on 15 May 2009
This book from Craig Larman and Bas Vodde is a classic example of the fact that it is better to teach somebody to fish than to give him fish. It emphasizes that it is important to "be agile" more than to "do agile". Approaches like Scrum or Lean are more frameworks to think about continuous improvement than tools that should be applied blindly like cooking recipes. The book will therefore tell you that "large-scale Scrum is Scrum" or that lean is not just kanban or waste reduction. The first part of the book is focused on thinking tools (systems thinking, lean thinking, queueing theory) that are presented with software project management related examples. Those who are looking for practical advice should not believe that the book remains only at the conceptual level. The authors distill many "try..." and "avoid..." recommendations that will help you implement agile and lean ideas in your organization. The second part of the book is devoted to organizational tools and the final chapter proposes frameworks to adapt Scrum to larger contexts.
This book is a must for those who believe that software development project management goes beyond the simple application of "silver bullet" recipes. It is a rich source of both thinking and practical content that is well suited for non-linear reading. A very good "Scrum primer" chapter at the end of the book will provide an introduction for those who are not familiar with this approach and a large number of "recommended readings" items will allow readers to explore more in details each concept.
on 24 March 2009
I have been using various Agile methods for over 8 years (DSDM, Scrum) with lots of success, but recently my focus has changed to considering the impacts of adopting Agile in organisations.
Agile is growing up - it has solved a lot of the problems at the technical team level but many projects still hit problems. Most practioners have hit these problems before, for example
- how to reconcile the flexibility of agile with annual IT budgets
- how to reconcile a fixed price contract without agreeing a set of requirements to deliver
Craig's book helps answer a lot of these questions, and also discusses the issues of scaling agile to larger teams, products, organisations. Most importantly the book introduces some excellent techniques that not only deliver a deeper understanding of Lean principles, but also give solid techniques and examples of applying them in companies.
My only criticism is that this book has a companion book which isn't released yet.