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Rolling Rocks Downhill: The Agile Business Novel that NEVER mentions Agile. by [Ching, Clarke]
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Rolling Rocks Downhill: The Agile Business Novel that NEVER mentions Agile. Kindle Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Length: 321 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product description

About the Author

Clarke Ching is an Agile and Theory of Constraints expert. Born in New Zealand, he now lives in Scotland with his wife, Winnie, and their two children, Aisling and Alice.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2353 KB
  • Print Length: 321 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00PJ8HBW8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #128,292 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
Rolling Rocks Downhill is a parable about using agile techniques in a modern software development context. This isn't a textbook or a reference book, it's a novel, it's a story. This makes it much easier to read cover to cover. A typical reference book tends to be dipped into for specific answers, which isn't a good format for "understanding agile".

Ching gets around the resistance to agile by simply giving the characters no choice, he sets up an impossible project then keeps making things worse. This helps explain that almost complete lack of questioning of the techniques that are proposed. It was a little sleight of hand that I can understand. It's not a bad message. You can't impose Agile. People have to be ready for it, open to it. To accelerate that journey for a book, you make them desperate.

Another slightly unrealistic aspect of the book is that there isn't the initial "dip" in performance/productivity, and the inevitable temptation to revert to old habits. That felt like a pretty glaring plotline to omit since I suspect it's one of the biggest challenges. Given the newness of the principles to all involved and the pressure they were under, it felt a little too easy. Maybe a sequel will cover that ground.

One thing I did like is that the TCQ expert who planted the initial seed, isn't overused. He's sent on vacation for the critical part of the book leaving the team to figure things out on their own. He pops up occasionally in emails asking just the right question or pointing to just the right book but the overriding theme is you have to find your own solutions.

Another noticeable aspect of the story was that the team didn't adopt a methodology, or a framework like Scrum or Kanban.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Written as a business novel in the style of Eliyahu Goldratt's book "The Goal" (which has clearly had a major influence on Clarke Ching's thinking), it's easier to read than a text book and somehow the ideas seem to sink in more too. The ideas seem obvious (especially in hindsight!) but this book brings home quite how much effect on the bottom-line a few simple changes can have. Hardly any software companies are practicing them. This is a book that needs to be read widely. It will boost the economy!

My only wish is that there were some kind of "in a nutshell" cheat-sheet at the end of the book, so you could review the ideas without having to thumb back through the book (which is not altogether easy in an e-book). Still, it's a great book and I very highly recommend it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Are you facing challenges on your organizations project performance? Have you ever been thinking if agile might be worth exploring? Or have you wondered what is TOC or Theory of Constraints? If so, this book is for you!

Written as a novel, Clarke Ching will take his readers on a journey on a software company that is struggling with seemingly unrealistic due dates and the quality of their products. As this is a nicely written story you want to read from cover to cover. Clarke is able to grab what is good in agile and present it in a way that you want to try it in your own company as well. But that's not all: he takes the approach further with the techniques of the TOC.

So you are not on a software industry? That's not a problem - many practices presented in the book can be applied in any industry. There is also an excellent "case study" about the company's cafeteria that shows how TOC principles can be used in a restaurant, and how same rules can be applied to any business, in this case software industry - and how close agile is to TOC.

So get this book and read it, you won't be disappointed! ...And I still can't think of anything but the small batches :-)
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I know the story approach works for a lot of people, and I can certainly appreciate the effort that has gone into this, but I'm afraid it left me cold. Too many times I was thinking 'when are you going to mention ...?'. In the end I didn't have the patience to see how the story played out.
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Format: Kindle Edition
If you are looking for a business novel that explains how to consider and apply Theory of Constraints concepts to the software development process, then Rolling Rocks Downhill is the book for you.

The story is one we’ve seen every day, a boardroom objective that puts IT jobs on the line, an industry that is ever changing, software professionals faced with countless obstacles on the race to meet deadlines that make success seem improbable. Whilst it does take a dozen or so chapters to fully introduce the TOC basics, it does so in a way that compels you to continue to read to the end.

Everything you need to learn about is introduced in bite-sized, easy to digest and apply portions - batches, backlogs, estimation, frequent releases, early testing, and so forth. They are introduced by way of analogous application into a non-software environment (I shall say no more), which underlines that the practices are transportable if applied correctly.

A few things from the book are worthy of immediate application, some are probably not exactly TOC specific. For example, every project needs a character like ‘Catherine’ - success is much easier to achieve with such a considerate business partner.

What is impressive is that the story keeps focus on the fact that systems and process behaviour are constantly in motion and evolution - just when you thought batches were the answer, something new emerges!

It is a difficult task to write an easy to read book that introduces a concept from one industry to another. Business novels aim to ensure nothing gets lost in the translation of concepts, ideals, and hope that the reader can realise the value of the endeavour. Rolling Rocks Downhill is a novel that has been a long time in the making, and thankfully Clarke has succeeded in writing a worthy TOC introduction that does not alienate veterans of either process.
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