Agile Book Reviews

The number of Agile books available could fill a library, or at least a mobile library van for which I want to be first in the queue.

I have been seriously reading Agile books for the past few years and have always penned a review as I finish each book to avoid buying the same one twice.

And to answer a few questions:Book stack image

  1. Yes, I read every book thoroughly cover to cover and if it’s good I may have read it again straight afterward.
  2. Yes, I have bought every one of these books, or read them via Kindle Unlimited, or downloaded them (if free or very low-priced).
  3. No, I have never received financial compensation and have no commercial connections that would represent bias in my reviews.
  4. Yes, I keep all of the books for reference purposes and no I do not want to donate them to you or your cause/company.
  5. Yes, I do have a little bit too much free time… with thanks to British Rail, leaves and the wrong type of snow.

Image of all books that have been reviewed.

These are purely my honest opinion on each book that I have read within the broad Agile and Lean domain. If you would like a more balanced review, then either check Amazon or just read it yourself and let me know what you thought.

I have rated them on a scale of one to five stars:

  • 5* Outstanding Agile book, everyone should read
  • 4* Great Agile book, I recommend people read these
  • 3* Good Agile book, well worth reading
  • 2* To be honest, not great and I recommend that you look elsewhere
  • 1* I don’t want to use the word terrible as I am sure considerable effort has gone into these and possibly if they fulfil your specific need then fair enough but for me, the tree has died in vain.

I have included a quick reference graphic (right) for all the covers rated from 5* (outstanding) to 1* (‘unloved’). Note that for consistency I have scaled to a standard size for all cover images that distorts some of the more unusually sized books (yes I am looking at you ‘Little Book of Scrum’).

I hope you find this guide useful in selecting some of the great Agile titles available. Note that my definition of an Agile book is very broad and includes Lean, Lean Startup, change management, management 3.0, organisational transformation and several other related topics.

If you can recommend a book for me to read, or would like me to recommend a book for your role or domain then please send me an e-mail.

Books are just one of the many methods of learning available to us today, I simply wish that a few more people would put down Clash of Flappy Candy Birds for a few minutes and read a few pages…

1 Essential Scrum: A Practical Guide to the Most Popular Agile Process (2012, 504 pages, Kenneth S. Rubin)

5* Comprehensive and practical guide to Scrum for use at all levels. Truly great book with very clear diagrams, really a must-read.

Also, see the referenced Visual AGILExicon for downloadable images.


2 Succeeding with Agile: Software Development using Scrum (2009, 504 pages, Mike Cohn)

5* The definitive guide to Scrum by one of the world’s leading experts. Great book and a must-read for Agilists.

3 Scrum and XP from the Trenches: How we do Scrum (2007, 140 pages, Henrik Kniberg)

5* An excellent, detailed and practical guide to Scrum-based upon the first year of an actual forty-person team. As well as paper copies, this book is free to download from InfoQ.

Note that the second edition of this book was released in 2015 and is also downloadable from InfoQ.

4 Kanban in Action (2014, 360 pages, Marcus Hammarberg & Joakim Sundén)

5* This book contains a detailed introduction to Kanban written by two leading Kanban coaches. It includes theory, stories and worked examples. This is a practical and informative volume with serious real-world foundations.

5 Agile Estimating and Planning (2005, 368 pages, Mike Cohn)

5* The definitive guide to estimating and planning Agile projects. The concepts are clearly given and anticipated questions addressed.

Mike Cohn is a legend within Agile and was a founder member of the Scrum Alliance and Agile Alliance. His training courses are excellent as are his on-line offerings at Front Row Agile.

6 User Stories Applied: For Agile Software Development (2004, 304 pages, Mike Cohn)

5* Comprehensive guide to using User Stories in Agile software development. Covered areas include user role modeling, gathering stories, writing user stories (showing great and poor ones), prioritizing and scheduling plus examples throughout.

7 Management 3.0: Leading Agile Developers, Developing Agile Leaders (2010, 454 pages, Jurgen Appelo)

5* This is the missing Agile book for management explaining what they should be doing. It examines six dimensions via Marty the management monster.

This book provides an overview of all of the major theories and sources within the domain. It also challenges existing practices and provides the first steps in better ones. Entertaining content, well argued, pragmatic and usable – overall a very useful book.

8 Scrum Mastery: From Good to Great Servant Leadership (2013, 288 pages, Geoff Watts)

4* Perfect book for Scrum Masters to improve their knowledge and help them create a high-performance team. The book utilizes a decade of Scrum coaching experience to identify great Scrum Master practices and details how to actually implement them.

9 Product Mastery: From Good to Great Product Ownership (2017, 288 pages, Geoff Watts)

4* Any book that starts with forewords by Scrum co-creator Jeff Sutherland and product expert Roman Pichler is going to be good. And this book does not disappoint, Geoff Watts follows his excellent ‘Scrum Mastery’ and ‘The Coaches Casebook‘ by examining the product ownership role.

Geoff describes the traits of great product owners through the acronym DRIVEN:

Product Mastery successfully highlights best practice by comparing good to great product ownership. This is an essential book for product owners seeking to better understand and excel in their role.


#Workout: Games, Tools & Practices to Engage People, Improve Work, and Delight Clients (2014, 472 pages, Jurgen Appelo)

4* This is a beautiful and engaging book on modern management practices. Jurgen describes tools, games and practices to introduce better management. The concrete examples presented are immediately usable and useful and include popular techniques including kudo cards, delegation poker, merit money, champfrogs and moving motivators. I recommend starting by reading How to Change the World, then Management 3.0 and finally #Workout.

Note that a second version of this book has just been released (June 2016) with a new title – Managing for Happiness: Games, Tools, and Practices to Motivate any Team.

11 The Startup Owner’s Manual: The Step-by-Step Guide for Building a Great Company (2012, 608 pages, Steve Blank & Bob Dorf)

4* If you can judge a person by the impact they have had then Steve Blank is a living legend. His ground-breaking work ‘The Four Steps to the Epiphany’ introduced the Customer Development process which launched a new approach to creating products. His award-winning teaching of the Customer Development has created many entrepreneurs, including Lean Startup creator Eric Ries.

Steve has co-authored this book with fellow serial entrepreneur Bob Dorf, and it is epic, both in size and weight, but also in scope. The Startup Owner’s Manual is a solid reference book for creating successful companies, and at 608 dense pages it is not going to be a light read but what it has is value throughout.

If you are thinking of creating a company or a product, either for a physical or web/mobile channel then buy this book, read it, absorb it and refer to it often. The evidential approach to customer development will save you time and money and, hopefully, drive you towards quantifiable product success.

12 The Devops Handbook: How to Create World-Class Agility, Reliability, and Security in Technology Organizations (2016, 250 pages, Gene Kim & Patrick Debois & John Willis)
4* Inspiration and enlightening handbook of DevOps in modern software. There is great advice on how to introduce DevOps step by step with a lot of detail and practical advice. Don’t confuse this with the fable of the Phoenix project (Gene Kim & Kevin Behr) but learn from both. DevOps is the continued growth of agile through the entire value stream.
13 Scaling Lean & Agile Development: Thinking Organizational Tools for Large-Scale Scrum (2008, 368 pages, Craig Larman & Bas Vodde)

4* A very detailed book covering both thinking tools and organisational tools. A good knowledge download with lots of ‘Try…/Avoid…’ advice and Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) content. Companion book to ‘Practices for Scaling Lean & Agile Development’.

14 Practices for Scaling Lean & Agile Development: Large, Multisite, and Offshore Product Development with Large-Scale Scrum (2010, 624 pages, Craig Larman & Bas Vodde)

4* Companion book to ‘Scaling Lean & Agile Development’ listing the ‘Try’ and ‘Avoid’ practices or action tools to experiment with in a Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) context. Huge book (598 pages) of dense text listing each experiment, recommended as a look-up guide and not a long read as it took me a while to complete.

15 Large-Scale Scrum: More with LeSS (2016, 368 pages, Craig Larman & Bas Vodde)
4* This new book on LeSS provides a straightforward guide to implementing agile at scale.
The first two books (Scaling Lean & Agile Development and Practices for Scaling Lean & Agile Development) provided a comprehensive set of experiments which many found difficult to start with whereas this book focuses on clear guides to application.
The book comprises of sections on LeSS structure, LeSS product and LeSS sprint, and details transformation for LeSS (2-8 teams) and LeSS Huge (8+ teams). Advocates for LeSS will probably be surprised by some of the hard-line rules specified in this entry-level guidebook.
This is a very useful resource for anyone looking to scale their development from the ground up using LeSS. It is a great way to get scaled agile up and running prior to considering some of the experiments provided in the other books.
16 The Agile Samurai: How Agile Masters Deliver Great Software (2010, 264 pages, Jonathan Rasmusson)

4* A clear and informative book on using Agile to deliver software better. This book covers best-practice, war stories and usable exercises in a humorous way.

17 Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days (2016, 288 pages, Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky & Braden Kowitz)

4* This book contains practical and detailed guidance on how Google Ventures’ Sprints are used to make decisions and solve problems. The five-day process moves from idea to prototype and finally customer interviews to provide real data to make decisions.

The three design partners from GV explain the process that they have used hundreds of times at many companies to address problems and create practical and proven solutions. Client examples given include Slack, Airbnb, Fitstar, Foundation Medicine and Savioke.

This is not a technique in which to run all of your development, such as Scrum, but it is a method for selecting challenges, evaluating and selecting experiments, prototyping and providing real feedback in order to make decisions.

Recommended for anyone who wants to solve hard problems quickly.

18 The Agile Mind-Set: Making Agile Processes Work (2015, 224 pages, Gil Broza)

4* An easy to read book on the missing element of Agile – the mind-set. Gil examines the broader context required for successful long-term Agile implementation.

Gil consolidates 26 Agile principles (Respect, Transparency, Trust, Personal Safety, Focus, Sustainable Pace, Self-Organising Teams, Collaboration, Communication, Consensus, Leadership, Outcome, Effective, Defer, Simplicity, Experiment, Cadence, Reliability, Cost of Change, Shippable, Quality, Time Box, Results, Feedback, Learning and Improvement) and looks at humans and interactions in the context of Agile adoption.

The Human Side of Agile: How to Help Your Team Deliver (2012, 344 pages, Gil Broza)

4* A book is for leaders, scrum masters, managers, coaches and change agents who need practical advice on helping Agile teams to work well. This book looks at building and leading an Agile team by focusing on the people involved. Using facilitation, coaching and strong leadership Gil looks at team level cultural organizational change.

I believe that this is a great reference book for deeper learning on how to design your own role, grow a solid team, engage in powerful conversations, be an agile leader and sustain a team long-term. This book contains useful advice relating to situations we all encounter.

20 The Scrum Field Guide: Practical Advice for your First Year (2012, 416 pages, Mitch Lacey)

4* An impressive and solid guide packed with proven concepts and real-world experience.
Note that the second edition of this book was published in December 2015.

21 Scrum Shortcuts: Without Cutting Corners (2013, 208 pages, Ilan Goldstein)

4* Really practical guide for step-by-step improvements to process, actions and outcomes. A good next-stage book to improve Agile.

22 The Peoples Scrum: Agile Ideas for revolutionary Transformation (2013,170 pages, Tobias Mayer)

4* This book contains enthusiastic but sceptical essays upon Scrum. I enjoyed this book for the way it challenges pre-conceptions. A fun read and a challenge for Scrumdamentalists.

23 Agile Game Development with Scrum (2010, 384 pages, Clinton Keith)

4* Valuable advice with interesting anecdotes from the computer gaming industry. Although gaming focused the majority of the knowledge transfers clearly. This book is full of detail of Scrum and developing products and is a very enjoyable read.

24 Actionable Gamification: Beyond Points, Badges, and Leaderboards (2015, 511 pages, Yu-kai Chou)
5* Yu-kai created the Octalysis framework to identify the eight core drives that promote an engaging user experience. This is a gamification framework designed by a game player, and brings the principles and methods successful in games to other non-game applications and broader life goals. This is the strongest book available on gamification and covers the concepts of white hat versus black hat and left brain versus right brain. The book is now supported by a comprehensive gamification training platform called Octalysis Prime – click on this link for my personal referral.
25 Choose Your WoW! A Disciplined Agile Delivery Handbook for Optimizing Your Way of Working (2019, 443 pages, Scott Ambler & Mark Lines)
4*The playbook for Disciplined Agile Delivery providing a comprehensive toolkit that updates and replaces the 2012 DAD book. Co-creators Scott and Mark have written a great book combining many existing agile practices into a single decision framework, now called a toolkit, and probably a pattern library when it is updated again in 2026.
The first 100 pages provide an overview of the DAD toolkit and explains how to apply it. The next 343 pages are hard-formatted tables covering each process goal specifying related decision points and associated options and an explanation of each. There are regular diagrams for each decision tree and to show the six DAD lifecycles.
This book is essential if you are looking to adopt disciplined agile delivery for software development. It would be greatly improved if it passed an editor on the way to the publisher, perhaps for the next edition.
26 Lean from the Trenches: Managing Large-Scale Projects with Kanban (2011, 17 pages, Henrik Kniberg)

4* Another great book from Henrik detailing a Swedish police project with 60 people using XP, Scrum and Kanban. A fun read of progress on a real project which provides a lot of detail and highlights the improvement process in action.

27 Lean Software Development: An Agile Toolkit (2003, 240 pages, Mary Poppendieck & Tom Poppendieck)

4* An excellent book on how to apply lean principles to software development. This book details the following seven fundamental lean principles and how they act as a foundation for agile software practices:

  1. Eliminate Waste
  2. Amplify Learning
  3. Decide as Late as Possible
  4. Deliver as Fast as Possible
  5. Empower the Team
  6. Build Integrity In
  7. See the Whole

The book also includes 22 ‘thinking tools’ to help customize agile practices.

Lean Software Development provides a great foundation on which to better understand Agile and how it can be implemented across the entire lifecycle. This book is perfect for those wanting to gain a deeper understanding of Agile and broaden their engineering knowledge and capability by using lean.

28 Implementing Lean Software Development: From Concept to Cash (2006, 304 pages, Mary Poppendieck & Tom Poppendieck)

4* This is the second book from Mary and Tom and consists of practical advice and techniques to implement lean software development.

The book covers lean within software development via value, waste, and people. There are interesting sections on value stream mapping, extending agile practices, improving speed and quality, and building high-performing teams. This is a practical book that contains excellent, proven and practical guidance on improving software development.

29 Leading Lean Software Development: Results are Not the Point (2009, 312 pages, Mary Poppendieck & Tom Poppendieck)

4* This is the third book by Mary and Tom and introduces twenty-four frames of reference coverings six areas:

  • Systems Thinking
  • Technical Excellence
  • Reliable Delivery
  • Relentless Improvement
  • Great People
  • Aligned Leaders

To my mind, this is a great book for all managers and leaders at every level. Much of the content resonated with me and backs up what we see in Agile development. This bigger picture view helps to frame our transformation work and help us to focus on what is really important.

30 The Lean Mindset: Ask the Right Questions (2013, 192 pages, Mary Poppendieck & Tom Poppendieck plus input from Henrik Kniberg)

4* This is the fourth and last book by Mary and Tom and although shorter than the others does pack in many great concepts and examples.

I liked the stories and case studies that brought life to the five chapters:

  1. The Purpose of Business
  2. Energized Workers
  3. Delighted Customers
  4. Genuine Efficiency
  5. Breakthrough Innovation

The thinking models (mindsets) presented are challenging but compelling. I enjoyed the book and believe that it rounds off the tetralogy (quartet) of Lean books from Mary and Tom.

31 The Lean Startup: How Constant Innovation Creates Radically Successful Business (2011, 336 pages, Eric Ries)

4* This is a challenging, innovative and inspiring look at startups whether they are new companies, new product innovation within an existing company or transformation programs.

There is great content on vision, validated learning, pivoting and creating a minimum viable product. This book contains sound advice and is an inspirational and valuable read.

32 The Leader's Guide Book Image The Leader’s Guide to Adopting Lean Startup at Scale (2016, 368 pages, Eric Ries)

4* The Leader’s Guide was written by Eric Ries as a sequel to his massively popular first book The Lean Startup. Eric funded the publication of the book via the highest-grossing publishing Kickstarter campaign ever which collected $588,903 from a goal of $135,000.

