Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Succeeding with Agile

Author:        Mike Cohn
Published:    2010
Publisher:     Dorling  Kindersley India Pvt. Ltd.
Paperback: 504 pages

Scrum is a deceptively simple agile framework for developing software products in a complex and dynamically changing environment. Theoretically understanding the framework is easy but successfully implementing and reaping the benefits is not.
This book by Mike Cohn aims to provide you the know-how to "Succeed with Agile" (or to be more precise "with Scrum") based on his 15-years experience in implementing Scrum.
This is not an introductory book on Agile or Scrum. It assumes that the reader already knows the fundamentals of Scrum and tried his hands in implementing the same.

The book is organized in Five Parts as follows:

Part I : Getting Started - advice on whether to start small or take a big bang approach; how to create awareness and sense of need for implementing Scrum and subsequently developing the ability to do it; and how to select initial projects and teams, establishing improvement communities and improvement backlogs. 

Part II: Individuals - the changes  that each individual needs to make as part of the process of adopting Scrum; the type of resistance some individuals may exhibit;  thinking about why someone is resistant; guidance on how to help the person get past the resistance; the new roles that exist on a Scrum project and the changes necessary in the traditional roles; some of the technical practices (continuous integration, pair programming, test-driven development, and so on) that should be piloted and introduced to change for better the day-to-day work approach of the individuals. 

Part III:  Teams -  how to structure teams to best achieve the benefits of Scrum; nature of teamwork on a Scrum project; what it means to lead a self- organizing Scrum team; specific advice for what ScrumMasters, functional  managers, and other leaders can do to help a team self-organize for success; changes teams should make to work effectively with a product backlog; need for the whole team to work together to ensure that a sprint's goals are met; planning challenges faced by the teams; advice on separating estimates created by a team from the commitments the team makes.

Part IV: The Organization -  what is necessary to scale Scrum up to work on large, multi-team projects; dealing with complexities of distributed teams; how to make Scrum work when part of the project uses a sequential process or when there are compliance or governance requirements; special considerations of the impact of Scrum on an organization’s human resources, facilities, and project management office groups.

Part V: Next Steps - various approaches to measure how far an organization has progressed in becoming agile; need for continuous improvement to maintain agility.

In most of the twenty-two chapters of this book Cohn organizes his advice on overcoming some universally common problems faced during Agile/Scrum journey  as "Things to Try Now" and "Objection".

Things to Try Now - Recreates the pieces of advice which the author found himself giving most often to his clients or that was most helpful in particular situations. Over 100 Things to Try Out !

Objection - Reproduces  typical objections (around 60 ! )  raised on Scrum/Agile   during author's  training/consulting sessions and author's counter arguments.

Each chapter has a section on Additional Reading which goes beyond just citing the references. Against most of the cited reference  Cohn provides a succinct 2-3 summary of the reference. This helps the reader in choosing the appropriate reference for further reading.

On the whole a very useful and handy guide book for Agile/Scrum implementers at all levels in an organization.  I was lucky enough to get it as a complimentary copy during the Certified ScrumMaster training I attended last month ! Have started reading it all over again !

1 comment:

dharman said...

just linked this article on my facebook account. it’s a very interesting article for all.

Scrum Process

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