Book Review – Brainy Glue

Book Title: Brainy Glue: Making Change Stick

Author: Ian Richards and Filip Hendrickx

Publisher: Self Published

Year: 2021

IIBA Digital Library?: No

Our proposed process change could be the best in the world, and we could have the most accurate process models possible, yet if the managers and operators don’t understand, accept and use it, then the benefits will not be realised.

– Abbie, character in Brainy Glue

The book Brainy Glue by Richards and Hendrickx is a fictional ‘business novel on business analysis, innovation, and change.’ The story follows Abbie, a young consultant who is tasked by her employer with improving waste management processes at Infinity, a supermarket retailer. Waste management has become an issue at Infinity thanks to widespread unwanted criticism on social media about the amount of food waste generated by the supermarket chain. On her way to discovering, defining and embedding a solution to Infinity’s waste management problem, Abbie is required to engage with a wide variety of stakeholders, use a large number of business analysis techniques, challenge the views of senior management, and transfer knowledge to junior members of staff.

Brainly Glue is written in a similar style to Gene Kim’s successful books ‘The Phoenix Project’ and ‘The Unicorn Project’, where a fictional narrative is used to describe common business problems and methods for dealing with them. Where the methods and lessons in Kim’s books focus on project management and dev ops, Brainy Glue is focused on business analysis and change management.  However, a key point-of-difference with Brainy Glue is the techniques.

The characters in Brainy Glue use a wide variety of business analysis techniques in the story as they go through a process of innovation to define and implement change at Infinity supermarkets. Where a technique is used in the story, it is accompanied by a section in the book that describes the technique in more detail, providing material that can be referenced later. In this way, Richards and Hendrickx have managed to produce a fictional novel and reference book in one.

On the whole, I enjoyed this book. The story is quite engaging, the characters and the process they follow is realistic, and the techniques explained are useful. The book even includes a few techniques that I haven’t personally used before (I particularly like Business Case Canvas and Validation Plan). Having said that, the book contains a few cringe-worthy moments. The love story element felt a bit BA Mills and Boon, and the dialogue did seem unnatural and stilted at times (“Ah, so that is why it is important to set SMART objectives and clear and measurable benefits at the beginning?” no one realized out loud – ever!). However, this is a minor complaint, and one could argue these elements respectively portray a realistic workplace relationship and a junior business analysts’ process of learning.

The idea of reading a fictional story about ‘work’ won’t appeal to everyone. However, if you a) want to learn more about techniques and processes for fostering innovation and embedding change b) enjoyed books like The Phoenix Project and The Unicorn Project, and/or c) find reading reference books a bit hard going and want to try learning a different way, then I highly recommend you give Brainy Glue a read.

Anna Rajander

February 2022

%d bloggers like this: