Learning Agile
Understanding Scrum, XP, Lean, and Kanban
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Final Release Date: November 2014
Pages: 420

Learning Agile is a comprehensive guide to the most popular agile methods, written in a light and engaging style that makes it easy for you to learn.

Agile has revolutionized the way teams approach software development, but with dozens of agile methodologies to choose from, the decision to "go agile" can be tricky. This practical book helps you sort it out, first by grounding you in agile’s underlying principles, then by describing four specific—and well-used—agile methods: Scrum, extreme programming (XP), Lean, and Kanban.

Each method focuses on a different area of development, but they all aim to change your team’s mindset—from individuals who simply follow a plan to a cohesive group that makes decisions together. Whether you’re considering agile for the first time, or trying it again, you’ll learn how to choose a method that best fits your team and your company.

  • Understand the purpose behind agile’s core values and principles
  • Learn Scrum’s emphasis on project management, self-organization, and collective commitment
  • Focus on software design and architecture with XP practices such as test-first and pair programming
  • Use Lean thinking to empower your team, eliminate waste, and deliver software fast
  • Learn how Kanban’s practices help you deliver great software by managing flow
  • Adopt agile practices and principles with an agile coach
Table of Contents
Product Details
About the Author
Colophon
Recommended for You
Customer Reviews

REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

by PowerReviews
oreillyLearning Agile
 
4.6

(based on 12 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (10)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (1)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (1)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (0)

91%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Easy to understand (8)
  • Well-written (8)
  • Accurate (7)
  • Helpful examples (7)
  • Concise (3)

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Intermediate (8)
    • Novice (8)
    • Expert (3)
      • Reviewer Profile:
      • Developer (7)

    Reviewed by 12 customers

    Sort by

    Displaying reviews 1-10

    Back to top

    Previous | Next »

     
    5.0

    Extremely practical, well organized

    By Ethan

    from NJ

    About Me Developer, Researcher

    Verified Reviewer

    Pros

    • Easy to understand
    • Helpful examples
    • Well-written

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Intermediate
      • Novice
      • Student

      Comments about oreilly Learning Agile:

      I'm pretty late to Agile practices for software development because writing code is only one aspect of the R&D I do. The first thing I learned in reading this book is that I should have been paying attention to these practices long ago. In some areas I found justification for work methodologies I had developed on my own. In others, I found a better understanding of why I expended too much effort on clever ideas of little lasting value.

      I have found myself unconsciously incorporating concepts from this book into my working thought processes. These have included "last responsible moment", "limiting Works In Progress", "better than not doing it results", "code smells", and deciding whether to switch from being a chicken to pig. Recalling these, and other, ideas from the book is made substantially easier by a good selection of stories to motivate the discussion. The stories are serialized through the relevant chapters and make recalling earlier concepts considerably easier when restarting after a break from reading. More than two months after reading the first chapters, I can quickly reconstruct much of the argument for investing in Agile by recalling the story of the e-reader development.

       
      5.0

      Excellent, insightful, and easy to read

      By Marc Kellner

      from Pittsburgh, PA

      Verified Reviewer

      Pros

      • Accurate
      • Easy to understand
      • Helpful examples
      • Well-written

      Cons

        Best Uses

        • Expert
        • Intermediate
        • Novice

        Comments about oreilly Learning Agile:

        "Learning Agile" is a phenomenal book. It is full of practical, easy-to-follow advice to help anyone on a software team achieve more success and satisfaction on their projects. It's a quick, easy read, full of humor and stories of real software teams. Anyone who's worked with teams in the real world will recognize many of their own past challenges and problems in the "frequently asked questions" throughout the book — along with proven usable solutions. All in all, I highly recommend "Learning Agile" to anyone who wants to improve the way that their teams build software.

        One very important innovation that this book introduces is the idea of "better-than-not-doing-it results." This concept bridges the gap between principles and practices, which is something that has confounded not only Agile practitioners, but many software engineers going back decades. The foreword by Mike Cohn explains why this is so important. Cohn says, "In Learning Agile, Andrew Stellman and Jennifer Greene do the best job I've encountered of stressing the principles of agile without de-emphasizing its practices. They point out that following practices without knowing why is likely to lead only to what they call a 'better-than-not-doing-it' level of success." This idea of better-than-not-doing-it results is a very insightful tool that will benefit anyone who is struggling to put Agile practices in place on their own team.