This is a great book that looks at Lean Startup and how to scale it within organizations. It builds on Eric’s first book with great case studies, guidance, and tips on implementation. I very much like the coaching sections which give experience from real lean startup implementation both within small startups and large organizations.

The Leader’s Guide was only released via Kickstarter so the information online is a bit light so here are the chapter titles and summaries from the book:

  • Introduction
  • Part 1 – Process
  • Chapter 1. A primer on The Lean Startup methodology.
  • Chapter 2. Proof – What customers so is more important that what they say
  • Chapter 3. Simplify – Remove any feature, process, or effort that does not directly contribute to the learning you seek.
  • Chapter 4. Learn – Changing direction is an integral part of startup building
  • Part 2 – Scale
  • Chapter 5. Trust – How entrepreneurial management fosters sustainable growth
  • Chapter 6. People – Supporting innovation’s most valuable resource
  • Chapter 7. Money – Finance and accounting for innovation projects
  • Chapter 8. Scale – Build companies that create new and lasting value
  • Conclusion
  • Acknowledgments
  • Endnotes
33 Running Lean: Iterate from Plan A to a Plan that Works (2012, 240 pages, Ash Maurya)

4* Practical advice for developing new businesses or products. CEO and serial entrepreneur Ash Maurya looks at how to find a problem worth solving and then how to develop a winning solution. The four stages presented are as follows;
1. Understand the Problem
2. Define A Solution
3. Validate Qualitatively
4. Verify Quantitatively
The work builds upon the Lean Startup build-measure-learn cycle with additional material on determining product/market fit, when to pivot and capturing your business model via the lean canvas.

34 Scaling Lean: Mastering the Key Metrics for Startup Growth (2016, 304 pages, Ash Maurya)

4* This is the perfect book for startups looking to move beyond initial experiments. The book describes how to identify the right metrics for growth and how to frame further experiments around them. There are also explanations on how to successfully traverse the early stages of a business using tools including the lean canvas, traction model and customer factory blueprint.
Additionally, Ash has created a six-step framework to define, measure and communicate with stakeholders; he has given it the apronym GOLEAN:

  • Goal
  • Observe and Orient
  • Learn, Leverage and Lift
  • Experiment
  • Analyze
  • Next Actions

This is a very useful book for both lean startups and other product development, but do first read Lean Startup by Eric Ries and Ash’s first book – Running Lean to provide the right context.

35 Lean Enterprise: How High Performance Organisations Innovate at Scale (2015, 352 pages, Jez Humble, Joanne Molesky & Barry O’Reilly)

4* This book describes how to utilize Lean and Agile at scale throughout your organization to radically improve performance and value generation. In addition to covering the overarching principles, there are many practical examples from companies implementing change on the ground.
I like the team and experimental focus with short feedback loops and the empowerment of people. As a recent publication, there is also some useful coverage of DevOps and Lean Startup. There are also useful links out to additional material where required. Well worth reading for a more holistic approach to implementing Lean at an enterprise level.

36 Lean UX: Designing Great Products with Agile Teams (2016, 208 pages, Jeff Gothelf & Josh Seden)
4* Lean UX is critical for interaction design and ideal for agile teams seeking to deliver winning user experiences iteratively and incrementally. The book covers driving vision with outcomes, collaborative design, MVP and prototyping, and how to use feedback and research. Additionally, from a transformation viewpoint, the book details integrating Lean UX and Agile, and making organizational shifts. This is a very readable and graphics-heavy (unsurprisingly) book to help teams create great products. It is worth reading Sprint after reading Lean UX to read more around the subject.
37 Sense and Respond: How Successful Organizations Listen to Customers and Create New Products Continuously (2017, 272 pages, Jeff Gothelf & Josh Seiden)
4* The dynamic duo of user experience are back! Sense & Respond is an outstanding book on transforming the way of work, through continuous collaboration with employees and customers. This is a high-level book advocating an enterprise culture change to move away from outdated industrial-era operational models and instead embrace change and focus on sensing and responding to customer and employee behaviors. Outcome-focused management embraces continuous change and continuous learning. This is a book for leadership modernization.
38 The Unicorn Project: A Novel about Developers, Digital Disruption, and Thriving in the Age of Data (2019, 352 pages, Gene Kim)
4* This is an exemplary novel on digital transformation and specifically DevOps. The Phoenix Project was a great book and this one is better. We follow senior lead developer and architect Maxine as she is exiled to the Phoenix Project.
The Phoenix Project highlighted The Three Ways, The Unicorn Project raises this with The Five Ideals.
Welcome to the Age of Software.
The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Win (2014, 382 pages, Gene Kim, Kevin Behr & George Spafford)

4* A modern-day parable about a dysfunctional IT department, Bill’s promotion to VP of IT Operations and their gradual adoption of DevOps and Lean. A well written, entertaining and funny view of how a company can be turned around by integrating IT into business operations.

Think Goldratt’s ‘The Goal’ mixed with ‘Rocks into Gold’ and ‘The Power of Scrum’ with some content from ‘The Five dysfunctions of a Team’, ‘Toyota Kata’, ‘Continuous Delivery’ and ‘Release it!’.

Well worth a read and please give a copy to anyone you know in operations.

40 User Story Mapping: Discover the Whole Story, Build the Right Product (2014, 324 pages, Jeff Patton & Peter Economy)

4* This book describes how to utilize user story mapping to gain a high-level view of your product without losing the big picture. Also covered are user stories in real usage and how they are developed.

There are great quotes in this book such as “shared documents aren’t shared understanding” and “you can deliver half a baked cake, not a half-baked cake”.

41 The Principles of Product Development Flow: Second Generation Lean Product Development (2009, 304 pages, Donald Reinertsen)

4* This is an advanced level book on product development from a very experienced practitioner. Donald details 175 underlying principles within eight major areas.

This is a very dense book and takes effort to read but contains a great depth of knowledge that can be applied for product development. There is a lot of background theory, explanatory diagrams and some mathematical functions – all given to challenge how products are developed.

You will need reasonable engineering knowledge to understand this book, including the theory of constraints, queuing theory, lean and ‘the mythical man month’. A great book that demands a second reading.

42 Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web and Mobile Usability (2013, 216 pages, Steve Krug)
4* Profusely illustrated with quality content on intuitive navigation and information design. This is an update to a classic well-read book and ideal for content creators, plus web and mobile designers and developers
43 Rocket Surgery Made Easy: The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems (2009, 168 pages, Steve Krug)
4* Usability consultant and popular speaker Steve Krug describes an effective approach to usability testing that can be adopted by many software development teams. This is a short, colorful, entertaining and overall practical guide to finding and fixing usability problems in your applications. If you currently perform user testing then read this book to understand how to do it more effectively. And if you don’t do regular user testing, then buy copies for your whole team and get started.
44 The Art of Agile Development (2007, 440 pages, James Shore & Shane Warden)

4* This is a monster of a book with four hundred and forty large format pages of dense text with a small font.

This book is focused on Extreme Programming and how to apply every one of its technical practices. Pure XP is rare nowadays so it is a shame that the book is so religiously XP requiring full pair programming and an on-site customer.

This book is divided into:

  • Part 1. Getting Started
  • Part 2. Practicing XP
  • Part 3. Mastering Agility

There is a huge amount of useful material and good practice within this tome for developers on Agile projects. I would have liked the editing to be tighter to reduce typos and duplication but excepting this the suggestions are comprehensive, solid and pragmatic.

45 Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time (2014, 248 pages, Jeff Sutherland)

4* A very different type of Scrum book from the co-creator of Scrum. This book looks back at the last two decades of Scrum, how it started and developed over time, and why it is now used widely including outside of software development. High level and easy to read background to Scrum but do not expect it to give you any great insights.

46 Scrum: A revolutionary approach to building teams, beating deadlines and boosting productivity (2014, 256 pages, Jeff Sutherland)

4* Identical book to “Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time” shown above. The title and cover were changed for Europe for some unknown reason.

47 Software in 30 Days: How Agile Managers Beat the Odds, Delight Their Customers and Leave Competitors in the Dust (2012, 216 pages, Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland)

4* The books by Jeff Sutherland are never the detailed knowledge that is useful when developing with Scrum but what they do give you are the history and big-picture view of the framework.

It is good to understand the philosophy and reasoning behind the practices and to appreciate how we got to this point.

48 The Power of Scrum: Scrum is an iterative, incremental framework for project management often seen in agile software development, a type of software engineering (2011, 128 pages, Jeff Sutherland, Rini van Stolingen and Eelco Rustenburg)

4* This is the story of a Chief Technical Officer of a badly failing project adopting Scrum and living happily ever after (apologies for paraphrasing and spoiling the ending). Scrum presented via a fable in the style of the books ‘The Deadline’ or ‘The Phoenix Project’. Again, as you would expect from Jeff, a high-level hands-off view of Scrum, ideal for those who will not read a usual software book.

49 Agile Adoption Patterns: A Roadmap to Organisational Success (2008, 408 pages, Amr Elssamadisy)

4* This is a book of proven patterns and techniques for succeeding with Agile. A pattern is a particular problem and it’s solution context. The pattern format used is name, description, business value, sketch (fictional example), context, forces, therefore, adoption, but, variations and references.

The book is divided into five sections:

  1. Thoughts about software development
  2. Crafting an Agile adoption strategy
  3. The pattern catalog
  4. Case studies
  5. Appendices

Amr guides the reader in creating and evolving an optimal Agile adoption strategy by the use of groups of patterns targeted at specific problems (or smells). I like this book as it provides a wide range of patterns and good advice on what is practical in different situations for real teams. Along with good advice Amr provides practical ways of implementing it.

50 An Agile Adoption and Transformation Guide: Working with Organisational Culture (2012, 80 pages, Michael Sahota)

4* A very worthwhile read focusing on adoption and transformation approaches along with a framework to support this. The material on culture compatibility with Agile, Kanban and Craftsmanship is very interesting.

The section on identifying the causes of Agile adoption failure is also useful.

51 Unlocking Agility: An Insider’s Guide to Agile Enterprise Transformation (2018, 368 pages, Jorgen Hesselberg)
4* Excellent guide to agile enterprise transformation at larger organizations. The book starts with a case for agility, continues with the multiple dimensions of agile, and ending with a strategic guide to adoption. There are lots of tools, techniques and practices described – all in a very practical way with clear experience from the trenches.
52 Kanban and Scrum: Making the Most of Both (2009, 120 pages, Henrik Kniberg & Mattias Skarin)

4* Part 1 by Henrik compares Scrum and Kanban and highlights when and how to use each. Part 2 by Mattias is a case study on how a Scrum development company implemented Kanban in their operations and support teams.

This is a short book but worth reading for the advice upon choosing elements of Scrum and Kanban to use for your project.

53 Kanban from the Inside: Understand the Kanban Method, connect it to what you already know, introduce it with impact (2015, 270 pages, Mike Burrows)

4* Agendashift founder Mike Burrows writes an informative and useful book on understanding and implementing the Kanban Method.

Part 1 introduces Kanban in a new way through nine key values – transparency, balance, collaboration, customer focus, flow, leadership, understanding, agreement, and respect. Each value is explained with real-world experience and practical examples.

Part 2 details other models that assist understanding of the Kanban Method and help to implement it successfully. Models described include systems thinking, the theory of constraints, agile and the Toyota Production System.

Part 3 is focused on implementation and modeled on the Systems Thinking Approach to Introducing Kanban (STATIK). This section is great for both newcomers to Kanban and to experienced practitioners as it details how to understand what is required, and how to address the problem. Part 3 is a rich section of the document for practitioners and amongst the many sections are analyzing the demand and capability, modeling the workflow, designing Kanban systems and Roll Out.

If you are considering using Kanban or wishing to improve your implementation, read the blue book (Kanban – David Anderson) and then this one.

54 Essential Kanban Condensed (2016, 100 pages, David Anderson & Andy Carmichael)

4* This book provides a concise distillation of the Kanban method, updating advice based upon the experience of implementing Kanban since David Anderson’s original book in 2010.

Essential Kanban Condensed provides a short reference to the core concepts of the Kanban method, including the nine values, the three agendas, the six foundational principles and the six general practices. The book ends with broader chapters on Kanban including introducing it to organisations (STATIK), roles, forecasting and metrics.

If you are interested in a deeper understanding of Kanban and wish to use the different views in order to help your adoption then this is the right book for you.

55 Stop Starting, Start Finishing (2012, 36 pages, Anne Roock)

4* Although a short booklet at 27 pages of content (each with a hand-drawn graphic) Stop Starting, Start Finishing provides an excellent overview of the core concepts of Kanban with a parable of Justin the project manager.

Brief but useful, and perfect as a gift to project managers thinking about Kanban – sometimes less is more.

56 Kanban: Successful Evolutionary Change for your Technology Business (2010, 280 pages, David J. Anderson)

4* The originator of Kanban provides a guide to starting to use and further improve Kanban. David pioneered the Kanban technique whilst working at Microsoft in 2004 and finally published this book 2010.

Kanban provides a visual pull-based system for development and is increasingly popular from individuals through to teams and portfolios. This book provides a good introduction to Kanban and how to implement it at your organisation.

57 Kanban Maturity Model: Evolving Fit-for-Purpose Organizations (2018, 206 pages, David J Anderson & Teodora Bozheva)
4* The Kanban Maturity Model (KMM) is a powerful tool for Kanban coaches and transformation consultants to use in advising organizations on improvement using Kanban. The KMM uses seven levels of organizational maturity:
– ML0: Oblivious
– ML1: Emerging
– ML2: Defined
– ML3: Managed
– ML4: Quantitatively Managed
– ML5: Optimizing
– ML6: Congruent
This expensive book provides clear guidance on reviewing the current state and creating a roadmap with concrete actions to enable organizations to build business agility. There are 132 specific practices mapped against the six general practices of Kanban and the seven maturity levels presented within the KMM. There is a comprehensive set of example kanban boards showing the depth of the method. This book enables Kanban coaches to provide rapid value in their work.
58 Agile Testing: A Practical Guide for Testers and Agile Teams (2008, 576 pages, Lisa Crispin & Janet Gregory)

4* This book is aimed at testers and QAs along with Agile teams, managers and customers. With over 500 pages the focus is on how testers engage with Agile, how they fit on Agile teams and how to test in short iterations.

Agile Testing covers organizational challenges, Agile testing quadrants, test automation and a section on an iteration in the life of an Agile tester. Each chapter is headed with a mind-map to illustrate the concepts and enable content to be re-located quickly. Lisa and Janet are very experienced testers within Agile teams and share their own experience along with that of fellow Agile testers by the use of inset panels.

This book was written in 2008 and contains good advice to testers finding their place within Agile development. I like that it covers an area not normally present in other Agile books but I was surprised at its thickness. Some of the text is a little soft and the book certainly could have been shorter but it has good content and I look forward to reading the 2014 sequel More Agile Testing (also at over 500 pages…).

59 Business Model Generation (2010, 288 pages, Alexander Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur)

4* A great book introducing the business model canvas that can be used to understand, design and implement your business model.

Beautifully designed and presented material describing how to use modern business tools to improve your organization and the products it creates.

60 Value Proposition Design (2014, 320 pages, Alexander Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur & Gregory Barnada & Alan Smith & Trish Papadakos)

4* This book continues the development of the business model canvas into creating compelling products that people want to buy. The design is as beautiful as the first book and the exercises, examples, and tools all useful.

This is a proven methodology for identifying and addressing user needs when developing new products.

61 Testing Business Ideas (2019, 368 pages, David J. Bland & Alexander Osterwalder)
4* A solid guide to rapid experimentation to validate business ideas. The four sections are Design, Test, Experiments and Mindset. The experiments section around discovery and validation is the strongest.The paper is quite thin in this third volume compared with BMC and VPC but the design is still excellent and the colors vivid.
62 Kanban Change Leadership: Creating a Culture of Continuous Improvement (2015, 304 pages, Klaus Leopold & Siegfried Kaltenecker)
4* Klaus and Siegfried have created a comprehensive and practical reference book to modern Kanban. There are three sections – first a detailed foundation to the method, second the context to change and leadership, and third a deeper dive and large section on running a system design workshop. This is an expensive book with great depth across all elements of Kanban adoption and is perfect for Kanban coaches or transformation leadership.
63 The User Experience Team of One: A Research and Design Survival Guide (2013, 264 pages, Leah Buley)
4* An excellent guide on how to introduce UX practices into development teams to accelerate learning and produce better products. Leah writes authoritatively and confidently on the subject of how to get started in UX, build support, and perform discovery, research, design, testing and validation. The book itself is well designed and full of colorful figures. This is a great guide to driving UX techniques and producing better client outcomes.
64 UX for Lean Startups: Faster, Smarter User Experience Research and Design (2018, 233 pages, Laura Klein)
4* UX expert Laura Kein provides actionable advice on incorporating UX to take your product to market. This is not only a book for entrepreneurs creating startups, but also for everyone who wants to drive innovative practices into their development. The three sections of this book cover Validation, Design and Product – each with practical guidance and a push to action. Lastly, this book is fun! With sections titled “Loosely Related Rant” and “Go Do This Now”, you know to expect an opinionated and entertaining ride.
65 Agile IT Organisation Design: For Digital Transformation and Continuous Delivery (2015, 304 pages, Sriram Narayan)

4* Great book on designing and developing an Agile organization. Interesting and thorough chapters cover structure through team design with accountability, alignment, finance and metrics amongst other key areas.

