Dominik Berner

C++ Coder, Agilist, Rock Climber

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The Seven Must Reads For The Aspiring Agilist

Over the course of the last few years I read a lot of books about agile principles and teamwork and there are some that stood out to me as particularly worth to read. Most of the books are rather about agile teamwork in general than any particular methodology such as scrum or kanban. These books are also starting point on the way to knowing and doing agile, so the list is obviously by no means complete.

Book #1: Scrum and XP from the Trenches (Henrik Kniberg) - For developers who want to do agile

So you’re a developer that knows about the basic agile principles, and maybe even know about scrum, XP or kanban but you struggle to implement agile development at the lowest level? Scrum and XP from the Trenches is the book for you. Lots of hands-on examples and hints on how to actually do agile as a developer. Plus it is freely available in digital form.

Book #2: Agile Product Management with Scrum: Creating Products that Customers Love (Roman Pichler) - For product managers and product owners who want to run agile projects

You think understanding agile from a developers perspective is hard? Try doing it from the even less clearly defined role of a product owner. I consider this book the one reference for the definition about the tasks and challenges of a product owner. The only drawback that I see, is that it might display product ownership as a too easy.

Book #3: Agile Estimating and Planning (Mike Cohn) - For POs and developers who want to get good ad short-, mid- and long-term estimating

Doing scrum is easy, until somebody wants to see the numbers and predictions. Agile Estimating and Planning gives you a throughout understanding of an agile planning process and good set of tools to scale planning from individual story estimating up to road-map planning spanning multiple months or even years.

Book #4: Team Geek: A Software Developers Guide to working well with others (Brian W. Fitzpatrick and Ben Collins-Sussman) - For coders (or other engineers) who want to work successfully with other engineers

Modern software development is no longer an occupation for loners, but a team sport. Unfortunately this is still not what is anchored in many a brain and even education in software engineering tends to lean more towards technical excellence than to delivering as a team. Team geek is an amusingly written guide about the benefits of a software-engineering hive mind in comparison to the lone wolf mentality.

Book #4: Managing the unmanageable: Rules, Tools, and Insights for Managing Software People and Teams (Mickey W. Mantle and Ron Lichty) - For lead developers, line managers and others that need to steer software developers as a team

Software geeks are hard to control and so are agile teams. Software development is a creative business where many people with crazy ideas and many different ways of working come together. Forming a bunch of ego-driven coders into a cohesive team is a challenge and managing the unmanageable helps you to do exactly that.

Book #6: Difficult Conversation: How To Discuss What Matters Most (Douglas Stone and Bruce Patton) - For people who need to solve conflicts in a straightforward manner

It’s not all sunshine and flowers in a team, prepare for these tough 1:1 moments by reading and learning from “difficult conversations”. While it does not take the anxiety away when facing a difficult conversation, this book helps to spin any conversation into a constructive direction.

Book #7: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable (Patrick Lencioni) - For people who want to fix dysfunctional teams

You got the tools, you got the people, but still the team doesn’t click? The Five Dysfunctions of a Team tells a tale of how to create a team out of an ego-driven group of high-performance people. A nice read that is enriched with some background theory about team-building and team performance.

That’s it, now go reading!

Written on December 7, 2015