        My personal area of expertise is software process improvement, which is something I spent many years concentrating on at the Software Engineering Institute. "Learning Agile" does an excellent job of covering practical process improvement via Agile, with an entire section of the Kanban chapter called "Improving Your Process with Kanban." And here again, the book does an excellent job of bridging principles and practices, showing how the values of Lean drive the practices of Kanban to create a culture of continuous improvement and drive the process improvement effort.

        Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book (in Ebook form) from O'Reilly along with a request to provide my honest feedback. Previously, I was a technical reviewer for "Applied Software Project Management" by the same authors.

        Summary: Highly recommended for all team members at any skill level.

        — Marc I. Kellner, Ph.D.

        (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

         
        5.0

        Excellent, insightful, and easy to read

        By Marc Kellner

        from Pittsburgh, PA

        Verified Reviewer

        Pros

        • Accurate
        • Easy to understand
        • Helpful examples
        • Well-written

        Cons

          Best Uses

          • Expert
          • Intermediate
          • Novice

          Comments about oreilly Learning Agile:

          "Learning Agile" is a phenomenal book. It is full of practical, easy-to-follow advice to help anyone on a software team achieve more success and satisfaction on their projects. It's a quick, easy read, full of humor and stories of real software teams. Anyone who's worked with teams in the real world will recognize many of their own past challenges and problems in the "frequently asked questions" throughout the book — along with proven usable solutions. All in all, I highly recommend "Learning Agile" to anyone who wants to improve the way that their teams build software.

          One very important innovation that this book introduces is the idea of "better-than-not-doing-it results." This concept bridges the gap between principles and practices, which is something that has confounded not only Agile practitioners, but many software engineers going back decades. The foreword by Mike Cohn explains why this is so important. Cohn says, "In Learning Agile, Andrew Stellman and Jennifer Greene do the best job I've encountered of stressing the principles of agile without de-emphasizing its practices. They point out that following practices without knowing why is likely to lead only to what they call a 'better-than-not-doing-it' level of success." This idea of better-than-not-doing-it results is a very insightful tool that will benefit anyone who is struggling to put Agile practices in place on their own team.

          My personal area of expertise is software process improvement, which is something I spent many years concentrating on at the Software Engineering Institute. "Learning Agile" does an excellent job of covering practical process improvement via Agile, with an entire section of the Kanban chapter called "Improving Your Process with Kanban." And here again, the book does an excellent job of bridging principles and practices, showing how the values of Lean drive the practices of Kanban to create a culture of continuous improvement and drive the process improvement effort.

          Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book (in Ebook form) from O'Reilly along with a request to provide my honest feedback. Previously, I was a technical reviewer for "Applied Software Project Management" by the same authors.

          Summary: Highly recommended for all team members at any skill level.

          — Marc I. Kellner, Ph.D.

          (4 of 11 customers found this review helpful)

           
          2.0

          Nothing new or insightful

          By Agilista

          from San Jose, CA

          Verified Reviewer

          Pros

          • Well-written

          Cons

          • Poor Generalizations
          • Poor Inferences
          • Too Shallow

          Best Uses

            Comments about oreilly Learning Agile:

            Although this book does a decent job of introducing and aggregating basic Agile, Scrum and XP concepts, it delivers nothing that you cannot get from books and papers written a decade ago. Also, it misses the essence of Lean, and misses the mark about how Kanban is used to drive improvement.

            (6 of 6 customers found this review helpful)

             
            5.0

            Very Useful, Even for Experienced Devs

            By Eric Renkey

            from Pittsburgh, PA

            About Me Developer

            Verified Reviewer

            Pros

            • Accurate
            • Concise
            • Easy to understand
            • Eclectic
            • Helpful examples
            • Practical
            • Well-written

            Cons

              Best Uses

              • Expert
              • Intermediate
              • Novice

              Comments about oreilly Learning Agile:

              Given that I've been familiar with Agile for at least 12-13 years and with Lean for nearly twice that long, I didn't expect that an introductory-level book would have a great deal to offer me except, maybe, a refresher course. However, a number of the tools & techniques used in the book provide significant benefit even if you're already familiar with the material:

              * Narratives, which do an excellent job of illustrating real-world software development problems and practical means of addressing them.

