About the Book
There are multiple facets to this unorthodox book.
This is an unusual story of a Russian-born Israeli expat in India, who spent 18 years in Bangalore. It is an account of a bumpy corporate journey – from a software engineer to a VP and General manager of a development centre that he had founded and expanded to almost 2,500 employees. This is also a tale of a very personal journey – from denial to understanding, acceptance, and (tough) love of India.
For Western readers, especially engineers and managers, this is a light colourful introduction to the Indian corporate culture, and its deep roots in the realities of Indian day-to-day life. These realities define how engineers write and maintain software. Recognizing them makes cooperation with Indian developers more productive and enjoyable.
For Indian readers, this is a (deliberately?) crooked mirror – a primer on Western stereotypes and prejudices towards India. Knowing (and disagreeing with) them, would help Indian techies and managers work better with the West.
The first part of this book illustrates how Indian stereotyped “drawbacks” can turn into competitive advantages. How traditional Indian values – blended with practices of product management and refactoring – can accelerate business growth. And how India could remould itself from a “software Varanasi” and a “retirement home” where systems are sent to sunset – into an ultra-modern software rejuvenation clinic.
The second half of the book is a radical transformation story: to survive the corporate axe, a division of 1,200 engineers had to cut costs and double (!) its efficiency. For that, they had to change everything: metrics, Agile frameworks, delivery pipelines, and – most importantly – the org structure, which was the key impediment for agility. To build a truly adaptive organisation, both an operating model and corporate culture had to go through a paradigm shift.
To awaken engineers’ minds from a corporate hibernation, a radically new approach to management was required. “Meta-management”, influenced by Eastern thought and practices, became an alternative to the Western leadership-obsessed approaches.
What happened to real people during the difficult times of change? Was a radical adaptive transformation even possible in a hierarchical and traditional India? Was all that sweat, blood, and tears worth it?
And finally, could a legacy product successfully compete with a new one, built to replace it?
This book mentions Scrum, DevOps, feature teams, Agile mindset, refactoring and other best practices. It also vouches for certain transformation approaches - surprisingly, influenced by Jewish tradition!. Still, it is not a set of instructions, but a patchy Rajasthani rug of ideas, stories, and metaphors. And as a funny and honest quest for a meaning of management.