This is the second part of my Best Agile Books in 2007 Edition. This post will considerably lighter on notes than its predecessor because I’m tired and under the weather.
Corporate Culture Survival Guide by Edgar H. Schein – an insightful book that looks at the corporate culture and how it forms. In the second half it examines how to coax change out of an organization. Think of it as Fearless Change: Patterns for Introducing New Ideas for corporations. Added bonus its short and to the point.
Peopleware (2nd Ed) by Tom Demarco and Timothy Lister – A pre Agile classic on how development (and other) succeed and fail. They start by demonstrating most project failures are people and not technology related. They go on to help you organize and build better teams. Sadly this book has been in print for twenty years and we’re still making the same mistakes.
“The Wisdom of Teams” by Jon Katzenbach and Douglas Smith – Another pre Agile book Katzenbach and Smith study real teams in many industries providing some real analysis and rigour to the question of what made these teams successful. By the end of the book you will discover that “Nothing can guarantee the creation of high performance teams. The best you can do is put in place the conditions that will help them form.” This book was at the core of my series Why Scrum Works.
Influence, Science and Practice by Robert Cildani – You probably read this in an undergraduate psych course. Consider going back to read it again. This classic work covers how and why people are influenced. This is at play as our teams organize themselves and also as we try to influence others to try our new ideas. It’s only one of the few books in recent years that I’ve read a second time and taken notes from. (The other being Jean’s Collaboration Explained).
Do It Tomorrow by Mark Forester – Personal productivity guide. He explains why closed lists (effectively a Sprint Backlog) work so well. He’s helped me become far more productive just by forcing me to map out what I will achieve after the daily scrum and then taking on nothing more during the day (except for issues raised by the team). Crises from outside the team will often resolve themselves without your intervention. There is a lot of other good ideas to be mined here.
Getting Things Done by David Allen – the other great personal productivity. David’s focus is on emptying your brain so that you can focus on what’s important and not on the milk you promised you would pick up on the way home from work.
Half Truths and Dangerous Lies by Robert Sutton and Jeffery Pfeffer – A simple read on evidence based management. Many common rules of management are no more than myths passed down from generation to generation. They debunk pay for performance, forced ranking (employees are sorted in three buckets: top 20%, middle 70% and low 10%) and many other best practices. It’s great if somewhat depressing read – after all most of us work for employers who subscribe to one or more these myths.
The No Asshole Rule by Robert Sutton – Are you an Asshole in the workplace? Do you know one? Bob will help you discover whether you are one (and self correct), survive them and document the damage they cause. My asshole test score can be found in this post from earlier in the year.
As I look back on this batch of books I can say that these were easily the most fun of the batch to read. I’ve got one more post on Code coming in and then I will return to The Year of Scrum: Lessons Learned.
What are your favorite Agile Books?
Caveat Emptor – if you buy any of the books after clicking on my link I get 4% of the price. In all likelihood that means I might be able to afford a coffee or two.