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Lean from the Trenches: Managing Large-Scale Projects with Kanban Paperback – 24 Dec 2011
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""FANTASTIC! I know it's going to make a big dent in the world of software development. It's easily the most important book I have seen in the past year!""--Mary Poppendieck, Author of the "Lean Software Development" series
"I c"ould not stop reading "Lean from the Trenches." This book shows me that a big project can be run in a lean and agile way. For people in the trenches of large enterprises, stories like this make a huge difference.""--Yves Hanoulle, Change Artist at PairCoaching.net
""An excellent peek into a pragmatic application of the best of the agile processes in a real-world scenario. If you ever wondered "Am I doing it right?" then this book may just provide you with the answer. Every technical team lead interested in seeing how an agile process actually works should buy this now!""--Colin Yates, Principle Engineer, QFI Consulting LLP, UK
About the Author
Henrik Kniberg is a coach and consultant at Crisp. Henrik's background is a mix of development and management, and his passion is applying Lean and Agile principles to help debug, optimize, and refactor companies. Henrik is the author of Scrum and XP from the Trenches and Kanban & Scrum, making the most of both and a popular keynote speaker at conferences worldwide. Henrik lives in Stockholm with his wife and four kids, and in his "spare time" plays bass and keyboard with two local bands.
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Top customer reviews
I especially liked the mix of Scrum and Kanban. A few days after reading the book I completely redid the project board based on a more kanban style with separate streams for small teams rather than individuals on a scrum board. This has proven to be very effective.
I read the book in one go, without putting it down, during a five hour flight. The first part is the case study of the delivery of the Digital Investigation System for the Swedish Police Authority. The second part is a deeper dive into the techniques and tools used to set up and run the delivery process. The book is for experienced practitioners and newbies alike. People new to Kanban and Lean software delivery will benefit from a real-world warts-and-all case study, with a pretty good example of how things were set up. Examples of process metrics, bug handling, setting up a Kanban board across teams and handling technical stories will be particularly interesting to people who had some prior knowledge but haven't seen the techniques work at large. Part II will probably help newbies make a lot more sense out of Part I, so if you are completely new to the topic it might be worth reading the second part first. Practitioners will benefit from some nice insights and ideas spread across the first part of the book, for example imposing work-in-progress limits on bugs, distinguishing between buffer and WIP columns on Kanban boards and setting up a "continuous process improvement engine".
The last point is incredibly important, as continous process improvement is one of the key aspects of successful delivery in my experience. Knibeg nails it with "A great process isn't designed; it is evolved". Many other authors have written on this topic, but Kniberg's unique contribution with this book is a simple guideline that will help teams put this in place: Clarity, Communication, Data. Kniberg documents how physical boards provide visibility and clarity, how periodic process improvement workshops within a team and across teams communicate ideas and how simple metrics provide data to help a team stay on the right track. The entire chapter 10 is devoted to this topic. In addition to that chapter, my special thanks go to Kniberg for his glossary appendix, where he lists how they avoided the buzzword lingo that turns off so many people. For example, using "Process Improvement Meeting" instead of "Sprint Retrospective".
Five out of five stars, without hesitation. Drop whatever you are reading now and read this one instead.
Having previously read two of his other books I was expecting a helpful book. ("Kanban and Scrum - making the most of both" & "Scrum and XP from the Trenches (Enterprise Software Development)"). Kniberg is very much a Kanban man so I was interested in his Lean views.
And this book I thought was very good. He adopts a reflection of a large scale project for the Police in Sweden, and the aspects they learned by adopting lean practices as they went along. And then in later chapters more detailed reflections and background on subject matters. (I suspect the authoring style leads readers to think it was all accidentally knowledge gained by the team along the way, but knowing his previous experience I am sure he nudged most in the right direction).
His writing style and diagrams are very easy to follow and I finished the book in a few days read on the commute, and was very inspired. Highly recommended.
With that background, I found "Lean from the Trenches: Managing Large-Scale Projects with Kanban" an interesting and useful read. It spurred me on to do some things that fall within my remit (e.g. highlighting the "top 5 recurring bugs"), and it reminded me to draw up some cause-effect diagrams (a technique I have used intermittently for years but without knowing it had a name). It also covered things such as the stable-trunk pattern, the importance of a clear definition of Done (or "ready for system test"), and regular process-improvement meetings (retrospectives) that seem so obvious, but which many teams do not implement. However, for me, the key thing that I gained from this book was the importance of a "work in progress" limit at each point on the project board. One hazard of having experience of working at every point in the SDLC is that so many people call on you to do things, which without a "work in progress" limit eventually becomes unsustainable. Again, this is something I had worked out for myself already, but the idea of formalising a "work in progress" limit across the project board is definitely one of those "of course, why didn't I think of that?" moments.
Whilst the emphasis is on Kanban, this book does talk about Scrum, XP etc. I wonder if it's a book that is more useful if you have already been working in a Lean/Agile environment for a while, but I think it would be useful even if you haven't. For those who are new to Lean/Agile, it may be worth reading Part II before Part I, in order to understand the techniques before seeing how they are used in practice.
Relatively short (always good), easy to read, and very useful. Highly recommended.
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