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Review: Herding Monkeys—Nigel Collin

Carol Sutton
June 30, 2011

Effectively harnessing your team or company’s untapped creativity can mean the difference between success and failure in today’s world; Herding Monkeys is about helping you “unleash your company’s creative genius and turn it into commercial results”.

Herding Monkeys assumes that everyone is more creative than they realise and looks at how you can help everyone realise their creative potential. It is one of a series of three: the others consider the culture behind a creative organisation and the processes required to create ideas.

In many cases the project manager is part of a wider organisation and consequently many of the ideas suggested, such as giving people two weeks’ leave before they join the team, are not going to be possible, however suggestions such as using wikis or going out for a meal at the end of a project do translate easily.

Herding Monkeys discusses many fundamentals of people management, for example explaining to people ‘what’ not ‘how’, getting real ownership of ideas, celebrating successes and creating balanced teams.

Once I had decided that the herding monkeys’ analogy was there to test my own creativity, the book became a bit of fun, easy to read and towards the end peppered with tips and hints.

As a discussion/workshop tool Herding Monkeys provides many interesting vignettes such as the ‘Slinky’ story and ‘3M and the Post-It note’ which translate easily to the benefits of keeping lessons learnt logs; it has a different take on the eternal balancing act between cost, schedule and quality with the story on ‘cheap, quick or good—pick two as you can never have all three’.

Herding Monkeys could also be used during project initiation to facilitate discussions across the organisational/generational divide allowing those individuals with less experience in the environment/organisation/technology leverage off the corporate creativity and knowledge bank.

So is it for you? If you have never managed a team before or are moving into a new technology area then yes it’s a good cover-to-cover read, otherwise it’s best used as a discussion subject.

Herding Monkeys: How to Lead Creative Talents of Your People and Get Commercial Results
By Nigel Collin
RRP $24.95

Carol Sutton
Carol Sutton has been managing projects that deliver cutting edge technology on both sides of the equator for more than 20 years. Her passion is the smart use of knowledge to support usable technology into the future.
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