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Succeeding with Agile: Software Development Using Scrum (Addison-Wesley Signature) Paperback – 26 Oct 2009

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Praise for Succeeding with Agile


“Understanding the mechanics of an agile process is just not enough. Mike Cohn has compiled a superb and comprehensive collection of advice that will help individuals and teams with the intricate task of adopting and adapting agile processes to fit their specific challenges. This book will become the definitive handbook for agile teams.”

Colin Bird, Global Head of Agile, EMC Consulting


“Mike Cohn’s experience working with so many different organizations in the adoption of agile methods shines through with practical approaches and valuable insights. If you really want agile methods to stick, this is the book to read.”

Jeff Honious, Vice President, Innovation, Reed Elsevier


“Mike Cohn has done it again. Succeeding with Agile is based on his experience, and all of our experience, with agile to date. He covers from the earliest days of the project up to maturity and offers advice for the individual, the team, and the enterprise. No matter where you are in the agile cycle, this book has something for you!”

Ron Jeffries,


“If you want to start or take the next step in agile software development, this book is for you. It discusses issues, great solutions, and helpful guidelines when scaling up in agile projects. We used the guidelines from this book extensively when we introduced agile in a large, FDA-regulated department.”

Christ Vriens, Department Head of MiPlaza, part of Philips Research


“If making the move to agile has always baffled you, then this book will unlock its mysteries. Mike Cohn gives us all the definitive, no-nonsense guide to transforming your organization into a high-powered, innovative, and competitive success.”

Steve Greene, Senior Director, Program Management and Agile Development,


“Mike Cohn is a great advisor for transforming your software organization. This book is a distillation of everything Mike has learned over the years working with companies that are trying to become more agile. If you are thinking of going agile, pick up this book.”

Christopher Fry, Ph.D., Vice President Development, Platform,


“Whether you’re just starting out or have some Scrum experience under your belt, in Succeeding with Agile, Mike Cohn provides a wealth of information to guide you in your quest toward continuous improvement. Throughout the book, concepts are reinforced with practical everyday advice, including how to handle objections and thought-provoking ‘things to try now.’ An extensive list of recommended readings round this out to be a must have book.”

Nikki Rohm, Studio Director Project and Resource Management, Electronic Arts


“The first steps along the path of improving your software process with Scrum are hard, and every step reveals new challenges. In Succeeding with Agile, Mike Cohn shows how other organizations have followed this path, how you can learn from them to have a successful implementation of Scrum, and put your organization on the path of constant improvement and delivery of value.”

Johanes Brodwall, Chief Scientist, Steria Norway


“I began to recommend Mike Cohn’s new book as soon as I began to review it. It seems that as soon as someone asked me a question about some corner of agile development, I would realize that I had just read something excellent in one of Mike’s chapters. I am so glad the book is finally out so I can stop saying, ‘Mike Cohn has a great new book coming out soon that will talk about this problem.’ Now I can say, ‘Mike’s book is out! Get it!’”

Linda Rising, Coauthor with Mary Lynn Manns of Fearless Change: Patterns for Introducing New Ideas


“The title says it all; this is an astonishingly insightful and pragmatic guide to succeeding with agile software development. If you only read one agile book, this is the one. I want to give it to all my clients now!”

Henrik Kniberg, Agile Coach, Agile Alliance Board Member, Author of Scrum and XP from the Trenches


“Mike Cohn blends thorough theoretical knowledge with practical hands-on techniques. This is another great agile book from Mike. It will help your team, your department, or your whole organization Succeed with Agile.”

Matt Truxaw, Application Delivery Manager, Kaiser Permanente IT, Certified Scrum Master


“Mike Cohn’s new book is the definitive guide for companies transitioning to Scrum. Its contents are practical and easily accessible. Get it, read it, and apply it!”

Roman Pichler, Author of Agile Product Management with Scrum


Succeeding with Agile is at once enormously practical, deeply insightful, and a pleasure to read. It combines great ideas with stories and examples from around the software industry and will appeal to a wide range of readers, from those looking to adopt a new company-wide agile process to developers who just need to improve the way a team is running a single project.”

Andrew Stellman, Developer, Project Manager, and Author of Head First PMP, Beautiful Teams, Applied Software Project Management


“Adopting agile methods is hard enough on a greenfield web app in a small company. Transforming an enterprise is another matter. This book captures challenges like the ones we faced and offers insight and, more importantly, practical approaches.”