With his deep experience with ThoughtWorks and as an IT management consultant, Sriram provides techniques for analyzing and improving the organizational design with Agile principles.

66 BDD in Action: Behavior-driven development for the whole software lifecycle (2014, 384 pages, John Ferguson Smart)
4* This is a solid guide to behavior-driven development from principles and practices through to real-world examples and more advanced topics including living documentation, parallel acceptance tests, and continuous integration. There are many examples of scenarios in a range of BDD tools and at the unit, integration and acceptance level. This is the first book to read on your test-first BDD journey.
67 Agile Metrics In Action: How to Measure and Improve Team Performance (2015, 272 pages, Christopher Davis)

4* It is so nice to read a low-level technical practices book on Agile that contains tools, scripts, and advice on producing metrics that matter. The book consists of three parts –

  1. Measuring Agile Teams
  2. Collecting and Analysing your Team’s Data
  3. Applying Metrics to your Teams, Processes, and Software

I liked the mind-mapping, code flower and practical real-world application of metrics for each level of reporting. I truly dislike the cover picture but the content is great.

68 Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers (2014, 288 pages, Geoffrey A. Moore)
4* This is a foundational volume on introducing cutting-edge products into large markets. The Technology Adoption Life Cycle is shown beginning with innovators and moving to early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards.
This new edition includes lots of examples, new strategies, technical adoption models, and connects to his book Inside the Tornado. I enjoyed reading this book and learning more on the technology adoption life cycle model which is still being incorrectly used most of the time that I see>
69 Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great (2006, 200 pages, Esther Derby & Diana Larsen)

3* A good guide in how to construct retrospectives, discover and resolve problems, address people’s problems and reinforce team strengths. Details different recipes that can be used for running retrospectives.

This is a great book to guide you through holding retrospectives, rotate through team members and have each pick an example from this book.

70 Innovation Games: Creating Breakthrough Products through Collaborative Play (2006, 192 pages, Luke Hohmann)

3* This book includes twelve games to enable collaboration between the business and its customers in order to improve understanding and determine the direction of product development. There are some great tools included to help with innovation and communication including Speed Boat, Prune the Product Tree, Remember the Future and Product Box.

If you are looking to have better conversations with your customers and to determine how to improve the effectiveness of development, marketing and sales then this is the book for you.

71 The Retrospective Handbook: A guide for agile teams (2013, 148 pages, Patrick Kua)

3* A good but relatively short and small book detailing how to run Agile retrospectives to maximize learning. The main chapters of this book are as follows:

  1. Retrospective Fundamentals
  2. Preparing for Retrospectives
  3. Facilitating Retrospectives
  4. First-Time Facilitation Tips
  5. Distributed Retrospectives
  6. Other Flavours of Retrospectives
  7. After the Retrospective
  8. Common Retrospective Smells
  9. Keeping Retrospectives Fresh
72 Agile Coaching (2009, 250 pages, Rachel Davies & Liz Sedley)

3* Informative content from two very experienced Agilists in how to apply Agile techniques effectively. All aspects of coaching are covered for Agile teams.

This is the perfect book for Scrum Masters and those starting in Agile coaching.

73 Coaching Agile Teams: A Companion for ScrumMasters, Agile Coaches, and Project Managers in Transition (2010, 352 pages, Lyssa Adkins)

3* This is one of those books which is ideal if you are at the right place in your coaching journey and annoying to probably everyone else.

Coaching Agile Teams is very soft-focused and helps Agile coaches to improve their teaching and effectiveness. As a past project manager and life coach, Lyssa brings many key coaching skills but be aware that this is not a book for people who want to see quick change and rapid improvement.

74 The Coach’s Casebook: Mastering the twelve traits that trap us (2015, 337 pages, Geoff Watts and Kim Morgan)

3* An excellent resource for coaching individuals upon a team. This book focuses on twelve common traits that hold people back and how to resolve them. If you are a coach or Scrum Master then this material is practical and immediately useful to help team members.


75 The Lean Machine: How Harley Davidson drive top-line growth and profitability with revolutionary Lean product development (2012, 274 pages, Dantar P. Oosterwal)

3* An entertaining account of how Lean product development techniques were implemented at Harley Davidson to radically improve the range of bikes released each year, reduce lead times and increase annual profits. If you liked The Phoenix Project then you will love this book.

Dantar worked at Harley Davidson from 1997 to 2006 and this book covers his time as director of product development. The book covers system thinking, learning cycles, set-based design, pull events, obeya and knowledge-based product development. It is great to see the over journey with the incremental change and the setbacks that happen in real transformation.

76 Extreme Programming Explained: Embrace Change (2004, 224 pages, Kent Beck and Cynthia Andres)

3* I thought it was about time that I read the second edition of this classic XP book. The original in 1999 seemed radical to me at the time and still several of the practices such as (100%) pair programming and a co-located customer sitting (full-time) with the team seem unachievable.

I think Beck mellowed in five years, additionally, the software development industry has moved on and XP seems much less revolutionary. Some of the technical practices of XP are used within Scrum and other Agile practices but as a solo methodology XP is very rarely used (a notable exception being Unruly in London which I visited a few weeks back).

The book has expanded since the first edition and now includes five core values, eleven principles plus thirteen primary and eleven corollary practices that expand the scope of extreme programming. There is more content in this edition on aligning business and technical decisions as well as team-based collaboration. As a historic book and the start of a software practice, I give ‘Extreme Programming Explained: Embrace Change’ three stars out of five. My hesitation is that you will need to read wider to actually implement any XP practices as this book does not provide sufficient guidance

77 Making Work Visible: Exposing Time Theft to Optimize Work & Flow (2017, 376 pages, Dominica Degrandis)
3* This is a beautiful book on improving your development process by focusing on the five thieves of time. Kanban flow expert Dominica characterizes the five thieves of time:
– Too much work in progress
– Unknown dependencies
– Unplanned work
– Conflicting priorities
– Neglected work
This book is full of colorful diagrams, exercises, real-work examples, and effective advice. This is a very useful guide to make your work visible and improving it (especially if you use Kanban).
78 Retromat Retromat: Combine 50 Activities for Agile Retrospectives – 10 for each of 5 Phases (2016, 50 pages, Corinna Baldauf)

3* A flipbook containing fifty retrospective activities, ten for each of the following five phases:

  1. Set the Stage
  2. Gather Data
  3. Generate Insight
  4. Decide What to Do
  5. Close the Retro

This is the print version of the Retromat which is available directly from Corinna, alternatively, the web version can be used which contains over 120 different activities. I think a physical flipbook is a great idea and can be used to flick through for ideas and for building a retrospective plan. This is practical and immediately usable to keep retrospectives interesting and insightful.

79 Startup, Scaleup, Screwup: 42 Tools to Accelerate Lean & Agile Business Growth (2019, 240 pages, Jurgen Appelo)
3* Another great book from speaker, trainer and serial entrepreneur Jurgen Appelo. Jurgen covers the lifecycle of new businesses as they explore market opportunities, develop product/market fit, and then scale. The 25 short chapters cover critical knowledge for startups and back this up with interviews, entertaining personal experience (from Jurgen’s Agility Scales startup), and delightful sketches.
80 Actionable Agile Metrics for Predictability: An Introduction (2015, 314 pages, Daniel S. Vacanti)
A thoughtful, provoking, informative and genuinely useful study to agile metrics focusing on flow and predictability. Daniel covers cumulative flow diagrams, cycle time scatterplots, cycle time histograms and how to use these tools to improve your process. This is an in-depth read and validly challenges commonly accepted practices. If you are looking to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your agile teams, then this is a valuable read.
81 Agile Project Management with Kanban (2015, 160 pages, Eric Brechner)

3* As the Xbox engineering service development manager, Eric provides practical advice on using Kanban across the full organization.

Following a good explanation of how to implement Kanban there are chapters on how to transition to Kanban from Waterfall or Scrum. Further chapters cover deployment, larger organizational use, sustained engineering (DevOps) and moving Kanban beyond engineering.

Eric has shown a lot of success at Microsoft with Kanban and highlights this with many stories of its practical application. This is great, it might also have been nice to see situations where Kanban is one element of a solution or even not the answer – this may have made this a more rounded book.

82 Real-World Kanban: Do Less, Accomplish More with Lean Thinking (2015, 140 pages, Mattias Skarin)

3* As a Lean and Kanban coach Mattias gives an overview of the concepts and then dives into four case studies:

  1. Enterprise Kanban: Improve the Full Value Chain
  2. Kanban in Change Management
  3. Using Kanban to Save a Derailing Project
  4. Using Kanban in the Back Office: Outside IT

This is a very practical book, covering real projects and how Kanban and Lean were used to improve them. The text is conversational and focuses on what was tried and what worked, or didn’t. There are colour diagrams and photographs throughout to assist with understanding.

Overall, well worth a read if you want to improve your existing Kanban implementation.

83 Practical Kanban: From Team Focus to Creating Value (2017, 353 pages, Klaus Leopold)
3* Experienced coach Klaus presents an authoritative and comprehensive guide to the enterprise adoption of Kanban. The book is deeper than the usual Kanban guides and looks at fundamental principles, and more importantly, how to apply effective Kanban across your organization.I loved the first half of the book and the assertion that Kanban is not simply a team method, but instead optimizes companies value streams. The second half of the book which covers scaling, forecasting and risk assessment is too long for me and should be made clearer and more concise.
84 A Scrum Book: The Spirit of the Game (2019, 540 pages, Jeff Sutherland & James Coplien & The Scrum Patterns Group)
3* This is a massively important book for those seeking to understand the principles of the Scrum framework, why it works and how best to take advantage of it. It is written by Scrum co-founder Jeff Sutherland, pattern language expert Cope and the Scrum Patterns Community (luckily with a better new name than ScrumPlop). The material is also available online at if you don’t need a paper version. There are 94 patterns described in some detail with advice on their adoption and many real-world examples. My only question is to who it is aimed at? A reviewer said “it is an ideal book for new Scrum Masters” – that it is not. This is probably better as a book to dip in and out of to create your own pattern language. It would be great for experienced agile coaches, improving Scrum teams and those with interest in creating high-performance teams.If you are looking to invest your team in reading it all the way through then set aside some of your life (it is a very long and detailed book), get ready to make many notes, and plan how to experiment with these patterns. The book is indulgent in a few places, irritating in several more, and needs tighter editing to restrict its length – generally though, an awesome work.
85 Reality is Broken: Why Games Make us Better and How They Can Change the World (2012, 416 pages, Jane McGonigal)

3* Jane McGonigal’s presentation as part of the ‘game designer rant panel’ at the 2008 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco launched her into the limelight for alternate reality game development and for utilizing games to radically transform the way we live and work.

Jane’s TED talks on ‘Gaming can make a better world‘ and ‘The game that can give you 10 extra years of life‘ have also been hugely popular as well as being thought-provoking and a rallying call for change.

From an Agile context looking through the 14 fixes within this book you can see a clear link to many Agile practices:

  • Fix 1: Unnecessary obstacles
  • Fix 2: Emotional Activation
  • Fix 3: More satisfying work
  • Fix 4: Better hope of success
  • Fix 5: Stronger social connectivity
  • Fix 6: Epic scale
  • Fix 7: Wholehearted participation
  • Fix 8: Meaningful rewards when we need them most
  • Fix 9: More fun with strangers
  • Fix 10: Happiness hacks
  • Fix 11: A sustainable engagement economy
  • Fix 12: More epic wins
  • Fix 13: Ten thousand hours collaborating
  • Fix 14: Massively multiplayer foresight

This book is a good read for those looking to challenge ways that people learn and work. Additionally if you enjoy gamification and see it as a way to engage with people and improve success then you will enjoy Reality is Broken.

Reinventing Organizations: A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage of Human Consciousness (2014, 380 pages, Frederic Laloux)

3* Laloux details the organization stages of evolution that humanity has moved through along with a description of the radically more productive model created each time there is a shift.

This is a very well written and detailed study of organizational types including current Red, Amber, Orange, Green, and Teal. The majority of the book focuses on the emergence of Teal organization along with their structures, practices, and cultures.

This is a very useful resource for cultural change and organization leaders.

87 Beyond Measure: The Big Impact of Small Changes (2015, 107 pages, Margaret Heffernan)

3* Margaret Heffernan is an entrepreneur, author of Willful Blindness and popular TED speaker. In this compact TED book, she looks at the accumulation of small actions that generate and sustain culture.

Beyond Measure is innovative, challenging and intelligent in the way it ties together theory and real-world examples to reinforce modern thinking on organizational behavior.

This is a beautifully produced book, small and hardback, with exceptional illustrations – suitable for reading on the move and gifting to your friends.

88 Corporate Rebels: Make work more fun (2020, 224 pages, Joost Minnaar & Pim de Morree)
3*Joost and Pim quit their corporate jobs in 2016 and sought out visionaries’ workplaces to learn from and share via their Corporate Rebels blog. This fascinating book captures what they have learned on their journey to the most innovative workplaces across the world. Pin and Joost won the Radar Award at the Thinkers50 2019 Awards Gala.
Read this book to be inspired on how to create better companies that make work fun and benefit immensely from the transformation. There is great content on how companies continue to transform over time as circumstances change and also how some past lauded transformations have reverted. I recommend that you read this book if you have any interest in modern organizational design.
89 Holacracy: The Revolutionary Management System that Abolishes Hierarchy (2015, 240 pages, Brian J Robertson)
3* Holacracy is a systemic change to a new organisational structure based on nested circles resolving governance and tactical tensions. It moves away from the ‘predict and control’ company style developed from the 1900s, to sets of people with clear delegated authority for each specific role.With holacracy there is a need to change all of the company’s structure and is thus disruptive, revolutionary and difficult – at least initially. I agree with the author that there is a wider move away from centralised, static control systems towards peer-to-peer, social and emergent order and this is going to take time.Currently used by over 300 organisations including Zappos and Arca, Holacracy is still in it’s infancy but it is worth watching as an interesting movement for radical organisational change.
90 Being Agile: Your Roadmap to Successful Adoption of Agile (2013, 270 pages, Mario E. Moreira)

3* A detailed approach to adopting Agile for products and companies from an experienced Agile coach. This book covers setting up teams, validating the application of Agile and adapting for needs and specific conditions.

91 Strategize: Product Strategy and Product Roadmap Practices for the Digital Age (2016, 172 pages, Roman Pichler)

3* Strategize is a practical and effective book detailing proven techniques to create product strategies and roadmaps. Roman explains the tools needed and provides examples of their implementation.

The book is divided into two main sections:

Part 1: Product Strategy

  • Strategy Foundations
  • Strategy Development
  • Strategy Validation

Part 2: Product Roadmap

  • Roadmap Foundations
  • Roadmap Development
  • Roadmap Changes
  • Portfolio Roadmaps

If you are a product manager or product owner, then this is a great resource to point you towards useful tools and techniques.

92 Accelerate: The Science of Lean Software and Devops: Building and Scaling High Performing Technology Organizations (2018, 255 pages, Nicole Forsgren & Jez Humble)
3* A compelling and scientifically rigorous study into DevOps success factors. Based on four years of research, including the State of DevOps reports created with Puppet, this book provides recommendations on how to measure performance and develop capability. There is the perennial correlation does not prove causation fallacy to contend with (which is covered in the book) but is still difficult to resolve. This book includes strong advice on where to invest your time and money to accelerate your development.
93 Project to Product: How to Survive and Thrive in the Age of Digital Disruption with the Flow Framework (2019, 272 pages, Mike Kersten)
3* A useful book on how to adopt the flow framework and change from project-centric development to product-focused value. The case study at the start of each chapter is the BMW assembly line which is interesting but lean manufacturing is very different from lean software development. There is good coverage of value stream networks and flow metrics but the ending needs reworking to be more practical and less of a sales pitch for data integration tool Tasktop.
94 Design Systems: A Practical Guide to Creating Design Languages for Digital Products (2017, 277 pages, Alla Kholmatova)
3* This is a great book on the relatively new topic of design systems by expert UX and interaction designer Alla Kholmatova. To start, I have to say that this is another beautiful book from Smashing Media – hardcover, ribbon bookmark and full color throughout. The content is great too of course. The book is split into two parts:

  • Part 1 sets up the foundations of a design system – patterns and practices.
  • Part 2 covers the process of establishing and maintaining a design system.

This book provides a practical and effective guide to improving how customers perceive and use your product.

95 More Effective Agile: A Roadmap for Software Leaders (2019, 379 pages, Steve McConnell)
3* Steve McConnell, author of Code Complete, Rapid Development, and Software Estimation, writes at length and with great depth on agile from a software leadership viewpoint.The book details how to create more effective teams, perform more effective work and generate more effective organizations. There is useful information in this book but it is fragmented and lacks a beating heart. More graphics, real-world stories and a driving practical theme would have helped raise this book in an already crowded market.
96 Release It! Design and Deploy Production-Ready Software (2018, 376 pages, Michael T. Nuggard) – second edition
3* Eighty percent of project lifecycle costs can occur in production so why aren’t there more great books like this one on how to design and architect applications for release and operations? If you want to avoid critical system failures, understand the techniques for resilient systems, and spend more of your life stress free then read this book. A second edition will be published in February 2018 to cover larger, more complex cloud-native applications and chaos engineering.
97 Building the Agile Business through Digital Transformation (2017, 288 pages, Neil Perkin & Peter Abraham)
3* An in-depth guide to digital transformation and business acceleration in five parts:1. The Digital-Native Organization2. Velocity3. Focus4. Flexibility5. The Transformation JourneyThe material is dense and detailed with a wealth of resources to provide further reading. This is more of an essential reference than a quick read but if you are looking at organization change then this will be a valuable resource for you.
98 The Nexus Framework for Scaling Scrum: Continuously Delivering an Integrated Product with Multiple Scrum Teams (2017, 176 pages, Kurt Bittner & Patricia Kong & Dave West)
3* The Nexus framework was created by Scrum co-inventor Ken Schwaber at in 2015. It focuses on scaling Scrum up from the development team level with the explanation: “Nexus is a framework that enables multiple Scrum Teams to collaboratively work from a single Product Backlog to deliver at least one “Done” Integrated Increment every Sprint.”
Nexus extends Scrum with:
• One additional artefact: the Nexus Sprint Backlog,
• Five additional events: Refinement, Nexus Spring Planning, Nexus Daily Scrum, Nexus Sprint Review (which replaces the individual team Sprint Review), and the Nexus Sprint Retrospective.
• One new role: the Nexus Integration team
If you are looking to scale agile then you should read this book in addition to corresponding Nexus Guide. The enterprise scaling market is led by SAFe, with the “Spotify Model” and LeSS increasing share, and DA reducing. Nexus and S@S don’t seem to be making a dent in the market yet but they have potential.
99 An Executive’s Guide to Disciplined Agile: Winning the Race to Business Agility (2017, 206 pages, Scott Ambler & Mark Lines)

3* This is a very useful book for senior leadership learning how to improve business agility with the Disciplined Agile framework. The book covers Disciplined Agile Delivery, Disciplined DevOps, Disciplined Agile IT and the Disciplined Enterprise. I am not a great fan of the mind-map graphic style but the transformation advice is sound.

100 Agendashift: Outcome-oriented Change and Continuous Transformation (2018, 178 pages, Mike Burrows)
3* There is a lot to like in the modern approach to lean-agile transformation detailed in this small volume. Mike Burrows, author of the excellentKanban from the Inside book writes with authority and deep understanding of Agendashift, an outcome-oriented change and continuous transformation approach using a five-stage model – Discovery, Exploration, Mapping, Elaboration, and Operation.
The book pulls together several modern approaches including True North, road mapping, clean language, HDD, lean startup, story mapping, etc. The concepts are covered through exercises and workshops which makes the book perfect for agile coaches and scrum masters.
My only annoyance, and the reason it did not rate four stars, is that the Agendashift Delivery Assessment critical to the process is the shortened edition that you can request trial access to and not the full version for which you need to join the partner program and pay an annual subscription for. I want to buy a book and use it fully, not be concerned that I am using a deliberately limited version which clients may challenge me on.
101 Manage Your Project Portfolio: Increase Your Capacity, Manage More Projects (2016, 200 pages, Johanna Rothman) – second edition

3* This is an interesting new book on using agile and lean practices within project portfolio management. Manage your Project Portfolio provides an interesting and entertaining guide to:
• creating a portfolio view of all active work at your organisation
• managing the work being performed
• collaborating, decision making and iterating on the portfolio
• scaling portfolio management to the enterprise
• evolving the portfolio, measuring value and defining a mission
This is a practical guidebook with “Now Try This” sections to encourage action from its readers. There is a large amount of useful real-world advice along with stories to reinforce the points made.

102 96 Visualization Examples: How Great Teams Visualize their work – Toolbox for the Agile Coach (2015, 124 pages, Jimmy Janlen)

3* This is a great little book (11cm x 15cm) with 96 visualisation examples, each on a single full colour page. The book is written by an Agile coach to help Agile teams visualise information in order to resolve issues.

There are many immediately useful tools included within this book for all teams to experiment with and evolve.

103 Agile Change Management: A Practical Framework for Successful Change Planning and Implementation (2014, 288 pages, Melanie Franklin)

3* Melanie is co-chair of the change management institute and has a long history of business transformation and programme management. This book covers Agile change initiatives over six chapters – concept, principles, roadmap, business need, relationship building and environment.

It is a very dense book and not an easy read, much of the content is standard change management and not specific to Agile. It does contain real value, especially on roles but could be written in a clearer and more specific way.

104 How to Change the World: Change Management 3.0 (2012, 88 pages, Jurgen Appelo)

3* This is a short book from Management 3.0 author Jurgen Appelo summarising an approach to making and sustaining organisational change. This as a good introduction to change management as it consolidates and summarises techniques from a high level and references out to many individual methods and to other related books.

105 Scrum: A Pocket Guide: A Smart Travel Companion (2013, 112 pages, Gunter Verheyen)

3* This is a short and physically small book (12.2cm x 18cm) that includes a well written and clear description of Scrum.

Gunther works with Ken Schwaber at and this pocket guide provides a good source for the Professional Scrum Master (PSM 1) certification exam (multi-choice quiz).

Well worth a read, especially if you want to do any of the qualifications.

106 Practices of an Agile Developer (2006, 176 pages, Venkat Subramaniam & Andy Hunt)

3* This book is part of the ‘Pragmatic Programmers’ series which I think are all pretty good and this one is no different.

The book compiles the habits, ideas and approaches of successful Agile software developers into forty-five tips or practices to follow. I liked the ‘What It Feels Like’ section of each ‘tip’ as it provides good information for a new team on how each practice should feel. I did not like the devil/guardian angel sections which are just confusing as you read through, a good read but there are better (see above).

107 Liftoff: Launching Agile Teams & Projects (2011, 170 pages, Diana Larsen & Ainsley Nies)

3* Diana and Ainsley have written a very clear guide on how to form teams and launch projects. The book consists of two parts:

  • Liftoff – planning, designing and improving launches
  • Chartering – purpose, alignment and context

The remainder of the book provides sample charters and a glossary of Liftoff terminology.

108 Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration (2014, 368 pages, Ed Catmull)
3* The story of Pixar from its president Ed Catmull, and also a business management guide. This is a very useful book for understanding how to create a creative and innovative culture and how to sustain it long-term. Tying it all in with Pixar’s and Disney Animations’ history makes it fascinating.
109 Adapt: Why Success Always Starts With Failure (2012, 320 pages, Tim Harford)
3* Highly accessible guidance from economic missionary Tim Harwood to move towards an adaptive organization. Great advice about understanding complex problems, embracing ambiguity and accepting failure as part of the process. There are great real-world examples highlighted in each chapter culminating in three rules:1) Always try new things, knowing that some will fail.
2) Always try to make failure survivable.
3) Always know when you’ve failed.
110 The Culture Game: Tools for the Agile Manager (2012, 306 pages, Daniel Mezick)

3* Interesting book on team building, enterprise-level change and culture hacking. The first section on tribal learning is excellent whereas the patterns and practices section is comprehensive but a long read.

A reasonable book to think about larger company level change for managers and culture hackers.

111 The Dream Team Nightmare (2013, 304 pages, Portia Tung)
3* This is a great information-packed interactive book based upon classic ‘turn to page xx’ gamebooks. It is not as good as ‘The Warlock of Firetop Mountain’ 🙂 but is much better at showing the Scrum framework, dysfunctional teams, Agile coaching, typical Agile problems and solutions.
112 Personal Kanban: Mapping Work | Navigating Life (2011, 216 pages, Jim Benson & Tonianne DeMaria Barry)
3* Personal Kanban applies Lean principles to individual and teamwork. The two rules of personal Kanban are:
1. Visualise Your Work
2. Limit Your Work-In-ProgressJim Benson founded Modus Cooperandi with Corey Ladas (Scrumban author) and David Anderson (Kanban author) where they established Kanban for software development. Jim and Corey created the personal Kanban board to visualise and manage their team’s work.In addition to the technique’s history and principles, there is guidance on building your first personal Kanban:
– Step One: Get your stuff ready
– Step Two: Establish your value stream
– Step Three: Establish your backlog
– Step Four: Establish your WIP limit
– Step Five: Begin to pull
– Step Six: Reflect
This book includes practical advice on creating and evolving personal Kanban boards and is realistic in recognising that every board is context driven and thus different.This book could be a lot shorter and overall has been eclipsed by David Anderson’s work but is still a valuable read.
113 The Great ScrumMaster #ScrumMasterWay (2017, 176 pages, Zuzana Sochova)

3* Zuzana is an independent Agile coach, trainer and certified Scrum trainer in the Czech Republic. She writes on the subject of Scrum mastery with deep skill and long experience. This book provides an effective guide to new Scrum Masters on how to better understand the role and develop their capability.

The #ScrumMasterWay describes how to grow through three levels – My Team, Relationships and the Entire System. The book details how to develop cognitive strategies and core competencies. There are also high-level views on useful models and tools, including Shu Ha Ri, root cause analysis (fish bone, five whys), impact mapping etc.

If you are currently a scrum master or you are interested in becoming one then this book is worth reading. It is relatively short at 176 pages and includes many useful diagrams, overall it should take around a weekend to complete. Working through the exercises in each chapter will help scrum masters develop their skills and be effective in their role.

114 Good to Great (2001, 320 pages, Jim Collins)
3* Very impressive guide to building enduring great companies based on five years of in-depth research and insights. 1,435 companies were investigated to find the common traits of success and how companies moved from good to great. This is a very influential book that has validated successful organizations and the leadership style of the CEO.
115 Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lean and Win (2017, 352 pages, Jocko Willink & Leif Babin)
3* Amazing and inspiring book on creating great leaders by taking ownership for mistakes and failures. Twelve chapters reinforce the extreme ownership principles by sharing an actual combat story, detailing the principle itself, and examining its application to business. The grainy photographs from Ramada support the outstanding war stories and build credibility for the leadership principles presented. I recommend anyone who leads others to read this book, and that in a modern age is everyone.
116 Turn the Ship Around: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders (2015, 272 pages, David Marquet)
3* Must read leadership story by nuclear submarine captain David Marquet of how a challenged crew became the best team in the US fleet. This is a great story showing how to build an engaged team with vision, empowerment and autonomy. The guidance for leadership at every level is very clear and in line with the best modern thinking on creating high-performance teams.
117 The Product Samurai: A Product Manager’s Guide to Continuous Innovation (2016, 236 pages, Chris Lukassen)
3* Beautifully designed hardback book filled with color graphics and way too many pictures of Chris in his angry white pyjamas doing martial arts. There are sections that cover vision, winning, crafting and “leaving the dojo” with useful information but the long-running martial arts analogies (Chis is a blue belt in Judo and a green belt in Jujutsu) become painful. There are some useful summaries of product ownership tools but 45 pages of posing martial arts photos is just too much for me. Read Product Mastery and Strategize instead to avoid having to enter the dojo
118 Agile Portfolio Management (2008, 240 pages, Jochen Krebs)

3* The purpose of this book is to explain how to manage an Agile development portfolio. The first 50 pages cover ‘Agile for Managers’ which is a little forgettable, the second part of 120 pages covers ‘Defining, Planning and Measuring Portfolios’, this is a lot better and is useful from a portfolio level. Part 3 at just 23 pages covers ‘Organisation and Environment’, specifically the PMO

This book is a worthwhile read for those considering the PMO within an Agile context, there are two problems for me –

  1. The book is seven years old and Agile has moved on.
  2. Some of the content could be a lot more Agile, I am not sure if this is because of Jochen’s RUP past or just due to the age (of the book).

Even so there is not a lot of material available at the PMO level so if this is your focus have a read and then consider what has changed since publication.

119 The Enterprise and Scrum (2007, 178 pages, Ken Schwaber)

3* A how-to book for expanding Scrum from individual teams to the entire enterprise. As usual with Ken he presents his knowledge as a set of stories backed up by years of Agile experience. A good book as you would expect from the co-creator of Scrum but does not include the required detail to be really useful.

120 Agile Project Management with Scrum (2004, 188 pages, Ken Schwaber)

3* Real-world lessons from the co-creator of Scrum based on his many years of experience. A good book to learn from the stories of other companies using Scrum to improve their engineering performance.

121 Agile Product Management with Scrum: Creating Products that Customers Love (2010, 160 pages, Roman Pichler)

3* A very good guide to Agile product management from a leading Scrum consultant.

Fifty Quick Ideas to Improve your Retrospectives (2015, 124 pages, Tom Roden, Ben Williams & Nikola Koras)

3* Fifty ideas to enhance retrospectives and produce better outcomes. Ideal book for team facilitators, scrum masters and coaches to reenergise the continuous improvement cycle. Good practitioner advice to improve retrospectives with fun illustrations.

123 Project Retrospectives: A Handbook for Team Reviews (2001, 268 pages, Norman L. Kerth)

3* This book is targeted at facilitators running retrospectives for projects. Each chapter begins with an illustration and a short story followed by the detail:

  1. Introduction to Retrospectives
  2. Anatomy of a Retrospective: A Case Study
  3. Engineering a Retrospective: Making Choices
  4. Selling a Retrospective
  5. Preparing for a Retrospective
  6. Retrospective Exercises
  7. Leading a Postmortem
  8. Postmortem Exercises
  9. On Becoming a Skilled Retrospective Facilitator
  10. After the Retrospective

Project Retrospectives describes the background to retrospectives, how to design the retrospective and provides a comprehensive set of retrospective (successful project) and postmortem (failed project) exercises.

It is interesting to compare end of project retrospectives with the more frequent retrospectives we hold in Agile. This is a useful book for facilitators looking to understand how retrospectives work and how to to gain the most from them.

124 The Connected Company (2012, 304 pages, Dave Gray & Thomas Vander Wal)

3* Dave Gray (author of Game Storming and Liminal Thinking) and Thomas Vander Wal (social business consultant and Information Architecture Institute founder) describe the market changes brought about by an interconnected customer community leading to massive disruption and great opportunities.
Part one Why Change? looks at how customers are adopting disruptive technologies faster than companies can adapt. Focus has moved from short-term projects, through developing products, to everything is a service.
Part two What is a Connected Company? states that to adapt. Companies must operate not as machines but as learning organisms purposefully interacting with their environment ad continuously improving, based on experiments and feedback. This section looks at learning, purpose, feedback and experiments within connected companies.
Part three How Does a Connected Company Work? summary is a connected company learns and adapts by distributing control to the points of interaction with customers, where semi-autonomous pods pursue a common purpose supported by platforms that help them organise and coordinate their activities. This part suggests how to solve complexity in organisations by using holarchies, in this case pods. Pods are small autonomous units authorised to represent the company and deliver customer value.
Part four How Do You Lead a Connected Company? states connected companies are living, learning networks that live within larger networks. Power in networks comes from awareness and influence, not control. Leaders must create an environment of clarity, trust, and shared purpose, while management focuses on designing and tuning the system that supports learning and performance. This section focuses on strategy as experiments, the leadership role, and managing the connected company.
Part five How Do You Get There from Here? states any enterprise involves risk, and connected companies are no exception. Connected companies can fail. But in times of change and uncertainty, their ability to learn and adapt faster than their competitors gives them an edge. If you want to become a connected company, there’s no reason you can’t start today. The final section looks at the risks of connectedness and how to start the journey.
To summarise, change is disrupting faster than companies can adapt. Hierarchical, top-down, command-and-control organisations are unable to deliver high-quality customer service. Organisations must re-structure to focus on service delivery to its customers. Outcomes are key with the main metric being the net promotor score. Involve your customers, network widely, use social media and connect. Make the customer the centre of your network and organise around them.

125 Game Storming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers (2010, Dave Gray, Sunni Brown & James Macanufo)

3* This book contains over eighty games to generate new ideas, boost innovation and aid collaboration. The tools and exercises in this book are good for facilitating workshops and increasing productivity through play.

Although there are a wide range of great game ideas, I am struggling to think how I could actually use many of them within an Agile context.

126 Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (2011, 256 pages, Daniel Pink)

3* I like Daniel Pink and enjoyed his TED talk on the puzzle of motivation. This book examines motivation based on external carrot-and-stick methods as used by many businesses and finds out why it no longer works. Daniel details what he calls Motivation 3.0 that is based on three essential elements:

  1. Autonomy – independence, the desire to control our own lives
  2. Mastery – skill, the urge to gain comprehensive knowledge at something that matters
  3. Purpose – goal, the personal wish to serve a larger reason

There are some great insights and many links to scientific studies that go against the typical tools used by companies to motivate their employees. I liked this book and think we should all consider how we can better motivate people the people around us.

127 Death March (2003, 224 pages,Edward Yourdon)

3* As co-inventor of the Coad/Yourdon methodology, (co)author of 25 books, computer hall of fame member and with his deep knowledge of software projects he examines in this book how to identify and survive doomed projects.

One definition for a project death march is when the likelihood of failure is at least fifty percent. I have been on two death march projects that were arduous and painful and I personally recognise much of the content of this book. This is a very entertaining and helpful book on how to transform or at least survive death march projects

I recommend this book to anyone already on a project that appears unachievavble and to everyone else who want to avoid being on one of these projects.

128 Scaling Software Agility: Best Practices for Large Enterprises (2007, 384 pages, Dean Leffingwell)

3* This is Dean’s favorite book and it contains in-depth considerations for many Agile aspects of scaling. There has obviously been a lot of thought and practical experience behind the writing of this book. The book predates SAFe by four years but you can see the origin of some of the practices such as the release train, component teams and the architectural runway.

The book contains three parts:

Part I: Overview of Software Agility

Part II: Seven Agile Team Practices That Scale

Part III: Creating the Agile Enterprise

Scaling Software Agility has some good content but has been superceded by SAFe and LeSS in the marketplace. For this reason I still recommend it for an interesting read but do not expect to get too much practical advice from it that you will not see elsewhere (for example within the SAFe framework).

129 Joy, Inc. How We Built A Workplace People Love (2013, 288 pages, Richard Sheridan)

3* This book describes how Richard Sheridan founded the Menlo Software Factory in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It provides insights into the company’s methodology and the success they have enjoyed. Useful background history provides a grounding to the ideas and why they are used.

The weekly paper based sprint planning is excellent with tasks written onto notes which are folded to represent estimate sizes. The customer can then prioritise work by fitting them into a rectangle representing the week’s work. This is a great and simple visualisation that helps everyone to be realistic and honest.

I was less comfortable with the task tracking by taping work onto a wall-mounted time-based plan. This hour based task list for each pair (Menlo uses a lot of XP practices) has a line across it showing the current day, this shows tasks that are ahead or behind schedule. This is a very controlled method of work optimisation and is done in a good, well-intentioned way but differs from most agile used today.

The joyful culture at Menlo has been purposefully created with a sustainable model and collaboration between passionate, empowered employees. I recommend reading this book to understand that there is a better way to create outstanding software that addresses user’s needs.

130 A Deep Dive into Agile: A Collection of White Papers from Menlo Innovations (2013, 192 pages, The Menlo Innovations Team)

3* Thirteen thoughtful white papers from Menlo practitioners split into five sections:
– An Executives Perspective
– A Project Manager’s Perspective
– A Developer’s Perspective
– A Quality Advocate’s Perspective
– Hiring for an Agile World
The papers cover real-world experience from varied project roles. It is great to see so many extreme programming techniques used together successfully. I still struggle with some of Menlo’s practices of management over developer empowerment but they are doing so well it is hard to complain.

131 Innovative Exploration: A Tour of the Menlo Software Factory (2013, 80 pages, The Menlo Innovations Team)

3* The Menlo Software Factory in Michigan is an excellent example of an Agile organisation using extreme programming.

Menlo’s ambitious mission is to ‘end human suffering in the world as it relates to technology’. Modelling itself on Thomas Edison’s ‘invention factory’, Menlo is aggressively open-plan and collaborative with small co-located teams clustered near visual boards. Pairing and fast experiments enable rapid product development for engaged customers.

Although this book is short, it is full of detailed colour photographs showing the workspace at Menlo. Innovative Exploration treads a fine line between being aspirational and pragmatic, and in so doing reveals a successful software company delighting its customers.

132 SAFe 4.0 Reference Guide: Scaled Agile Framework for Lean Software and Systems Engineering (2016, 576 pages, Dean Leffingwell)

3* Imagine the Scaled Agile Framework website printed out into a book and this is basically what you get here. 576 A4 pages of text with some coloured pictures to break it up.

There is an awful lot of material on SAFe within this book, this is a good thing I guess and it is well formatted into individual chapters but it is a heavy and long read – good luck.

If you are looking for a SAFe book to pass the SAFe Agilist exam then this is a good choice, otherwise read something more fun and informative.

133 The Agile Organization: How to build an innovative, sustainable and resilient business (2015, 288 pages, Linda Holbeche)

3* The Agile Organisation examines how to build in agility and resilience at the individual, team and organisation levels. With the use of the latest research and her own experience as a management consultancy practitioner, coach, researcher and professor Linda Hobeche examines how to transform companies to innovative enterprises able to successfully develop and implement strategy fast.

This book contains a huge amount of heavily researched and cross-referenced material covering many areas of change including HR, organisational development, engagement and leadership. The density of the content unfortunately has a negative effect on the readability, this is a long and hard read but does contain real value if you persevere. Although there are case studies and checklists the material does seem somewhat detached from actual business transformation. I would have liked to see more practical advice and clear steps on how to implement this knowledge in your own organisation.

134 Kanban in 30 Days (2015, 106 pages, Tomas Björkholm & Jannika Björkholm)
3* This is a short and informative 30-day action plan for adopting Kanban. This book includes a Kanban overview, getting to know your system, visualizing your process, roles, improving your process, WIP limits and release planning. Good guidance with exercises to teach Kanban.
135 Creating Great Teams: How Self-Selection Lets People Excel (2015, 100 pages, Sandy Mamoli & David Mole)
3* Lean how running a self-selection event can increase performance, improve morale and produce better outcomes for your organization. This book covers the restructuring of teams at New Zealand’s Trade Me e-commerce company. This is a Pragmatic express book and is succinct and to the point at less than eighty pages of content. Worth reading if you are looking at restructuring your teams, especially when moving to a product model.
136 Continuous Integration: Improving Software Quality and Reducing Risk (2007, 336 pages, Paul M Duval)
3* This is a great introduction to CI, if becoming a little dated after a decade. The principles and practices remain valid and show how to create a painless and reliable development pipeline.
Part 1 provides an overview of CI and part 2 is focused on how to create a full-featured CI system. A worthwhile read with a website to provide broader, updated examples.
137 Thinking, Fast and Slow (2012, 512 pages, Daniel Kahneman)
3* This international bestseller by Nobel prize-winner Daniel Kahneman includes a lifetime of experience and experimentation investigating how our minds work and how we make decisions.The book describes fast, intuitive thinking (system 1) and slow, rational thinking (system 2). System 1 operates automatically and quickly with little effort and no sense of control. System 2 is called upon when demanded by system 1 to provide effortful mental activities such as complex calculations. By using these models Kahneman demonstrates rational and irrational decisions and provides a framework for slower and smarter thinking. Agile activities include communication, collaboration and decision making, this book helps to make smarter decisions and better understand the behavior of others.
138 Introduction to Agile Methods (2014, 336 pages, Sondra Ashmore and Kristin Runyan)
3* Sondra and Kristin seek to provide a single classroom-style textbook for people to understand and adopt Agile and in this, they mostly succeed. Chapters end with questions to test knowledge and with an interview with Agile thought leaders or real-world implementation to broaden the area. Scrum, Kanban, XP, FDD and Lean are all covered in addition to the less useful historical methods DSDM and Crystal. The problem is that the differentiation between Agile methodologies is not made clear enough with the text switching between them unhelpfully at times. There is also some older language used such as grooming which should really have been updated. Overall this is a good overview of Agile covering values and practices with a broad range of content on implementation. Additionally, the section on Agile outside of IT is a positive step with the fictional company Cayman Design providing a consistent thread through the book..
139 Lean Change Management: Innovative Practices for Managing Organizational Change (2014, 180 pages, Jason Little)
3* Great book on implementing change and avoiding resistance through co-creation. Jason presents lean change management principles in a clean, fresh, practice focused and visual way. The relevant frameworks, canvases and models are highlighted and validated experiments as a path is detailed. This book is useful as a summary of available material but does not offer much originality, and this is fine.
140 The Surprising Power of Liberating Structures: Simple Rules to Unleash A Culture of Innovation (2014, 366 pages, Henri Lipmanowicz & Keith McCandless)
3*  Useful techniques for creating powerful, collaborative and inclusive workshops and meetings. This is a large book (A4) that is offered in Kindle (poor formatting), color (don’t bother) or black and white – be prepared for a long read or to jump in as required for ideas.The 33 liberating structures are tools used to format and facilitate events to maximize innovation, collaboration, leaning and leadership. I recommend that you introduce the practices presented in this book if you ever facilitate meetings.
141 Your Code as a Crime Scene: Use Forensic Techniques to Arrest Defects, Bottlenecks, and Bad Design in Your Programs (2015, 190 pages, Adam Tornhill)
3* The central concept is that you can use your source code version control history to analyse your codebase. Problem hotspots are identified using the metrics collected with further analysis possible via additional methods including temporal coupling and naming. The downloadable Code Maat tool enables this analysis, as long as you can spare the time to compile it.
The title conceit is that this analysis can be viewed in the context of a crime scene, with offender profiling being prominent and a case study of Jack the Ripper providing evidence. I am unconvinced of the value of these comparisons but the analysis tool is very interesting and the example usage of the Code City tool to show codebase development over time beautiful. Worth a read, especially if you already use static code analysis tools such as SonarQube.
142 Training from the Back of the Room! 65 Ways to Step Aside and Let Them Learn (2008, 320 pages, Sharon L Bowman)
3* It is time to reinvent how we train people, to avoid death by PowerPoint and long presentations to transfer knowledge. Sharon Bowman shows a better way, dynamic and innovative strategies to deliver outstanding results and engage those being taught.
If you are responsible for training people then you need to read this book. Understand the practices, utilise the described practices, and implement the change to improve the way people learn.
143 Who Moved My Cheese? An amazing way to deal with change in your work and in your life (1999, 96 pages, Spencer Johnson)
3* Although this is a small book that can be read in under an hour, the parable it contains is priceless. The four characters (Sniff, Scurry, Hem and Haw) are likely to live with you for a long time as you identify with them and start to see their behaviours in people around you.
The central message from this book (which is told in a much more entertaining and memorable way) is:
• Change Happens
• Anticipate Change
• Monitor Change
• Adapt to Change Quickly
• Change
• Enjoy Change!
• Be Ready To Change Quickly And Enjoy It Again and Again.
Everyone should read this book to better appreciate change.
144 Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action (2002, 256 pages, Simon Sinek)
3* This material is well presented by Simon in 17 minutes 50 seconds in his popular TED talk “How great leaders inspire action“.This book is good but does not add a lot of value over the talk. There are a few examples added to ground the material, predominantly Apple and Southwest (which are repeated too much). Overall, watch the TED talk and wait for Simon’s new book “The Infinite Game”.
145 Cultivating Communities of Practice: A Guide to Managing Knowledge (2011, 304 pages, Etienne Wenger, Richard McDermott & William Snyder)
3* If you want to create a community of practice, enable it to grow, foresee and prevent issues, and enable knowledge management, then this is the best book in its field. Contained is a wealth of good advice in how to form communities by focusing on their value and composition. There are practical principles and guides to each stage of a community along with how to measure value creation and solve problems.
If you are involved in a community of practice then this is an interesting read, if you are a community leader then it is essential.
146 Building Successful Communities of Practice (2016, 80 pages, Emily Webber)
3* Emily is an Agile and Lean consultant working with organisations on Agile transformations. She writes in this short book on how to build communities of practice within organisations to support and connect people, and facilitate learning. There is good advice, with examples, on how to create, build and sustain communities for specific areas.
The information presented is solid but is very much focused on traditional communities of communities of interest/practice with frequent and regular face-to-face contact. Modern online communities often have very little or no physical contact between members so the methods required to increase stickiness and gain traction differ. Online CoI and CoP require increased focus on vision, goals, collaboration, tools, activities, empowerment and engagement. Building this sense of purpose and identity takes particular skills and efforts, and it would have been useful for the book to cover this area.
147 Agile Foundations: Principles, Practices and Frameworks (2015, 194 pages, Peter Measey, Chris Berridge, Alex Grey, Richard Levy, Les Oliver, Barbara Roberts, Michael Short, Darren Wilmshurst and Lazero Wolf)

3* This is the recommended reading for the BCS Agile Foundation Certificate and includes the following sections:

  1. Introducing Agile – High-level overview
  2. A Generic Agile Framework – Process, roles, techniques and practices
  3. Applying Agile Principles – Why and how to apply the principles
  4. Agile Frameworks – Summary of XP, Scrum, DSDM, Agile PM, Kanban, Lean, Lean Start-Up and SAFe

This is a good general introduction to Agile written by experienced consultants. It is a shame that some other practices like Agile modelling and scaling frameworks such as LeSS or DAD are not covered, the book concentrates on those commonly seen by Radtac.

Unfortunately Agile Foundations paints with too broad a brush (at 164 pages) to be usable by itself but it is a reasonable overview of the current real-word state of Agile.

148 Getting Value out of Agile Retrospectives: A Toolbox of Retrospective Exercises (2014, 72 pages, Luis Gonçalves & Ben Linders)

3* Short book on running Agile retrospectives, worth a quick read but Derby and Larsen’s Agile Retrospectives book is much more comprehensive.

149 Driving Technical Change: Why People on Your Team Don’t Act on Good Ideas, and How to Convince Them They Should (2010, 200 pages, Terrence Ryan)

3* An interesting book looking at resistance patterns to change and how to overcome them.

150 EXIN Agile Scrum Foundation Workbook (2014, Nader K. Rad & Frank Turley, 103 pages)

3* Although this book is written to help get you through the EXIN Agile Scrum Foundation exam it also provides a good overview of Agile and more specifically Scrum.

It is fairly standard content but well presented and with some good simple diagrams. Well worth a read for background knowledge.

151 Becoming a Catalyst: Scrum Master Edition: Using Everyday Interactions to Accelerate Culture Change (2014, 118 pages, Len Lagestee)

3* The focus of this book is to detail how Scrum Masters can influence and accelerate cultural change within an organisation. The book is ideal for Agile coaches as well as Scrum Masters describing required traits and how they can be used to resolve issues.

152 Being Agile in Business: Discover faster, smarter, leaner ways to work (2015, 200 pages, Belinda Waldock)

3* Belinda is an Agile business coach and one of the organisers for Agile on the Beach which is held in Cornwall every September. The aim of her book is to cover Agile within a wider business context and in that she succeeds (mostly).
The first section is on Being Agile which covers the background, benefits, characteristics and logic. This is the justification for change and is reasonable but not new. Section two is on Agile Thinking and looks at the Agile manifesto, feedback cycles, the GROW model and other tools to enable an Agile mindset. Section three looks at Agile Approaches for estimation, prioritisation, metrics etc. Section four ends the book with Agile Culture, more specifically generating the right culture and demonstrating it at all levels.
I am wary of some un-Agile phrasings in the book such as the Scrum Master being the team leader but overall the book contains good value from a business context.

153 Agile Business: A Leaders Guide to Harnessing Complexity (2013, 260 pages, Bob Gower)

3* This book consists of sixty essays in five sections – Build the Right Thing, Build the Thing Right, People Not Resources, Agile Steering, and Transform Your Organization. The content is written by Agile consultants and experts often referencing out to other material. As a collection of essays the book is ok but there is no consolidating message or immediately usable content. If you would like to read about the breadth of Agile and have pointers to further books and articles then this book is ideal.

154 Look Beyond the Product: The Business of Agile Product Management (2014, 72 pages, Steve Johnson)

3* Although short this book gives a good overview of Agile product management. It covers the expertise required within a product management team and developing a product roadmap for internal and external customers. There is also coverage of thinking strategically and tactically when updating the roadmap. From a well known product management process coach it is well worth a read.

155 A Practical Guide to Distributed Scrum (2010, 240 pages, Elizabeth Woodward, Steffan Surdek and Matthew Ganis)

3* This IBM book focuses on large-scale distributed development using Scrum based on real-world examples.

As well as covering methods for running distributed teams the book details, in turn, how to hold each Scrum event (meeting). Although there are some useful points raised on collaboration the book is basic and mostly common sense.

156 Open Space Technology: A User’s Guide (2008, 240 pages, Harrison Owen)

3* Open Space Technology (OST) is an effective, fast and efficient strategy for organising meetings that allows self-organising groups to deal with highly complex problems.

Although this book is not purely Agile, OST is used extensively within the Agile community to organise meetings based around a common problem to be solved.

157 Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork, and the Myth of Total Efficiency (2002, 256 pages, Tom DeMarco)

3* An interesting read into why many modern management techniques do not work and actually harm companies. As a leading management consultant DeMarco shows many counterproductive practices in four sections – Slack, Lost But Making Good Time, Change And Growth, and Risk And Risk Management. A fun and light book clarifing some, personally I learnt more on deserved and undeserved trust. Worth reading if you are in management.

158 Organize for Complexity: How to get life back into work to build the high-performance organization (2014, 160 pages, Niels Pflaeging)

3* A thoughtful and highly illustrated book on traditional versus modern styles of leadership and organizational behavior.
Niels defines and compares design principles Alpha (Theory X) and Beta (Theory Y) at an individual, team and business level. The examination of complexity is engaging with comparisons given between the two specified design principles.
This book seeks to engage with a new audience, those outside of the business book arena, and in that it is a success. Due to the graphical style, the content is light and breezy, but there are recommended references to allow you to explore the area further.

159 Our Iceberg is Melting: Changing and Succeeding under any Conditions (2006, 160 pages, John Kotter & Holger Rathgeber)

3* This short fable illustrates Kotter’s eight-step process of successful change:

Set the stage
1. Create a sense of urgency
2. Pull Together the guiding team
Decide what to do
3. Develop the change vision and strategy
Make it happen
4. Communicate for understanding and buy-in
5. Empower others to act
6. Produce short-term wins
7. Don’t let up
Make it stick
8. Create a new culture

The fable follows a colony of penguins that discover that their iceberg is threatened and describes how they organise to find a solution and change behaviours for a new way of living. The story details how complex organisational behaviour can be changed using a simple set of steps, note that these have been updated since and now appear as follows:
Kotter’s Eight Steps to Accelerate Change:
1. Create a Sense of Urgency
2. Build a Guiding Coalition
3. Form a Strategic Vision and Initiatives
4. Enlist a Volunteer Army
5. Enable Action by Removing Barriers
6. Generate Short-Term Wins
7. Sustain Acceleration
8. Institute Change

If you want to read about penguins with briefcases collaborating on the top of a melting iceberg then read this book, if not then read the more serious Leading Change by John Kotter.

160 The Agility Shift: Creating Agile and Effective Leaders, Teams and Organisations (2015, 256 pages, Pamela Meyer)

3* This is a very well written book from organisational and innovation expert Pamela Meyer which is full of personal and professional experience, including examples, of agility within a VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) environment.

As a former theatre director, Pamela approaches business agility with the metaphor of an improvisation team and uses this to explain and highlight the ideas of engaging, collaborating and building on others contributions. The area of improv’ing Agile is becoming more popular with Paul Goddard’s book ‘Improving Agile Teams’ and the many online resources.

There are a few minor issues with the book at a technical level such as referencing Jeff Sutherland as an Extreme Programming mentor (page 79) but overall this is a great guide to learning more about Agile Leadership and how to build Agile teams and organisations.

161 The Scrumban [R]Evolution: Getting the Most Out of Agile, Scrum, and Lean Kanban (2015, 384 pages, Ajay Reddy)

3* Scrumban combines the framework of Scrum with the flow of Kanban in order to optimize your process. This is the definitive guide to Scrumban, what it means for your process, how to adopt in for your team and the practices required to maximize your organizational performance. There are also good case studies, links to SAFe, and product development pointers in this book. I would have like to see an early crystal clear short definition of Scrumban and some strong editing to cut the size down, overall though a good book.

162 It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work (2018, 240 pages, Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson)
3* The co-founders of successful software startup Basecamp present a strong strategy for creating a modern and effective organization that values its employees. The advice is split into 66 “chapters”, each 2-3 pages long, each reading for the MTV generation. Well presented and modern good advice.
163 This is Agile: Beyond the Basics. Beyond the Hype. Beyond Scrum (2014, 244 pages, Sander Hoogendoorn)

3* I was not expecting much from this book given the title and never having heard of the author before but I was pleasently surprised.

This is very readable book that covers mainly foundation level Agile with the basics plus requirements, estimating, planning and distributed Agile.

Practical content from someone actually doing Agile, Sander is an Agile coach in the Netherlands, worth reading if you have time.

164 The Professional Product Owner: Leveraging Scrum as a Competitive Advantage (2018, 376 pages, Don McGreal & Ralph Jocham)

3* This is the only book so far in’s The Professional Scrum Series and is hopefully not representative.

This is a basic book on Scrum’s Product Owner role which duplicates a lot of the Scrum Guide content before expanding upon it. A vision, value and validation model is presented to tie together the material. Other models and sense making tools are included but there is no content that is original or particularly enlightening.

I recommend the excellent Product Mastery by Geoff Watts and the masterful Strategize by Roman Pitchler instead of this book.

165 Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surving with Grace: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace (1994, 228 pages, Gordon MacKenzie)
3* Carefully crafted and philosophical treatise for breaking down bureaucracy and thriving in a corporate environment. Original, thought-provoking and fun. It appears to be a light-weight and picture heavy quick read but is actually challenging and perceptive.


Introduction to Disciplined Agile Delivery 1st Edition: A Small Agile Team’s Journey from Scrum to Continuous Delivery (2015, 104 pages, Scott Ambler & Mark Lines)
3* Replaced by second edition (below in this box)
I reviewed “Disciplined Agile Delivery: A Practioner’s guide to Agile Software Delivery in the Enterprise” by the same authors previously and gave it four stars. I still like DAD although it is a bit of a Swiss army knife framework in which you can slot any tool. This book is an entertaining fictional account of a team running DAD and moving from Scrum to Kanban over time (sorry to spoil the plot). It is a good introduction to DAD but is a little smug overall and unfairly condescending to Scrum that cannot answer back. It is not long and introduces a few good principles and techniques so a low three stars.
Note: The 2015 change to Disciplined Agile solves some of the issues.Introduction to Disciplined Agile Delivery 2nd Edition: A Small Agile Team’s Journey from Scrum to Disciplined DevOps (2018, 111 pages, Scott Ambler & Mark Lines)
3* A light update to this booklet to include DevOps (jumping on the bandwagon or adding wider value, depending on your viewpoint), to tie in better with Discilined Agile IT (DAIT) and Disciplined Agile Enterprise (DAE), and other minor updates.
167 Disciplined Agile Delivery: A Practioner’s guide to Agile Software Delivery in the Enterprise (2012, 544 pages, Scott Ambler and Mark Lines)
3* Replaced by Choose Your WoW! A Disciplined Agile Delivery Handbook for Optimizing Your Way of Working (higher in table).
This is a very dense book at 544 pages with a small font and even smaller diagrams but is full of great information.
IBM’s DAD process framework combines several agile strategies including Scrum, Extreme Programming, Agile Modelling, Kanban and the Unified Process. DAD is aimed at large and complex projects and covers the inception, construction and transition phases plus governance. DAD covers scaling up to but not including the portfolio or program level. There is a fairly heavy IBM toolset slant that is understandable (but still very annoying) due to the origin of DAD. DAD is not prescriptive and recognises adaptions need to be made for real projects.
Along with SAFe and LeSS the Disciplined Agile Delivery process framework is a large body of knowledge with some great content but to me is not really fully realised or complete (certaintly at this point in it’s development). There is certainly value in DAD but more work is needed before we have a consolidated and consistent scaled framework. DAD also suffers from a poor website ( and a heavy IBM focus.
168 Pomodoro Technique Illustrated: The Easy Way to do More in Less Time (2010, 144 pages, Staffan Noteberg)

3* The Pomodoro technique is a time management method splitting work into intervals, typically 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. Each Pomodoro (interval) is measured on a timer, traditionally the tomato-shaped kitchen timer.
This is an easy to read book providing a clear introduction to the Pomodoro technique to help you focus on work and avoid procrastination. Every page includes an illustrative diagram to help understanding. If you want to learn more than Francesco Cirillo finally publishes his 2006 book The Pomodoro Technique, originally a free download, in September 2017.

169 Improving Agile Retrospectives: Helping Teams Become More Efficient (2018, 270 pages, Marc Loeffler)

3* This book had great potential to become a must-have tool for Scrum Masters and agile coaches but unfortunately misses the mark. The translation and editing is unusually poor for the Mike Cohn Addison Wesley Signature series of books. As an example, an overly simplistic speedboat retrospective is explained in painful detail and then a cloud is drawn and participants asked “What are the gusts of wind that help our sailboat to move forward?” – pick a boat and stick with it! This lack of understanding is repeated several times in the book making some exercises challenging at best. There is also too much out-referencing instead of clear guidance.

There is useful content here but I look forward to a new edition where time is spent by an experianced editor and knowledgable agile reviewers. Stick to Agile Retrospectives and Retromat instead until then.

170 No Estimates: How to Measure Project Progress Without Estimating (2016, 180 pages, Vasco Duarte)
3* An easy to read introduction to the #NoEstimates movement. There are seven chapters covering the challenge with estimating, how to manage projects better, adopting NoEstimates and how to gain customer trust with rolling wave forecasting. If you are interested in learning more on developing with less estimation overhead then read this book.
171 Show and Tell: How Everybody Can Make Extraordinary Presentations (2014, 272 pages, Dan Roam)

3* Dan Roam, author of the bestselling book the back of the napkin, provides guidance on how to understand your audience, build a storyline, create effective visuals and provide powerful presentations. The overall guidance followings three rules:
Rule 1 – Tell the Truth
Rule 2 – Tell it with a Story
Rule 3 – Tell it with Pictures
Dan details his PUMA model (horizontal-vertical storytelling) which stands for Presentations Underlying Message Architecture. The puma’s head is the main idea, the spine represents the main storyline with the legs the supporting ideas and the tail being one last hook.
PUMA then has options (with examples given) on building presentations from resting (report), climbing (explanation), pouncing (pitch) and leaping (drama). This is a very visual book and is helpful when thinking how to present your data and achieve the result you are looking for.

172 I Want You to Cheat!: The Unreasonable Guide to Service and Quality in Organisations (1992, 160 pages, John Seddon)
3* Every organization is a service organization and this interesting and short book covers how to empower employees to put the customer first. There are a lot of agile principles in here pushing back against hierarchy, micro management, management by metics, mandated standards against client results, outputs over outcome etc. It is twenty-seven years old but still relevant (unfortunately).
173 Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness (2002, 384 pages, Robert K. Greenleaf)
2* This is the 25th anniversary edition of the foundational book on servant leadership. The collection of essays covers servant leadership in business, education, foundations, churches, plus servant-leaders role and responsibility in wider society. If you are looking to learn more regarding the foundation and broad scope of servant leadership then set aside a large block of quiet time and read through this large book. For the rest of us who wish to focus on agile transformation, read a summary on servant leadership and move on.
174 The Serving Leader: Five Powerful Actions to Transform Your Team, Business, and Community (2016, 192 pages, Ken Jennings & John Stahl Wert)
2* Insightful book presenting a different view of how a successful leadership style can be learnt. The upended pyramid is related to the servant leader movement but goes further with compassion, genuine caring and a higher purpose. The book is fictional but based on real people and situations. I felt uncomfortable with the background cancer story overlaid with the servant leader framework reveal. I felt that the story is to open the reader emotionally to the strong leadership message but I am not convinced it is necessary and the use of it as a lever is questionable. Great advice though.
175 The Big 100: The 100 Business Tools You Need to Succeed (2015, 240 pages, Jeremy Kourdi)
2* This small book summarises one hundred top business tools such as Belbin’s team roles or the Deming cycle. It is great to be able to read these two-page summaries to understand the broad aims of many diverse practices and then select the ones you need to further investigate.
The defined business tools are split into the following categories:
Leadership and Change
Business Strategy, Planning and Organisational Effectiveness
Developing Innovation and Creativity
Sales, Marketing, Branding and Customer Service
Managing Information, Technology and Operations
Finance, Accounting and Economics
Personal Effectiveness and Career Success
Developing People, Organisations and Culture
It is good to be able to see so many popular business tools summarised in one place, it is not usable in itself but provides a good reference to quickly look up practices that can be further investigated in-depth elsewhere.
176 The Little Black Book of Change: The 7 Fundamental Shifts for Change Management That Delivers (2012, 160 pages, Paul Adams & Mike Straw)

2* A concise book on how to deliver effective and transformative change that lasts. This book is accessible and grounded in real case studies that are included to reinforce the recommendations. There are seven shifts detailed:

  • Shift1: Letting go of the past
  • Shift 2: Developing breakthrough ambition
  • Shift 3: Creating a bold new vision of the future
  • Shift 4: Engaging the players in the bold new future
  • Shift 5: Cutting through the DNA
  • Shift 6: Keeping the organization future-focused
  • Shift 7: Gaining energy from setbacks

Worth a read to better understand how to transform organizations.

