"Learning Agile: Understanding Scrum, XP, Lean, and Kanban" - Andrew Stellman, Jennifer Greene



Excellent book if you are just starting out down the path of agile. Provides an excellent overview of not only base practices of Scrum, XP, Lean and Kanban, but also offers up the values and principles behind the approaches, and how you can use these tools to address your specific issues.

In particular for me, it was an excellent refresher on these basics (see Values and Principles). The core idea is that if you apply the practices of agile you will probably end up with “better-than-not-doing-it results”, but to really get improvement you have to really understand the principles and values driving the practices (see What Does a Scrum Master Do All Day?)

I thought this was a pretty succinct way of pointing out the differences between these basic approaches:

“Scrum primarily focuses on project management: the scope of the work that will be done, when that work will be delivered, and whether the outcome of that work meets the needs of the users and stakeholders.

The focus of XP is software development. The XP values and practices are built around creating an environment conducive to development, and developing programmer habits that help them design and build code that’s simple and easy to change.

Kanban is about helping a team improve the way that they build software. A team that uses Kanban has a clear picture of what actions they use to build software, how they interact with the rest of the company, where they run into waste caused by inefficiency and unevenness, and how to improve over time by removing the root cause of that waste.”

I especially liked the discussion on emergent architecture. Quoting from Auke Jilderda in response to th question “So, designing for reuse isn’t always a great thing?” Auke says “It’s not really a very suitable approach for software development. What you typically do in open source is that you start by building something for one use first.” The thinking is that if you “design to reuse” you don't usually end up with the simple, “each function does one thing” type approach that something like UNIX exemplifies.

The idea is to leverage emergent design “When a system is designed so that its behavior seems to emerge from the interactions between the individual units working together, in a way that doesn’t seem to originate from one single unit, it’s called emergent design. Systems built using emergent design almost always consist of small, independent, decoupled units (like Unix tools, or ants). Those pieces are combined to perform complex tasks, and the behavior of the system comes as much from the interactions between those units as it does from the individual units themselves.”

“A system built using emergent design can grow for years, while staying maintainable and easy to change.”

Agile is full of boards - workflow, task, value stream etc. I though the discussion on the various types of boards was useful.

“The difference is that value stream mapping is a Lean thinking tool to help you understand the system that you work in; workflow mapping is how the Kanban method determines the actual steps that each work item goes through.” “A typical kanban board only shows those larger work items, not the individual tasks. And while the task board only “sees” the work items when they’re To Do, In Progress, or Done, the kanban board will have a bigger picture.”

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reading_list, 2017/01/20 10:57 (Trackback)
Reading List On-going continuous learning :-). Once you start on Agile there is no end of learning! See Webinars and Videos for video version of this. Current * "Lean Architecture: for Agile Software Development" - James O. Coplien and Gertrud Bjørnvig Hopper * "More Agile Tesing: Learning Journeys for the Whole Team" - Lisa Crispin and Janet Gregory * "Badass Making Users Awesome" - Kathy Sierra * "Driving Fear Out of the Workplace: Creating the High-Trust, High-Performance Organiz…
lean_values_and_principles, 2017/01/20 12:57 (Trackback)
Agile Values and Principles The granddaddy of them all, there is no self-respecting agile book that doesn't reference these in some way. The original is at and is best read there. Following list is maintained for my convenience. Values The Lean Systems Society published its credo at the 2012 Lean Software & Systems Conference. This was based on a set of values published a year earlier. Those values include:
What is the Benefit of Having a Cadence of Meetings Etc? Note: Work in Progress Agile implementations leverage the notion of a cadence all over the place. For example, we have Sprints with regularly scheduled meetings. Cadence really allows us to define events that occur regularly but also specify due dates when things are expected to get done. As a result of this, setting up a cadence offers a lot of benefits:
recommended_reading, 2017/01/20 13:28 (Trackback)
Recommended Reading List of books that I have found useful as I work with people and try to understand how to improve my effectiveness. Additional books (and limited information on them) is at Reading List The Basics Scrum Guide - Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber The definitive source of information on Scrum. Frequently revised and updated based on feedback. The last update included an expanded view of the Scrum Values. Bottom line if you are saying that you do Scrum, and haven't recently r…
books_to_read, 2017/12/12 14:46 (Trackback)
Books To Read Title Author Subject Audience Comments Readability "Accelerate - Building Strategic Agility for a Faster-Moving World" John Kotter Transformation; Change Management Medium "The Rollout: A Novel about Leadership and Building a Lean-Agile Enterprise with SAFe" Alex Yakyma Transformation Management High "Learning Agile: Understanding Scrum, XP, Lean, and Kanban" Andrew Stellman; Jennifer Greene
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