Michael Wollin, Senior Development Manager, Broadcast Production Systems, CNN


“Mike Cohn has put together a fantastic book of guidelines to not only start the Scrum implementation, but to turn your entire corporation into an agile community. I have already implemented many of the recommendations included in this text and have seen a positive influence on the support for Scrum within our organization.”

James Tischart, CSM, CSP, CTFL, Vice President, Product Delivery, Mx Logic, Inc


“In Succeeding with Agile, Mike Cohn has scoured and sifted through the collective experience and lessons of not only scores of different projects, teams, and organizations from his own agile experience, but also from the experience of countless others. He provides real-world stories from the trenches, useful data and studies, and invaluable insights into what has and hasn’t worked well when adopting, adapting, and scaling Scrum. What I like best about the book is where Mike provides wisdom on several different alternatives and approaches and the circumstances in which each is most suitable.”

Brad Appleton, Internal Agile Consultant at a Fortune 100 telecommunications company


“I believe Mike Cohn’s book will answer many questions and issues that people and teams struggle with in terms of how to improve collaboration, communication, quality, and team productivity. I especially appreciate and agree with Mike’s statement that ‘there can be no end state in a process that calls for continuous improvement.’ This is hard work and it requires persistence, teamwork, and good people. I plan to make Succeeding with Agile mandatory reading within my organization, just like we did with his book on Agile Estimating and Planning.”

Scott Spencer, Vice President Engineering, First American CoreLogic, Inc.


“Mike Cohn has done it again. This comprehensive study of agile software development provides numerous techniques and methodologies to achieve success. I enthusiastically recommend this book to anyone who wants to start using agile or wants to improve their software development process.”

Benoit Houle, Senior Development Manager, BioWare (a Division of Electronic Arts)


“There’s no doubt that Mike Cohn’s new book will become the reference on how to run software projects with Scrum. The book is very carefully crafted and avoids the trap of giving you the one, simple recipe to all your problems. Though mainly centered on Scrum, Mike draws on various other techniques to produce a handbook that is thorough and complete. This is not a hasty mash-up supported by just an act of faith or a single experience. The examples are credible and are a testimony of Mike’s vast personal experience of the topic.”

Philippe Kruchten, Professor of Software Engineering at University of British Columbia


“This book is packed with useful advice on how your organization can become agile. It’s a practical handbook for coaches and change agents who face real-world challenges, such as scaling agile for distributed teams, and who seek to engage with the wider organization. I love the way that Mike Cohn brings the book to life with stories from situations he’s faced in the industry and follows up with data and insights from research. I learned something new from every chapter, and I bet you will too.”

Rachel Davies, Coauthor of Agile Coaching

From the Back Cover

Proven, 100% Practical Guidance for Making Scrum and Agile Work in Any Organization


This is the definitive, realistic, actionable guide to starting fast with Scrum and agile–and then succeeding over the long haul. Leading agile consultant and practitioner Mike Cohn presents detailed recommendations, powerful tips, and real-world case studies drawn from his unparalleled experience helping hundreds of software organizations make Scrum and agile work.


Succeeding with Agile is for pragmatic software professionals who want real answers to the most difficult challenges they face in implementing Scrum. Cohn covers every facet of the transition: getting started, helping individuals transition to new roles, structuring teams, scaling up, working with a distributed team, and finally, implementing effective metrics and continuous improvement.


Throughout, Cohn presents “Things to Try Now” sections based on his most successful advice. Complementary “Objection” sections reproduce typical conversations with those resisting change and offer practical guidance for addressing their concerns. Coverage includes 

  • Practical ways to get started immediately–and “get good” fast
  • Overcoming individual resistance to the changes Scrum requires
  • Staffing Scrum projects and building effective teams
  • Establishing “improvement communities” of people who are passionate about driving change
  • Choosing which agile technical practices to use or experiment with
  • Leading self-organizing teams
  • Making the most of Scrum sprints, planning, and quality techniques
  • Scaling Scrum to distributed, multiteam projects
  • Using Scrum on projects with complex sequential processes or challenging compliance and governance requirements
  • Understanding Scrum’s impact on HR, facilities, and project management

Whether you've completed a few sprints or multiple agile projects and whatever your role–manager, developer, coach, ScrumMaster, product owner, analyst, team lead, or project lead–this book will help you succeed with your very next project. Then, it will help you go much further: It will help you transform your entire development organization.


