Book Review: Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity

By Kim Scott, 2017, 246 pages

This is a book I found out about while attending one of the largest international software engineering conferences, the 2017 Atlassian Summit. One of the Keynote Speakers at the conference was Kim Scott, co-founder and CEO of Candor, Inc., a company founded to help people have better relationships at work, and do the best work of their lives. Kim gave a very good ‘TED Talk’ type presentation at the Atlassian Summit, reviewing the main points in her book. The foundation of her very readable and useful book, is her “Radical Candor 2x2 Framework”, a way to guide interactions at work, and help gauge feedback—praise and criticism.

 From the book and the Radical Candor website:

  • Radical Candor™: The ability to Challenge Directly, and show you Care Personally.

  • Obnoxious Aggression™: What happens when you challenge, but don’t care? Praise that doesn’t feel sincere, or criticism that isn’t delivered kindly.

  • Ruinous Empathy™: What happens when you care, but don’t challenge. Praise that isn’t specific enough to help the person understand what was good, or criticism that is sugarcoated and unclear.

  •  Manipulative Insincerity™: What happens when you neither care nor challenge. Praise that is non-specific and insincere, or criticism that is neither clear nor kind.

One of the main reasons Kim was asked to talk at the Atlassian Summit, was the perceived value of her book’s advice and guidance for supervisors and managers of what is a rapidly growing number of software engineering Millennials. According to Scott, millennials often feel empowered and opinionated, they are curious and ambitious, and many of them want to receive and give feedback. Her book seeks to help managers and leaders in handling feedback with millennials, as well as what millennials should do with regards to candor and feedback when first building a relationship with their bosses. I expect this book to become a handy and relevant reference for another set of very important systems engineering ‘soft skills’.

Book can be purchased from Amazon