How Would You Name Yourself?

What name properly represents you as a modern manager?

I changed my given name when I was 7 years old. I didn’t like the one my parents used to call me with (which was “Jury”). The name gave me bad associations. And so I selected the 2nd of my official first names (“Cornelis Jurgen”), which suited me much better. I taught everyone to use my new self-given name by ignoring them whenever they used the old one. As far as I remember, it didn’t take them long to learn. And basically, they agreed.

The new name represented the proper me.

The Agile name is now more than 10 years old. I still like it, for software developers. But it seems most managers don’t like applying it to themselves. Sure, we can try to call them by that name, but most will ignore it. Many managers like other names. Like Lean. And Leadership. And MBA. But I don’t like those names. They give me bad associations. And so my question is, what other name could modern managers in the 21st century select to call themselves?

What name represents proper management?

I don't think it's "manager" because nobody seems to like that name either. If you are a modern manager, empowering people and improving continuously, while delivering value to stakeholders, what name would you select for yourself?

(Jurgen Appelo is author of Management 3.0, a best-selling management book for Agile developers. It has a picture of a monster in it.)

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  • YvesHanoulle

    I call myself change artist (invented by Jerry Weinberg)

  • PDarrall

    It seems we have something in common, as I too changed my name (both first name and surname) at the age of 8. Applying similar techniques to you to get it adopted. I remember vividly ignoring a doctor who was treating me when he continued to insist on using the wrong name.
    It is very difficult to replace a word but in the spirit of challenge I have had a go. Even though there are possible suitable words, they may lack characteristics (such as representing the ‘radical’ nature of some of the approaches.
    Steward – ‘responsible overseeing and protection of something considered worth caring for and preserving’
    Leader – ‘an act or instance of leading; guidance; direction’ – but of course a highly damaged word due to its inter-changeability with management.
    Empower – ‘to enable or permit’ – the shame of it being the word is also damaged.
    Will see later if I can think of more … hard challenge.

  • Lisa Crispin


  • Ohehirj


  • Andrea Mariottini

    Jedi Master

  • Patrick Verheij

    Does it need one specific name?
    We are more and more working as a network instead of a hierarchy. We are also promoting self-organizing teams. Perhaps that’s a chance for us to change the name-game altogether.
    Some people that bear the “manager” title are now frowned upon for walking from meeting to meeting without contributing a lot. Some other people may not be managers by title, but take care of actual management because managers fail to do so. Again some other people do bear the management title and live up to it by any means.
    Do we need management? Most likely, yes. We can self-organize, but we refrain from self-management. Do we need managers? Perhaps, but to what extent?
    Why not mention our name in the first place and then explain what we actually do?
    People can hide behind the title of “manager” or “consultant” or “vice president” or even “developer”.
    I am Patrick and I train and coach people in challenging the status quo and applying different models and practices to improve their way of working so they can create more value and have more fun.
    Call me anything you like, as long as you remember my name 😉

  • Zmarge

    I think I’d like to work with Patrick.

  • VFQDev

    Hierarchies are a network, for example even the internet has hierarchies. What we might be want to be more clear about is the avoidance of tree hierarchies in favour of more intelligent structures.
    Let’s hope we don’t end up with a simplified attack on hierarchies. Though I have hope with Jurgen’s previous mention of Panarchy and Heterarchy, which shows forward thinking.

  • Roberto

    I suggest to change the name “manager” to “servant”. So the job will be the same, the intrinsic motivations will be the same… but there will be no people who wants to be “manager” just for lust for power.

  • Roger

    Some ideas come to mind, of course: overseer, harbinger, jefe…
    None work if you ask me. As a manager (my official title says so) I am a coach, a leader, a facilitator, a servant, an empowerer (?), a consultant, a decision maker, an advisor…
    I supose we’d need a situational title, but that would apply to anyone, not just to “managers”, wouldn’t it?
    People hide behind tools, processes, titles, paradigms, the-book-says-so… We just need more common sense.
    As for me, personally, though I’ve had three different titles in the company I’m working, everybody just calls me Roger. With 4 different pronunciations though 🙂

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