177 Extreme Programming Applied (2001, 376 pages, Ken Auer & Roy Miller)
2* This is my favorite out of the ten books in the XP Series. It has practical advice from the explorers of the XP movement during its earliest days. It is still an enjoyable read, but eighteen years on is not the best text for any of the subjects covered. XP itself is also rare as a full methodology and instead has devolved to become a set of individual practices to be applied in other frameworks.
178 Testing Extreme Programming (2002, 336 pages, Lisa Crispin & Tip House)
2* This book contains a detailed explanation of how to ensure that a separate test role remains important within XP. The view expands upon the traditional XP cross-functional viewpoint to include a specialist who works closely with the customer and developers to improve the product. Automated acceptance testing is covered in some depth as well as how the tester role works within the team. It is good but dated, read Lisa’s excellent Agile Testing and More Agile Testing instead.
179 Extreme Programming Installed (2001, 188 pages, Ron Jeffries, Ann Anderson & Chet Hendrickson)
2* A clear explanation of the core principles of extreme programming along with a description of the steps in the XP process. An interesting read but along with the rest of the series is mainly of history note only.
180 Planning Extreme Programming (2000, 160 pages, Kent Beck & Martin Fowler)
2* The follow up to Kent Beck’s Extreme Programming Explained covers planning as a constant process of reevaluation and course-correction throughout the lifecycle of the project. It was interesting to read about spatial reasoning in the planning game which Menlo uses a variant on today. Apart from that the book is unsurprisingly dated and is good for software development history fans only.
181 Extreme Programming in Practice (2001, 224 pages, James Newkirk & Robert C. Martin)
2* This book provides a case study of a web-based software project using XP. Everything in the book is real, based on videotapes of all meetings and development events. Lots of source code and tests are included for realism in addition to refactoring examples and lots of coverage of interactions and how the team developed. The real problem is that the project was tiny, people rotated through the team, the project scope was cut massively when it was underway and became a part-time activity. I believe that the authors should have restarted the exercise with a larger full-time project to give the book better content. Of historic note but not essential unless you are researching XP history.
182 Extreme Programming Explored (2001, 188 pages, William C. Wake)
2* An early XP book covering programming, team practices and processes. There is coverage of the day to day mechanics of working on an early XP team. Again, one for the history buffs with little practical modern application.
183 Extreme Programming for Web Projects (2002, 192 pages, Doug Wallace, Isobel Raggett & Joel Aufgang)
2* A good overview of the practical implementation of extreme programming when developing web sites. The book covers the needs of a graphical design process, content sourcing and generation, browser compatibility testing, specialists and distributed teams. It was radical in 2002 but web development has moved a long way in seventeen years. Unfortunately, although an interesting read, this is another one for the history books.
184 Questioning Extreme Programming (2002, 224 pages, Pete McBreen)
2* This is an odd book. The preposition is that it enables you through reasoned argument to make informed decisions about adopting XP. The book creates a straw man to cover the arguments for and against XP but does not go into enough depth to provide real answers. It is an interesting read, especially the comparison with other (nearly all legacy now) processes, but is another book for the history books. Back in 2002, it enabled discussion of XP adoption but there is no useful content for modern software development.
185 Extreme Programming Examined (2001, 592 pages, Giancarlo Succi & Michele Marchesi)
2* A collection of 33 papers from the first annual conference on Extreme Programming and Flexible Processes in Software Engineering held in Italy during June 2000. Unfortunately, it is about as interesting as it sounds in the previous sentence. The papers are painfully dated, rarely about XP specifically, and not insightful or any longer innovative. There are occasional nuggets of quality but at 592 pages, it is a long read to locate them.
186 Extreme Programming Perspectives (2002, 640 pages, by Michele Marchesi & Giancarlo Succi & Don Wells & Laurie Williams)
2* This is the book you would produce when you realize extreme programming was finished as a methodology and you are contracted to publish a final book in the XP Series decalogy. Pull together 47 papers from XP conferences and XP-infected colleagues, sort them into 6 categories (XAR, XD, XTT, XR, XT and XEX – don’t ask, it’s not really important), replace “paper” with “chapter” and you are basically done. Finish with a high price point to reflect the 640 pages of content and move onto the next methodology. Mildly interesting as a historical note but depressing how many projects referenced were cancelled, merged in with other work, or finished successfully and the team made redundant due to management perception.
187 Scrum Insights for Practitioners: The Scrum Guide Companion (2016, 106 pages, Hiren Doshi)
2* The 2017 Scrum Guide by Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber is a great reference source and is only 19 pages. This book is also short, luckily.
188 Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identify (2000, 336 pages, Etienne Wenger)
2* This book presents an academic study into the theory of social learning. It provides a comprehensive analysis of the subject with many studies and stories to bring life to the subject. Although very good for understanding the theory behind communities of practice I would recommend Etienne’s later book ‘Cultivating Communities of Practice’ or Emily Webber’s ‘Building Successful Communities of Practice’ if you need to actually lead a community.
190 Impact Mapping: Making a Big Impact with Software Products and Projects (2012, 86 pages, Gojko Adzix)

2* I usually enjoy Gojko’s books but not so much this time. Although Impact Mapping is a very pretty book, it is too short at 86 pages to adequately describe this mind mapping alternative.

Impact mapping fills a space between the business model canvas and the build-measure-learn cycle from Lean Startup. It would have been nice to see a bigger and more realistic example to better understand the technique.

Based purely upon the book I have rated it as two stars. Possibly once I have used the technique, looked more at the web site and re-read the book it will go up by one star.

191 Agile Revolution, Beyond Software limits (2014, 252 pages, Michael Nir)

2* Michael is a prolific author and this book is ok but never really delivers on its promise. There are sections on Agile and its background, software simplicity, systems and hardware in Agile, Agile workshops, Agile and Lean and system Kanban.

It really needs to be instructive and have real examples of systems and hardware using Agile.

192 Ship It! A Practical Guide to Successful Software Projects (2005, 200 pages, Jarad Richardson & William Gwaltney).

2* This is a practical book looking at software development focusing upon:

  1. Tools and Infrastructure
  2. Pragmatic Project Techniques
  3. Tracer Bullet Development

The final section of the book looks at common problems and how to resolve them.

This is an odd book, despite being published in 2005 it goes out of its way to describe many Agile practices but avoid mentioning Agile until Appendix F. We have automatic builds and unit testing, continuous integration, pair programming, backlogs, co-ordinated teams holding daily meetings, refactoring, feature development with defined interfaces etc.

This is a introductory book to modern development practices from Richarson and Gwaltney who would do much better to believe in their convictions and describe a full version of Agile. This is a good practical book with actionable practices but there are much better books out there that cover the full set of Agile practices in a more open way.

183 The Agile PMO: A Practical Guide (158 pages, 2014, Michael Nir)

2* An explanation of how to create an Agile PMO in response to an enterprise need and how to avoid typical mistakes and failures. The mistakes of a Tactical PMO, Methodology PMO and Project Manager Home PMO are all detailed as is a succesful implementation. It is not very Agile but it does describe, from a high and simple level, how to set up a PMO.

194 Practical Scrum: Master the Art of Scrum and Improve Your Teams Agile Practice (2016, 42 pages, Shiel Yule)
2* Dated introduction to Scrum which diverges from the official Scrum Guide with terminology and practice, and has a lot of inaccuracies. It is a short and simple read but I recommend you start and end elsewhere when learning about Scrum. As a consolation, the cover art is good.
195 Rocks Into Gold: An Agile Parable (2009, 64 pages, Clarke Ching)

2* This is the story of Bob Billington, a programmer about to lose his job because of the recession, and how he makes a product development commercially viable. Clarke, author of Rolling Rocks Downhill, uses the short story format to describe how Agile development can increase return on investment in a much shorter time frame. Good for a short read.

196 Scrum: How to Leverage User Stories for Better Requirements Definition (2015, 66 pages, Jefferson Hanley)

2* This book includes good coverage of User Stories and how to use them. As well as covering the basics and how to write user stories there are also good examples. This is not as good as User Stories Applied but there are not a lot of books on this subject so for its size it is well worth a read.

197 The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (Manga Edition): An Illustrated Leadership Fable (2008, Patrick M. Lencioni & Kensuke Okabayashi, 180 pages)

2* Let me start by saying I am a fan of manga (meaning Japanese comics, coming from two kanji – man meaning whimsical or impromptu and ga meaning pictures). You can start Kyoden and Minwa and work through Kitazawa and onto popular modern manga with Miyazaki and Otoma but one place not to go is probably this book.
Lencioni’s work is well worth reading in its original form, converting it to a relatively short manga novel is honestly not a great idea. The characters are not fleshed out and the strong ideas in five dysfunctions of a team, although clearly stated here, are not assisted by the medium of manga.
I recommend that you read Lencioni’s original book instead of this manga edition.

198 Adaptive Software Development (2000, James A. Highsmith, 358 pages)

2* Adaptive software development was created a year prior to the author Jim Highsmith joining 16 other lightweight methodology thought leaders in creating the Agile Manifesto. When selecting a name for the new philosophy the choice was made between adaptive and agile, thankfully Agile won.

This book has not aged well in the last fifteen years and is a long in-deep study that is difficult to get through. Although interesting and innovative at the time I don’t believe this book gives you anything that has not been better covered since.

199 Understanding The Agile Manifesto: A Brief & Bold Guide to Agile (2014, 45 pages, Larry Apke)

2* Larry, an Agile coach, provides a brief overview and discussion on all elements of the Agile Manifesto. The discussion is around what it means to be Agile and not just to do Agile. If you are free for an hour in between engagements then it is ok for a quick read but I suspect you can probably find something more worthwhile and practical to do.

200 Agile Fu: Understanding modern innovative development in approximately an hour (2015, 102 pages, Paul Ranson)

2* It is going to take around an hour to read this introduction to Agile, innovation and Lean. This book is written as if you were discussing Agile with someone you met in a pub. It is informal, slightly entertaining and very lightweight. It is very pro-Agile but does not go into much detail. It also could be better edited.

201 HEMP: An Agile Approach to Analysis and Design (2013, 108 pages, David E. Jones)

2* It’s a terrible acronym but the Holistic Enterprise Mechanization Process (HEMP) is actually quite good. HEMP covers gathering requirements, building on existing systems, user interface design, technical design, implementation plus tools and systems. The philosophy presented is reasonable and some of the ideas realistic. It is nice to see a book looking at the systems and management level of Agile projects but it is too brief and does not contain enough actionable content.

202 YOGURT for Agile & Lean Workplace Culture: Discovered thru Practice, Inspired by Mother Nature (2015, 130 pages, Yilmaz Guleryuz)

2* As someone once said “it’s a tale of two halves” – I was pleasantly surprised by the useful soft-skilled coaching focus of the first half of the book then it got weird… Yilmaz starts release planning in the second half with “find out the date of new moon days”, he progresses with his COMPASS model to base project plans on these new moon dates. Next time I read a book I am going to check the age of the author to see if they were hippies J Yilmaz continues by assigning each element of his framework to an element from nature (possibly he spent too long listening to Earth, Wind and Fire in the sixties?). It did not improve towards the end when I needed my Kindle’s built-in dictionary for flaneur and via negative.

203 Easy Agile: Best Practices for Software Developers, Project Managers and Executives (2014, 52 pages, Lou Pedron)

2* Some books start off on the wrong foot, “Today, most, if not all projects are cloud based solutions implemented using the Agile approach” – no they are not.

Fairly generic Scrum book, not awful but certainly no originality.

204 The Daily Standup: Effectively Improving Team Communication (2015, 25 pages, Christopher Franklin)
2* There are four chapters on how to run a daily standup coordination meeting. The 25 page book describes a daily standup, covers the three questions, the implementation and common problems. It is not bad but it is extremely lightweight, perhaps appropriate for a fifteen minute meeting?
205 The Power of Scrum, In the Real World, For the Agile Scrum Master, Product Owner, Stakeholder and Development Team (2014, 77 pages, Paul Vii)

2* First there is the usual overview of Scrum, some history and its relationship with Agile. Next comes an explanation of roles, events and artifacts followed by some real experience on Scrum projects and a deep dive into the project launch, events and artifacts. There is nothing new here but it is Paul’s Magnum Opus.

206 Kanban: The Kanban guide, For the Business, Agile Project Manager, Scrum Master, Product Owner and Development Team (2014, 31 pages, Paul Vii)

2* This book contains an introduction to the origins of Kanban, a description of workflow, Kanban board design and a walk through of using Kanban. It is ok but either (or both) of the grown-up books (Kanban, Kanban in Action) are preferable.

207 Scrum (Mega Pack), For the Agile Scrum Master, Product Owner, Stakeholder and Development Team (2013, 196 pages, Paul Vii)

2* It is only ninety-nine pence (Kindle) and contains Paul Vii’s eight small Agile books. This bundle can be purchased all together and just about makes up a book (although very disjointed, badly edited, poorly formatted, with too much duplication and including frequent annoying external links that are hard to avoid whilst changing page on a Kindle).

208 Agile Project Management: Mastery – An Advanced Guide To Agile Project Management (2015, 66 pages, Clydebank Business)

2* This book looks at project management and moving from traditional to Agile. There are lots of case studies given and Agile is put into context with a background of lean. The practical aspects of Agile PM are also covered including some detail of metrics.

209 Agile Project Management: Quickstart Guide – A Simplified Beginners Guide to Agile Project Management (2014, 92 pages, ClydeBank Business)

2* It is not as bad as you would expect. There is an explanation of PM, a history of Agile PM, a discussion on methodologies, tools, implications, criticism of Agile PM and three case studies.

210 Scrum Quickstart Guide – A Simplified Beginners Guide to Mastering Scrum (2014, 86 pages, ClydeBank Business)

2* We have an Agile methodology overview, an outline of Scrum and it’s “tactics”, staff, operational implications plus three case studies. Underwhelming.

211 Scrum: Your Quick Start Guide To Adopting Scrum For Your Organization (2015, 75 pages, Jefferson Hanley)

2* Another overview of Scum summarising others work and not any originality. It is reasonable on the range of information discussed if not always accurate.

212 Agile Project Management, A QuickStart Beginner’s Guide To Mastering Agile Project Management! (2015, 31 pages, Henry O’Brien)

2* This is a short attempt in covering Agile project management. It has some odd PM centered ideas of Agile and is not actually usable in itself.

213 Scrum Essentials (2014, 54 pages, Troy Dimes)

2* This is a general introduction to Scrum again but does stay quite true to the Scrum Guide plus the usual additions. If it was a full size book then I would rate it as three stars but due to its length of 42 spaced out actual pages I can only rate it to two stars.

214 Xanpan: Team Centric Agile Software Development (2012-2014, 206 pages, Allan Kelly)

2* Xanpan is not surprisingly a mix of Extreme Programming and Kanban and is looking at collecting best practices and adapting instead of following a rigidly defined Agile process.

It is a short book (as per most lean publishing) and contains some interesting content but is marred by continual out-referencing and a lack of originality.


215 Scrumban: Essays on Kanban Systems for Lean Software Development (2009, 180 pages, Corey Ladas)

2* This small book focuses more on Kanban than Scrumban but is ok for a quick read if you can put up with the poor editing. The first half of is unoriginal but fine, however the rest contains some fairly controversial ideas that not everyone is going to agree with.

216 Agile & Iterative Development: A Manager’s Guide (2004, 368 pages, Craig Larman)

2* Engineering has moved on in the ten years since publication of this book so although the information is interesting it is becoming dated. In this book Larman compares the key practices of Scrum, XP, RUP and EVO using research and case studies. As co-inventor of Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS) Larman shows his deep knowledge of iterative methods but did not foresee the pre-eminence of Scrum for modern development.

217 Scrum Master Foundation: Agile Training (2014, 63 pages, Steen Lerche-Jenson)

2* This is a reasonable overview of Agile and Scrum but is too broad and lacks any real depth to be independently implementable. The diagrams are reasonable, especially if you use a computer to read the book and not a kindle. If the intention was to provide an overview prior to the reader learning more from elsewhere then the sixty-three pages are fine, otherwise start elsewhere.

218 Best Kept Secrets of Peer Code Review (2006, 164 pages, Jason Cohen).

2* This is a fairly short collection of essays around the topic of code reviews. There is unsurprisingly a bias towards Smart Bear’s Code Callaborator review tool but there is still good information presented within its 10 chapters.

I believe that all production code should be code reviewed, this does not need to be a heavy-weight process and this book describes how it can be accomplished. The book covers the justification behind reviewing code, the different types of reviews, social and phycological considerations plus several case studies.

You can download this book for free or even get a free paper copy sent to you free. This book shows good engineering practice, not necessarily Agile but it will improve quality and collaboration. Overall a good introduction to reviewing code, there is better information out there but probably not for free.

219 Agile Software Development with Scrum (2001, 158 pages, Ken Schwaber & Mike Beedle)

2* This is the first book detailing the Scrum framework and was published in the same year as the Agile Manifesto by two of its signatories. The diagrams are poor and very badly printed but the background reasoning behind Scrum is interesting. Although this is a great historic document it is a short and outdated overview of Scrum focused on selling the new framework to software developers.

220 Agile Software Construction (2006, 266 pages, John Hunt)

2* The aim of this book is to cover Agile methods and approaches in the context of real software projects. As well as covering planning, organising and developing systems using Agile practices it seeks to cover problems commonly encountered. Unfortunately the book fails to deliver on any of its promises.

The majority of the book covers Agile Modeling and XP (over 153 of the 246 pages). There are shorter sections on feature-driven development, Agile RUP and PRINCE2 (!), Agile tools and obstacles to Agile software development.

This book has a strong focus on XP and Agile Modeling to the exclusion of any useful content on other methods. There is insufficient detail within this book to make it useful and also it does not serve as an overview as it misses out on so much. To me there are much better overview books (see elsewhere in the book list) and also better books on low-level detail.

221 Agile Exposed: An overview of Agile, where it came from and the principles that make it work (2012, 160 pages, Barry Evans)

2* This book comprises of four parts:

  1. Agile Examined
  2. Agile Analysed
  3. Software Development Project Models
  4. Observations and Advice

Part one is entertaining where the history of software development and Barry’s personal experience is reviewed. There is some good advice on business and developers collaborating and some discussion on issues and criticism.