              * The idea of "Better-Than-Not-Doing-It" results, which explains why many Agile implementations plateau after a short time. This is an elegant model that succinctly explains many sub-optimal process improvement efforts that I've observed over the years.

              * Comparative methodology. Having a single resource that objectively compares and contrasts various Agile methodologies or "schools of thought" is very valuable. Reading about each approach back-to-back reinforces the common principles in a way that high-level overviews or single-methodology books rarely do.

              I also believe that the book will serve the beginner audience well because it's very well-organized and provides many references to additional learning resources. However, with my exposure to the material before reading, I can't state that opinion with 100% certainty.

              Similar to the authors' other books that I've read -- "Applied Software Project Management", "Head First C#", and "Beautiful Teams" -- "Learning Agile" is eclectic and has a practical, hands-on focus. Personally, I prefer that approach, especially when it integrates principles and lessons learned from such diverse subjects as the Toyota Production System, the Unix toolset, martial arts, and basketball (via the teachings of John Wooden). The authors even stress that a waterfall process CAN work, given the right conditions, which is rare for Agile-focused material. However, the eclectic/practical approach results in a tome that's probably not particularly well-suited for use as certification prep.

              The book takes roughly 8-10 hours to read. I recommend that you read topically-related chapters -- 2/3 (Agile values/principles), 4/5 (Scrum), 6/7 (XP), and 8/9 (Lean/Kanban) -- in the same sitting, or with as little time elapsed between readings as you can manage. The chapter pairs share Narratives, and the second chapter per pair builds upon ideas introduced in the previous chapter. All of the chapters reference and reinforce ideas that were introduced earlier in the book. This is partly because of the book's thematic cohesion and partly the result of a deliberate strategy for improving reading comprehension.

              Some suggestions that I think would add value to a future edition, if there is one:

              * Further discussion of situations in which Agile isn't a great fit, preferably using Alistair Cockburn's Project Classification Scale [Defect Criticality x Team Size] for determining the process formality requirements of a project.

              * More extensive coverage of the types of waste found in software development, bringing in wider-ranging ideas about wastefulness from Lean and other topics like the Unix philosophy, such as: unused employee creativity, over-design / over-specification, & solving the wrong problem the "Right" way.

              Disclosure: I was provided with a free review eBook in exchange for my honest feedback. Previously, I was a technical reviewer for "Applied Software Project Management" and co-authored a chapter for "Beautiful Teams" (by the same authors). Also, more than a decade ago, I was a coworker of Andrew Stellman's for approximately a year.

              (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

               
              5.0

              Comprehensive and detailed!

              By Ben

              from Brisbane, Australia

              About Me Developer

              Verified Buyer

              Pros

              • Accurate
              • Comprehensive
              • Detailed
              • Easy to understand
              • Well-researched
              • Well-written

              Cons

              • Can Be A Little Wordy
              • Long - Very Detailed

              Best Uses

              • Intermediate
              • Multi-discipline Teams
              • Novice
              • Team Projects

              Comments about oreilly Learning Agile:

              My workplace is transitioning to an Agile approach and this book is exactly what I needed to understand how my team and I should work together. It covers the major methodologies that we are adhering to and offers great insight across most project disciplines.

              Being a comprehensive, highly detailed look at Agile it can be wordy - both a positive and a negative. An excellent book that offers the most value if you're trying to decide which methodology or practices best suit your team and how to implement them. Although other books will offer better focus on specific practices to supplement the information in "Learning Agile", it is still useful if you need information on how to get the most out of a team for an existing methodology.

