There are scores of books professing how to perfect the Agile/Scrum methodology. But there are eight I considered important during my Agile journey.
From my bookshelf, I offer a brief description of how these authors have helped me develop my skills as a Scrum practitioner. I recommend them all.
Some lend themselves very well to the eReader format while others may be better as a held-in-hand book. No matter how you consume your continuing education, you should find each to be enjoyable.
Agile Scrum: Your Quick Start Guide with Step-by-Step Instructions, Scott Graffius
I went looking for a book that I could share with my team that consisted of primary waterfall savvy developers and managers to help transition to the Agile vocabulary. This book has a great approach to linking familiar tasks with how Agile uses that experience to keep them moving forward on with Agile project delivery. This helped the team get over the idea that “everything” they learned before was obsolete and helped get buy-in to the transformation of Agile. I appreciated the no-nonsense approach and creative illustrations. A bonus is that this book continues to be available on Kindle Unlimited, so sharing with the team was easy.
User Stories Applied: For Agile Software Development, Kent Beck
I needed to help my team focus and improve their user story acceptance criteria. I turned to this book and found some great advice on how to make sure they thought through the acceptance criteria before starting to code. Focusing in on this one element was worth the price of the book. The dividends didn’t stop there. Who knows how to estimate user stories? A consistent problem, particularly on transforming or new teams. This helped identify options and provided the needed examples to get the team focused on getting stories “ready” for sprint planning meetings.
User Story Mapping, Jeff Patton
This book was recommended by a colleague and once I bought it, I couldn’t put it down. The concepts and approaches were immediately implemented on my project. I especially appreciated the author’s presenting multiple use cases and approaches that could be used. The story mapping approach is consistent with the Agile fundamentals of breaking down the work and delivering value early and often in small chunks. The visual nature of the story map helped our team keep in mind that we had more work to do than we had time to do it. This allowed the team to realize the importance of prioritizing and layering the software we delivered.
Agile Testing, Lisa Crispin & Janet Gregory
I believe this book delivered what was needed by my Agile team members to integrate their testing role. A ton of real-world experience anecdotes gave me confidence the authors’ have “been there and done that” as they described the hurdles my team was facing. I was able to use some of the examples and apply them to demonstrate the importance of building quality into the product, not waiting until the end, and have independent testing cycles that result in building a product through bug reporting. Although written in 2008, the approaches and advice still ring true. The only downside was its monster size – nearly 600 pages.
More Agile Testing: Learning Journeys for the Whole Team, Janet Gregory & Lisa Crispin
What a great follow-up to their first book on Agile testing. I particularly enjoyed the visual models, and the chapter on visual mapping out the testing effort hit home with me. As a resource book, it’s easy to jump to a particular approach, learn from the masters, and then apply their techniques. I also found the explanations and examples relating to BDD enlightening. The authors obviously did not stop inspecting and adapting their careers as new elements of our industry were explained. Nice to know they value continuous learning and have the time to share their Agile journey with their readers!
Coaching Agile Teams: A Companion for ScrumMasters, Agile Coaches, and Project Managers in Transition, Lyssa Adkins
This book provided valuable insight into the various roles on a team, and offered a perspective on how to effectively coach these roles. I specifically enjoyed the way the author gave how-to tips based on an individual’s background. For instance, the explanations of the challenges a traditional PMP heavy project manager may face while making the transition into an Agile practitioner. The format of the book also lends itself well to jump to a chapter and have a “how-to” session and troubleshoot a particular anti-pattern that is unfolding on your team. I also appreciated the excellent advice and approaches that will apply to all aspects of coaching – whether on an Agile Team or on a little league field. I expect to keep this book close to use as a reference and a guide for all of my engagements both personal and professional.
Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great, Esther Derby & Diana Larsen
The authors of this book have provided a one-stop-shop on how to inspect and adapt. Keeping the retrospective fresh is a consistent problem on most scrum teams. It becomes a chore or you start seeing the robot-retro effect. This book provides real-world approaches that provide techniques I used in every retrospective! If there is a short list of books everyone on a scrum team should read, include this one. The techniques help me in other meetings with stakeholders and during the backlog grooming meetings as well. For instance, the authors’ account of the “prisoners” in a retrospective. I can identify them (and other types such as explorer, shopper, vacationer, etc.) in almost every meeting or presentation in which I’m involved.
Leading the Transformation, Gary Gruver & Tommy Mouser
An excellent book on understanding an organization’s transformation to using Agile and the importance of having DevOps included in the conversation. The authors strike a great balance between the concepts and real-world implementation/outcomes. These authors provided great insight into the importance that Agile transformation is more about organizational change management and less about being a technical problem. This concept is very helpful as OCM projects have different pattern and goals. I appreciated the practical tips on integrating the entire organization in the transformation process.
Hopefully these books are available on your company’s bookshelf, your local library, or through Kindle Unlimited.
Another way they’ve helped me as a Scrum Master: I needed to gain Scrum Education Units (SEU’s) to renew my CSM/CSPO. I recommend using at least some to meet “Category: E – Independent Learning Subtype: Read a Scrum/Agile book.”
I hope you consider adding some of these to your personal improvement backlog!