning anxiety – the fear of attempting something new or appearing incompetent. The authors explained that organizational learning flourishes when learning anxiety is less than survival anxiety. This can be achieved by either increasing survival anxiety (threatening job loss for not learning) or decreasing learning anxiety (fostering a psychologically safe culture with empowerment and support). The book strongly emphasizes that increasing survival anxiety is counterproductive and won't yield the desired learning outcomes. This reinforces my belief that our empowerment strategy is on the right track.

sooner safer happier ai image

Another key concept was how to motivate people towards a goal... tap into the Why of the effort. People buy into the Why. They'll embrace an initiative if it benefits:

  • Society
  • Customers
  • The company
  • Their team
  • Themselves as individuals

These core values must be emphasized, often, to create a sense of security in pursuing the goal.

Finally, the book strongly cautioned against doing Agile for the sake of it. Our focus should be on results. Agile can be a means to achieve those results, but it shouldn't be the end goal. Measuring a company's ability to 'be Agile' is a red flag. Agile, Lean, Kanban, etc., are tools potentially useful in driving outcomes. Agile should be an adjective, not a noun. Likewise, we shouldn't do transformation; we should strive for better outcomes. Transformation is the natural byproduct of learning and achievement.

Overall, this is an excellent and versatile book covering a wide range of topics. It deserves a prominent spot on any reading list.

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