Inside This Book

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Bent Myllerup on 22 Feb. 2010
Format: Paperback
Mike Cohn's books have always been great resources of inspiration for me: Both in my early agile days, where I transformed from being a traditional project manager to a newborn ScrumMaster, as well as today where I, as a Certified Scrum Coach, helps clients to excellence in agile product development. Cohn's latest book: "Succeeding With Agile Software Development Using Scrum" is no exception to this - in fact, I consider this book to be the best I have ever read in the area of broad covering what is necessary in order to succeed with agile development.

When stating "broad coverage", I by no means indicate that this book is a brief description of the relevant subjects. On a contrary, it is more than 400 pages full of insights, details and suggestions on how to succeed with agile implementations in organizations of diverse sizes and cultures. Cohn has done a great job in compiling the essence from many sources and combine it with his own experiences and significant opinions into this masterpiece. There are other books that dig deeper on single subjects (like the up-coming books by Roman Pichler and Lyssa Adkins) which Cohn respectfully are suggesting as additional reading by the end of each chapter.

As Cohn states at the very beginning: "This is not a book for those who are completely new to Scrum or agile". I agree. If you are looking for an introduction to Scrum, you should turn to other sources like the official Scrum Guide or one of Ken Schwabers books, just as long as you remember to come back to this one after gaining experience on your own. This book is filled with descriptions and figures that help even well experienced and highly certified agile practitioners to get the clear picture!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By B. Eppel on 29 Dec. 2010
Format: Paperback
This book is really about implementing Agile development within a bigger multi department organisation - I found it had very little that was relevant to my specific circumstances in a small agency.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By R. J. Bransden on 7 Jun. 2010
Format: Paperback
Well written with a very thorough grounding in the subject. Not for the faint hearted but if you are used to agile but want to delve deeper, then this is a good read. Don't expect to skim through it though, you'll need the time to really get to grips with some of the sections.
A good buy for those who want to learn more about a subject they already understand (don't get me wrong though, even if you're new to agile this is a very worthwhile book)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Martin R. Kearns on 9 Dec. 2009
Format: Paperback
For a while I was wondering why Mike has not published a book on a heated topic for a number of years, but now I know why !!

In "Succeeding with Agile" you get to enjoy a collection of ideas and more importantly structure on how to truly embrace agile within any organization. It is very obvious that a large investment in time to research to explain key topics with regards to the implementation of Scrum has been undertaken. I also value the reference material at the end of each chapter to guide my learning to expand upon any topic that graps my attention.

This is an intermediate book and an understanding of the Scrum framework armed with some experiences and scars in trying to implement agile will make this book a valuable asset in your library.

Well done mike, great job.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Nathan on 20 April 2010
Format: Paperback
If you're new to scrum of been doing it for a while this book will help you improve your practices.

Whilst you can read it front to back it is designed so that you should be to use it like a reference book and pick it up and read just what you need.

The only thing that I found was missing was any advice on interacting with sales and where a team is dealing with multiple product owners but I don't know of any book that covers this at the present time.

A really good book that is a must for any budding scrum master, product owner or scrum coach.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Clarke on 30 Nov. 2009
Format: Paperback
In this book, Mike Cohn, moves away teaching you HOW to do agile, towards HOW to IMPLEMENT Agile so that it works and sticks. This is an excellent book. Very practical and pragmatic; based on loads of experience in the real world.
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Format: Kindle Edition
One of the easiest things to do in print is to praise a strategy or set of tactics used to perform difficult tasks. When all you are doing is simply expounding the stated virtues of a methodology, you are somewhat free to use hype, anecdotal information and instance proofs of success. Implementation details and explanations of logical and frequent difficulties encountered by practitioners of the methodology are ignored or minimized.
That is not the case in this book, Cohn describes the agile software development process and he provides extensive examples of the use of the Scrum methodology and the difficulties commonly encountered. It is easy to understand the hesitation that development teams will have when considering the adoption of Scrum. The development of large software projects is the most complex task that humans have ever undertaken; even a single wrong character out of millions can break a program. The appearance of the relaxation of controls of the process can appear counterintuitive, as it seems that would allow for additional errors to slip through the weakened defenses.
Cohn goes to great lengths to demonstrate how Scrum will strengthen those defenses by reducing the likelihood that errors will survive for very long. Splitting the process into short spurts means that all minds can be on deck and their focus will be on a small set of parameters. This is a way to make minds smarter without actually having to be smarter. Cohn also joins the collective clamor against the extensive use of overtime as a way to compress the time to completion. Evidence going back decades is completely convincing that when it is brainwork, overtime can only increase productivity for a short time.
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