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Books I Recommend Often…

Mike Cottmeyer Chief Executive Officer
Reading: Books I Recommend Often…
Quite frequently I am out talking to traditional project managers or new agile teams that want to learn a little bit more about all this agile stuff. Inevitibly I get asked what books I recommend for folks trying to sharpen their agile chops. Thought I would share a few that I recommend the most with a few words on why I think they are important:
This was the first book on agile I ever read and it really is foundational to the whole agile movement. The practices behind XP are the the secret sauce that makes all the agile project management and leadership stuff really hum.
How can you talk about agile nowadays without knowing something about Scrum? This book does a great job explaining the project management side of Scrum and is a great resource for someone just getting their feet wet with agile.
No one explains agile planning better than Mike Cohn. Release planning… got it. Velocity… got it. Planning poker… got it. If you understand the fundamentals and want to put planning structure around agile, read this book. It is essential for running a disciplined agile project.
User Stories Applied – Mike Cohn
Two in a row from Mike Cohn? User stories tend to trip people up. Understanding how to write requirements as functional threads valuable to a customer is hard… this book helps you do it better.
Agile Software Development – Alistair Cockburn
I can’t have a list of agile books without one from Alistair Cockburn. I probably like this book best, but don’t usually recommend it first. It describes software development as a cooperative game… similar to musicians improvising on stage. A bit esoteric, but a brillant piece and a must read for the more advanced practitioner.
Software Project Manager’s Bridge to Agility – Michele Sliger and Stacia Broderick
This is really the first book that mapped the processes behind the PMBOK with agile methods. These ladies and I really see the world the same way. I am a PMP and this is the one I always recommend when talking to the PMI crowd. It is a must read for the PMP trying to manage an agile project.
Scaling Lean & Agile Development – Bas Vodde and Craig Larman
I am not as sold on this one, but it is one of the few that addresses agile at scale. There are a few things I disagree with and I think it is a little dogmatic about taking the feature team approach. It is well written and provides a valid perspecitve on how to scale agile to the enterprise.
Scaling Software Agility – Dean Leffingwell
In my opinion this is the only book that adequately addresses dealing with agile at scale in a complex enterprise… period. If you are building complex applications, systems of systems, in a large organzation… this book is a must read. This is the one I find myself recommending most frequently as of late. Its the only book that really challenges the idea of a feature team and provides a credible alternative.
Managing Iterative Software Development Projects – Kurt Bittner and Ian Spence
This one is a little non-agile… almost RUP… but I think it does a solid job of explaining iterative and incremental software project management… with a bit of a nod to the agile practitioner.
Any others that should be added to this list? Put your recommendation in the comments… but make sure to explain why it needs to be added.
Next Agilepalooza!

Comments (2)

  1. Project Management Tools & Techniques

    Great list! Definitely a good way to learn about Agile. I’d be interested in knowing what kind of supplemental material you’d include: any blogs by the book’s authors that expand on and update the message, for example?

  2. Steven Hong

    Hi Mike. Steven with Manning Publications here, and we’ve just published a new Agile book–Becoming Agile by Greg Smith and Ahmed Sidky. If you’re interested in reviewing it, please shoot me an email at stho at manning dot com. Thanks!


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