Proposed Reading List

A teacher recently told me this: “To know and not to do is not to know.”

We know from many teachers that we learn best by thinking a bit and then practicing some, and then thinking some more and practicing more. This is embedded, as one example, in the Deming Cycle.

So, I have already suggested that the best way to learn for you, right now, might be to practice for a while.  Perhaps a short while.

Next, one needs to say that each of us is different. So, if we want our learning to be effective, we need to consider our individual needs and abilities. Some of us think in concepts, some in pictures, some with stories, etc., etc. Some of us understand (or have no interest in) user stories, for example. Others have pressing needs to understand engineering practices.

Also, now that we have been infected with the Agile virus, we can read almost any book from an Agile viewpoint. “War and Peace” by Tolstoy is one of my personal favorites. This might be the best way for you.

Now, after all these explanations, here are some suggested readings:

(I have these books on my website, with direct links to Amazon, so you might want to go there.)

“User Stories Applied” by Mike Cohn.  Great book on how to write and use User Stories. Once you feel you get the ideas yourself, go to his site www.mountaingoatsoftware.commountaiand download some of the presentations on this subject to use for your discussions with associates.

“Agile Estimating and Planning” by Mike Cohn. Here, he discusses Planning Poker, and lots of other subjects around Release Planning and Iteration Planning. Again, he has very useful presentations on this subject as well.

“The New New Product Development Game” by Takeuchi and Nonaka. This is where Scrum started.  To me, it is essential that we view ourselves as creating new products. Passing this one around starts to get light bulbs turning on.

“Extreme Programming Explained” (2nd Edition) by Kent Beck and Cynthia Andres. Kent Beck, Ron Jeffries and Ward Cunningham are the three guys most responsible for extreme programming. Kent is an excellent writer, and his discussion of values, principles and practices is wonderful. (Be aware that some people prefer the 1st edition (2000), but that is now hard to find.)

“The Knowledge-Creating Company by Nonaka” — This is a HBR article that introduces many of the key concepts in the book (of the same name) by Takeuchi and Nonaka.

“The Concept of Ba” by Nonaka. This is an article that summarizes some of the key concepts that are discussed in the “Hitosubashi on Knowledge Management” book, edited by Takeuchi and Nonaka.

“Fearless Change” by Manns and Rising. This book is about introducing a new idea into any “group” (such as your company). These ladies are actually Agilists, but the book is about introducing any idea (not specifically Agile). The book presents some theory, but more usefully lots of patterns on how to influence various people so that Scrum/Agile/Lean will succeed in your group. The majority of these patterns you know, but the reminders, tips and tricks are very valuable. Arguably, this is the most important book for you right now.

“The Power of a Positive No” by William Ury. Bill co-wrote “Getting To Yes.” This book, about saying no sometimes, is essential. Almost everyone in Agile that I know is not practicing sustainable work because they can’t say “no” enough. Frankly (although Bill is a friend) the title is a little hokey to me, and the basic idea seems obvious (you have to say “no” before any “yes” can have meaning). As you read the book, I think you will learn useful ways to say “no” almost as often as you should. Priorities.

“Working with Legacy Code” by Michael Feathers. This book has lots of ideas about how to deal with legacy systems. Michael is an excellent Agile Coach (a bit more in the XP flavor).

“Lean Thinking” by Womack and Jones. The first chapter of this book is an excellent introduction to Lean.  Some of you will be amused to learn that Ohno, whom many credit with inventing Lean, said that he learned it all from Henry Ford’s book “Today and Tomorrow.”

“Implementing Lean Software Development” by Mary and Tom Poppendieck. Excellent source for taking Lean ideas and applying them to software development. This is their second book.  Not a bad book for you to read first, in fact.

Enjoy on your journey.


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