Part two is a guide to user stories, Scrum, DSDM, PRINCE2, Lean, Kanban and Extreme Programming. There is also a short section on the Agile Alliance and Agile Manifesto.

Part three looks at the evolution of software project development including waterfall, spiral, iterative and incremental, and RAD. This is a high-level view of the options including some badly drawn graphics.

Part four has an Agile shopping list on practices that Barry considers essential for Agile development. This is the usual wish list without any guidance on actually achieving it.

Agile Exposed was written in 2011 and is Barry’s third book (see Barry is a big fan of extreme programming and raves about it in the book (five stars from Barry), unfortunately, he is not a fan of Scrum and sees it as a money-making progress tracker (one star from Barry). Luckily from this year’s State of Agile, the rest of the world does not agree with him.

I did enjoy reading this relatively short book (134 pages) but did not learn anything new – the heavy bias to XP also grated.

222 A Beginner’s Guide to Mastering Scrum: A Step by Step Guide that will Put you on The Path to Mastering Scrum (2015, 44 pages, Casandra Minichiello)

2* Short overview with a few pointers but no real value.

Following the Scrum overview, Casandra follows a step-by-step approach to introducing Scrum.

223 scrum primer The Scrum Primer: A Lightweight Guide to the Theory and Practice of Scrum – version 2.0 (2012, Pete Deemer, Gabrielle Benefield, Craig Larman, Bas Vodde)

2* Yet another short guide to Scrum with different pictures but the same goal. I think ‘The Scrum Guide’ is better as the definitive overview.

Available only as a download free on the InfoQ website (

224 little book of scrum The Little Book of Scrum (2011, 142 pages, Gabrielle Benefield)

2* A physically small book at 15cmx10cm which covers the basics of Scrum. The content is fine, the style good and it covers the essentials. My only issue is I don’t see much value over the scrum guide.

225 The Elements of Scrum (2011, 184 pages, Chris Sims & Hilary Louise Johnson)

2* Not a bad overview, certainly a lot better than their other volume but leaves you wanting more detail overall.

226 Agile Transition Agile Transition: What you Need to Know Before Starting (2012, 38 Pages, Andrea Tomasini & Martin Kearns)

2* This is a well written but basic overview of Agile from a transformation viewpoint. It covers the Agile Manifesto, empirical versus defined process control, pull versus push systems, lean thinking, balancing freedom with guidance, management changes and how to plan the transition. The content rates three stars but the short length of this booklet demotes it to two stars.

227 AgilePM Agile Project Management and Scrum v2: A customisation of the AgilePM framework tailored specifically to meet the needs of Scrum projects (2015, 61 pages, Andrew Craddock)

2* AgilePM was created in 2010 from the project management aspects of the DSDM Agile framework. The AgilePM subset of DSDM was then extended with in-depth top tips from experienced professionals.

The theory sounds good and project managers are underserved by Agile training (for several reasons) but there are two issues:

  1. DSDM is very unpopular as a scaling methodology with less than 1% of the market. Created in 1994 by industry stalwarts it has had some odd name changes and slow updates. Additionally it is very focused on meeting end dates and budgets and not so much on customer outcomes.
  2. This booklet is in a very small format (9cm x 14cm) and takes around half an hour to read. There is also insufficient information to apply the practices without the main DSDM framework and further help.

I apologise to all those still pushing DSDM but for me it is an old unused framework that has been replaced by better options. One to consign to history with waterfall, spiral, evolutionary and RUP.

228 51eah560qsl AGILE: A Leader’s Guide to Delivering Twice the Work in Half the Time (2015, 37 pages, Leonar Urena)

2* Leonar covers transition versus transformation, leadership support, business coordination, learning and coaching. It is ok but lacks sufficent depth to be able to be usable by itself.

229 Wicked Problems, Righteous Solutions: A Catalogue of Modern Software Engineering Paradigms (1990, 272 pages, Peter DeGrace & Leslie Hulet Stahl)

2* An interesting look at software methods written twenty-five years ago with the first published reference to Scrum from “The New New Product Development Game” paper (1986, Hirotaka Takeuchi & Ikujiro Nonaka). No real relevance or assistance to today’s Agile development world but a good piece of history.

230 Organizational Patterns of Agile Software Development (2005, 401 pages, James Coplien and Neil Harrison).

2* This is a very good book covering the human and organizational dimensions of developing software. There are over one hundred patterns detailed that are split over four interrelated pattern languages:

  • Project Management
  • Piecemeal Growth of the Organisation
  • Organizational Style
  • People and Code

Although I like the book it is not Agile, this is stated in the introduction where the author writes “we chose ‘Agile’ for the title out of marketing concerns”. The patterns are useful and comprehensive, I struggle to agree to several of them but cerrtainly recognise most of the others. There is also good linkage between patterns and advice on what to try in different situations.

This is a great book for building sustainable and effective development organisations and helps in understanding how organisations and more specifially people can work best to develop software. Unfortunately it is not Agile and several of the patterns are decidedly anti-Agile so if you are looking to improve your knowledge in this area then this is not the book you are looking for.

231 The Deadline: A Novel about Project Management (1997, 310 pages, Tom DeMarco).

2* DeMarco’s books are always an entertaining read and this one is no exception. Written as a novel we follow a fictional project manager who is kidnapped and taken to manage a series of projects at a company within a former-communist country. With highly skilled and very cheap labour the PM is able to conduct a series of experiments to find what works best.

There are some good ideas and reflections on impossible waterfall projects with unachievable deadlines.This book shows how the market as moved on since it was written eighten years ago. A lot of the advice given in this book is no longer valid in a self-organised and more rapid agile development environment.

232 Polar Bear Pirates and their Quest to Engage the Sleepwalkers: Motivate Everyday People to Deliver Extraordinary Results (2011, 182 pages, Adrian Webster)
2* I am not sure I am the intended market for this patronizing over-simplification of personalities but I disliked this book a lot. See if the blurb sounds more fun for you –
“Polar Bear Pirates are highly focused…they take on the Sleepwalkers, the workplace zombies… can be found on Planet Complacency…more powerful than the inhospitable Rock Bottom.”
The book is littered with cartoons and labels (Neg Ferrets, Bloaters, Sinkers, Head Treads, etc.) which I found annoying and not useful.
There are nuggets in there if you can find them and to be honest, if you can bear this language then, according to the book, you can “conquer complacency and transform your team into a happy, winning crew”. Sigh.
233 Agile Project Management: An Inclusive Walkthrough of Agile Project Management (2015, 50 pages, C.J. Holt)

2* This is a high-level view of Agile and its implementations from a point of project management. The content is ok but is very generic and difficult to see how you would use this to change how you work within the organization.

234 Waterfall to Agile: A Practical Guide to Agile Transition (2012, 126 pages, Ade Shokoya)

2* A guide to transitioning to Agile and the likely problems you will meet. An ok book but short and repeats information from other sources.

235 Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation (1991, 140 pages, Jean Lave & Etienne Wenger)

1* This book deserves a place in history as the source of the modern communities of practice concept, both as a theory of learning and later as part of knowledge management. Although pivotal and a key read for the area, it is a hard read that references out to many other research studies. If you are writing a university thesis then read this book, if you need something that you can practically use then read Etienne’s later book ‘Cultivating Communities of Practice’.

236 Scrum: A Breathtakingly Brief and Agile introduction (2012, 54 pages, Chris Sims & Hilary Louise Johnson)

1* Brief overview of Scrum in fifty small pages and not at all great, to be honest.

237 User Stories…. Unleashed (35 pages, 2013, Mike Turner/Ray Jordan & Sean Hurst)

1* This book covers why we should be using user stories, how to create and estimate them, and how to utilize them in real projects. Not as good as other user story books.

238 Agile Case Studies: Establishing a Plan (2014, 14 pages, Aleem Khan, Mike Turner, Sean Hurst)

1* This book presents why and how Close Watch Systems implemented Agile. It is a case study of this single company and only covers step 1 – establish a plan.

I struggle to see any real value in this book, there is certainly nothing that is not already published better elsewhere.

239 Scrum for Newbies: The amazingly simple, plain English guide to getting started with Scrum (2015, 32 pages, Jeremy Wilson).

1* This is twice the size of the Scrum Guide and half as readable.

Scrum for Newbies is wrong in several places, obscure in others, contradictory, condescending and poorly edited. I can see no reason to read this book at any level.


240 Agile for All: Managing Any Project like a Silicon Valley Startup (2014, 74 pages, Richard Bryan Vaughn)

1* This book is directed at project managers planning on piloting Agile within their organizations. There are sections on how to introduce Agile and gain that initial acceptance, how to launch Agile projects and how to be successful with them. There are also a few template style e-mails to use when requesting permission to run an Agile pilot.

The content is inaccurate and does not represent Agile as practiced by most companies. There are some really good Agile books available for project management and Agile, this is not one of them.

241 Agile Project Management for Beginners: The Ultimate Beginners Crash Course To Learn Agile Scrum Quickly And Easily (2015, 71 pages, Adam Vardy)

1* This book sets out to explain Project Management and Agile by looking at older methods and looking at the values and principles of Agile. Unfortunately, it fails miserably. The book is very poorly edited and does not format at all well on the Kindle. The content is also the usual high-level waffle without anything of practical value.

242 CSM – CERTIFIED SCRUM MASTER STUDY GUIDE (2015, Perumal Thiyagarajan,148 pages)

1* This book has an introduction to seven Agile methods, flashcards, true/false questions, fill-in-the-blank questions, a practice exam, strategies and definitions. And of course, it is very poor, although published in 2015 the terminology used is old and wrong, many of the questions are invalid and misleading and all of the content with other methodologies is a waste of time. The online multi-choice test is for Certified Scrum Master and Scrum is what the book should be focused upon. Read the Scrum Guide 2013 instead as it is only 16 pages and truly useful.

243 Agile Project Dashboards – Bringing value to Stakeholders and top management (2011, 15 pages, Leopoldo Simini)

1* More of an article than a book on how to set up a project reporting dashboard. It does show some reasonable metrics but overall poor.


244 Scrum Guide: Agile Project Management Guide for Scrum Master and Software Development Team (2015, 27 pages, Ryan Smith)

1* A description of Scrum that is not as good the original from

245 A Brief & Agile Introduction to Scrum: The Easy Project Management Guide from Beginner to Advanced! (2015, 48 pages, Mark Heisenberg)

1* Not great… generic Scrum introduction with an odd and invalid slant (client, producer, development crew) and strange ideas.

246 Scrum Master: Introduction and Brief Concept for Beginner Guide (2015, 42 pages, Salvatore Gaukroger)

1* A short guide to Scrum and why it should be used looking at the roles and artifacts (in which he groups Scrum events and artifacts). The Scrum Guide is free, only sixteen pages and much better than this badly edited and partly incorrect booklet.

247 Scrum Master: How to Quick Guide (2012, 16 pages, Sean McGammon)

1* A short and high-level view (again) of the Scrum framework: inaccurate and out of date. These overview booklets have no value, just read the Scrum Guide instead for free and learn the right basics of Scrum.

248 The Ultimate Scrum Guide For Beginners: Quickest Way To Learn All About The Most Popular Agile Framework (2015, 45 pages, Fareed Raja)

1* I suspect Fareed may have met with a Scrum Master once before writing a book on the subject. Really poor and short book on Scrum, frequently using out-of-date ideas and often just wrong.

249 How to become a Scrum Master in 7 Simple Steps (2014, 17 pages, Paul Vii)

1* If you want Paul’s resume then look on LinkedIn or just read this book… The book describes Paul’s career from his first position to becoming a Scrum Master. Every page has adverts for his other books and ‘Mega Pack’, honestly, there is no value here at all.

250 The Scrum Checklist, For the Agile Scrum Master, Product Owner, Stakeholder and Development Team (2014, 17 pages, Paul Vii)

1* This short book provides a checklist for each role and event in a (pseudo) Scrum project. The Scrum Guide is better, shorter and free so I see no point in this book other than selling Paul’s Mega Pack. On a Snog Marry Avoid scale I am definitely going with Avoid.

251 72 Reasons Why Scrum Works, For the Agile Scrum Master, Product Owner, Stakeholder and Development Team (2014, 13 pages, Paul Vii)

1* Along with Paul’s other books (excepting the power of scrum) this is a very short presentation of information generally expressed better elsewhere. It is not bad but adds nothing to the Scrum body of knowledge.

252 Scrum of Scrums, Agile Programme Management, For the Agile Scrum Master, Product Owner, Stakeholder and Development Team (2014, 16 pages, Paul Vii)

1* There is better information online regarding Scrum of Scrums including its origin in Jeff Sutherland’s paper of 2001. Not terrible but very short and it is difficult to believe it gives you anything other than an overview.

253 Scrum Top Tips, For the Agile Scrum Master, Product Owner, Stakeholder and Development Team (2014, 10 pages, Paul Vii)

1* Seven pieces of advice with discussion (spoiler alert):

– Tip 1: Know the Scrum guide inside out

– Tip 2: Stick to the rules (come what may)

– Tip 3: Trust the Scrum framework (and learn to leverage it)

– Tip 4: Complement Scrum with the Agile Toolkit

– Tip 5: Trust the team and learn to leverage them

– Tip 6: Respect motivates teams

– Tip 7: Common sense is the golden rule

The advice is ok, if trite, but the ‘book’ is too short but not practical.

254 How to Meet a Project Deadline with Scrum, In 7 simple steps For the Business, Agile Project Manager, Scrum Master, Product Owner, and Development Team (2014, 25 pages, Paul Vii)

1* A slightly longer book from Paul looking at making Agile projects a success. The seven “simple steps” proposed are:

  1. Make sure the product backlog is “ready” to start work on
  2. Only commit to what you can confidently deliver
  3. Buffer all tasks
  4. Use evidence from the past (empirical evidence) to make commitments
  5. Develop efficient means of communication
  6. Get a kick out of completing tasks
  7. Use the retrospective: Keep improving on meeting deadlines!

The book is ok for a quick read and has some valid advice. I do not agree with some of Paul’s suggestions but I am willing to consider them.

255 User-Stories: Project, Application, and System Backlog Examples (2015, 41 pages specified, Jeremy Kennedy)

1* This ‘book’ from Jeremy Kennedy is part of the PM Assistant range and includes a brief overview of user stories followed by fifty examples from real projects. Although it is good to see these examples shown following the traditional format without context they are at most interesting. Lastly, £4.74 for a displayed nine pages is a trifle excessive.


256 Kanban: Understanding Kanban Method (2012, 19 pages, Steve Howard)

1* This very short book confuses production Kanban, as per Toyota and Lean, with software development Kanban (David Anderson). Very unclear explanations without originality, read some of the original texts instead on whichever lean flavor you are looking for.

257 Scrum for Beginners: Introduction to Agile Development with Scrum (2013, 31 pages. Mehmet Akyol)

1* Poor and derivative overview of the Scrum framework with many errors and out of date content – Crystal Clear seriously? Read the Scrum Guide, it’s canon and better.

258 Demystifying Agile, Scrum, and IT Service Management (2015, 50 pages, Erika Flora)

1* There are a couple of important points made on the need for development and operations to work well together on Agile projects echoing the lean ‘concept to cash’ flow. There is a massive problem that the diagrams are all blacked out on the Kindle edition that makes part of the book unreadable.

259 Agile: The Half-Assed Guide to Creating Anything You Want From Scratch. No Experts Required! (2014, 39 pages, Sasha Mobley)

1* To me this is just not a book, I have written blog posts longer than this (and you have my heartfelt apology). Sasha wrote this during a brief commute and it shows, the advice is fine but just not particularly Agile, innovative or interesting.

Basically, think of your goal and why you really wish to achieve it. Break the goal into small chunks and run a measurable sprint on each one. Have a support team behind you, plan, review and celebrate success.

The style is easy to read, similar to a chatty self-help blog post, but it is not worth paying for in my opinion.

260 Cranked: A lean & agile software development method (2014, 150 pages, Steve Fenton)

1* Simply terrible, I had high hopes for this book to show originality and push the boundaries on Agile but it fails in every way. You do get 142 sparse pages containing an Agile variant which attempts to define a new methodology merging some existing ideas with a mechanical crank concept. I cannot see originality or improvement over what already exists and can see no reason for this book to be printed.


Well done for getting this far, longest page ever!