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on 12 February 2016
This book is less about agile and more about methods to manipulate an people / an organisation into adopting agile based on substanceless hype.

Its like one of those personal improvement seminars where you learn to "reach your goals" with wishful statements like "Success if not to be perused; it is to be attracted by the person you come" and where the true secrets lie in the next seminar / book.

If I paraphrase an actual example from the book. "Person X tried to implement scrum and it failed. He then paid for some coaching and read some books. A year later he wanted to try again but knew Scrum wouldnt go down well with the directors given its previous failure. So this time he said to them he was implementing an "agile" process (note the lower a, Agile is a brand, agile is just being "agile") and implemented scrum anyway -> everything worked much faster, smoother quicker and everyone was real happy"
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on 22 February 2010
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!

In each chapter, Cohn has included small time-outs named "Things to try now" and "Objection". The first type helps the reader to reflect on his (or should I rather say "her"?) current practice, as well as give concrete suggestions on things that can be done in order to add some positive change. I have personally found many grains of gold that I will apply to my own practice. The second type, "Objection" is actually quite unique. In those sections, Cohn puts himself in the shoes of the skeptical stakeholder and state reasons why Scrum is not working - or at least not is going to work in MY organization (I am just reminded of having similar objections myself the first time I heard about Scrum - luckily I was wrong!). Of course he also takes the time to answer back on each objection by acknowledging the problem behind the objection and providing pragmatic solutions that easily can be implemented.

Reading the book is just like getting a Dan Brown novel in your hands - in fact, I have put "The Lost Symbol" on hold for the benefit of this one! It is written in a clear language with well-described examples and the humor you always sense whenever you read or have live experiences of Cohn. You will get enormous value where either you read it from start to finish or handpick chapters whenever needed.

This one will be one of my primary references for quite a while. Well done, Mike!

Bent Myllerup
Certified Scrum Coach, Project Management Professional and Certified Systemic Coach.
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on 7 June 2010
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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on 9 December 2009
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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on 20 April 2010
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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on 30 November 2009
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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on 28 December 2014
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. Intellectual fatigue rapidly sets in and after approximately three weeks, the productivity level begins to drop down to less that what is achieved in a standard forty-hour week.
Charts, graphs and tables are used to support the arguments made for the adoption and intelligent use of Scrum. Convincing a team to adopt Scrum is essentially using facts and demonstrated rewards to overcome emotional barriers and the natural unwillingness to execute change. This cannot be done in any way other than by starting with the reality of current problems, giving multiple demonstrations that it can work and then detailed explanations of how to overcome common obstacles that are encountered. Cohn does all of this very well; this book is an excellent point to begin the study and adoption of Scrum.

Published in the online Journal of Object Technology, reprinted with permission.
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on 5 July 2010
This book is a well written book that breaks the Scrum version of Agile Project Management method into logical chunks and makes complete sense. I have personally found this confirms a lot of the methodologies that I have put into practice in industries other than software and those skills/tips and tricks that translate across all methods of project management.

I found myself highlighting each paragraph or diagram that I found useful but had to stop 2/3 of the way through as I found a snippet of information worthy of highlighting on every page and I ran out of markers.

Mike explains in detail but in a very clear way how to get the best out of your team and set expectations for all stakeholders through the process of Scrum a book written with an obvious expertise in delivering software project exactly to all stakeholders expectations.

Obviously I would recommend this book to everyone who has a vested interest in Software Projects but I would go so far as to say that a lot of the material in here can be cross linked to every industry in some shape or form.
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on 29 December 2010
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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on 26 July 2013
There are a few Scrum / Agile / Lean books which everyone on a software team should read and this is one of them. The information in this book is like gold-dust. It's been learned the hard way by the author! The information is well thought out and presented. Buy it now!
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