If I’d read the other book, I wouldn’t be me

by | 27 Jun 2021

Please don’t recommend any books to me because I’ll want to read them. But luckily, in 2000, I read the wrong book.

I was a software team leader in a bank. I had discovered Extreme Programming (XP) and was introducing it to my team. On an XP message board, someone mentioned Deming.


Exactly what I thought then.

Two posts followed. One recommended Out of the Crisis by the man himself, Dr W. Edwards Deming. The other post pointed to Dr. Deming: The American Who Taught the Japanese About Quality by Rafael Aguayo.

I would usually go to the source and read the Deming book, but the post about the Aguayo book came first, and I had already ordered it. That book was just right for me then. It had a light, effortless style with stories from the author’s life to illustrate Deming’s ideas. I soon joined a group about Deming’s work, and I had taken the first steps in learning more about systems and complexity.

I read Deming’s book a year later. Although it contains wisdom, it’s not well written. The prose is clunky, the structure is disjointed, and it is repetitive.

I wonder if I had read Out of the Crisis first, whether I might have put it aside and not started that journey.

We are the stewards of the field of systems and complexity, and we have a responsibility to ensure the gateway books are well structured, well written, and relevant to those who could change the world.

If I had read the right book back then, I might not be me now.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

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