              (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

               
              5.0

              by the far, the best use of stories to t

              By Jeanne Boyarsky

              from New York, NY

              About Me Developer

              Verified Reviewer

              Pros

              • Accurate
              • Easy to understand
              • Helpful examples

              Cons

                Best Uses

                • Intermediate
                • Novice

                Comments about oreilly Learning Agile:

                "Learning Agile" was an awesome book. It introduces Scrum, XP, lean and kanban nicely with good examples an narratives. This was not your serious "animal series" O'Reilly book. In addition to numerous cartoons and diagrams, I even spotted a Head First style image and two xkcd comics.

                What's called Chapter 1 introduces agile followed by what would traditionally be the introduction.Interesting seeing those two reversed. It works though as it shows the points of view of different readers. I like how each chapter ends with FAQs, exercises you can today and ideas to learn more. The key point boxes sprinkled through each chapter were helpful as well.

                I'm particularly impressed with how they handled the names of characters in Chapter 2. When I saw the characters introduced I groaned thinking it was one of those books where I would have to keep track of who these people are. But there was enough context for it to be obvious. And when they referred to them at the end of the chapter, their titles were restated. The authors even told us at the end of the story that we wouldn't be seeing them again. After that, I trusted that the narratives would be easy to follows and wasn't disappointed.

                I liked the phrases "better-than-not-doing-it" and "magical thinking". For me, the test of an agile or process book is whether I finish with ideas of new things to try. And I do.

                ---
                Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for writing this review on behalf of CodeRanch.

                (5 of 5 customers found this review helpful)

                 
                5.0

                How NOT to keep doing it the hard way

                By Mark Denovich

                from Pittsburgh, PA

                Verified Reviewer

                Pros

                • Accurate
                • Concise
                • Easy to understand
                • Helpful examples
                • Well-written

                Cons

                  Best Uses

                  • Expert
                  • Intermediate
                  • Novice
                  • Student

                  Comments about oreilly Learning Agile:

                  This is by far the best resource I've found for gaining a deep understanding of Agile methodologies. I first learned about Agile years ago, and immediately saw its promise. But I found that learning about Agile was the easy part. Getting your organization to understand and embrace Agile is the hard part. This is where Stellman and Greene's book is exceptional. Their many examples, anecdotes and first hand experience take you beyond the theory and will help you put that theory into practice. Pay particular attention to the examples which highlight potential pitfalls that will sabotage your efforts. I can say from experience that they are very relevant. I would avoided considerable heartache if this this book had been written sooner.

                  (5 of 6 customers found this review helpful)

                   
                  5.0

                  A great introduction to Agile

                  By Adam R

                  from New York, NY

                  About Me Architect, Developer

                  Verified Reviewer

                  Pros

                  • Accurate
                  • Easy to understand
                  • Friendly
                  • Helpful examples
                  • Well-written

                  Cons

                    Best Uses

                    • Intermediate
                    • Novice

                    Comments about oreilly Learning Agile:

                    Andrew Stellman and Jennifer Greene have been there, seen that, bought the T-Shirt, and now written the book! This is a truly fantastic introduction to the major Agile methodologies for software professionals of all levels and disciplines. It will help you understand the common pitfalls faced by development teams, and learn how to avoid them. The writing style is straightforward and approachable, and their advice is justified with copious examples of situations which will be familiar to many of us. Highly recommended even if you think you already practice Agile.

                    Disclaimer - I was asked to review an early version of this book.

                    (3 of 6 customers found this review helpful)

                     
                    4.0

                    The spirit of Agile very well explained

                    By monkeyfish

                    from Toronto, Canada

                    About Me Designer, Developer, Project manager

                    Verified Buyer

                    Pros

                    • Accurate
                    • Concise
                    • Easy to understand
                    • Well-written

                    Cons

                      Best Uses

                        Comments about oreilly Learning Agile:

                        I bought the early release "raw" version of this book as a digital download before it was published.

                        Although I am no stranger to traditional project management, I wanted to get a full grasp of Agile and its benefits.

                        After researching all I could online, I turned to this book to help fill in the blanks, and boy did it ever.

                        This was an extremely helpful book in putting the Agile world into perspective for me. I was particularly impressed by the fact that it went a long way to show that Agile is an approach and way of thinking more than blindly executed methodologies.

                        Thumbs up!

                        Displaying reviews 1-10

                        Back to top

                        Previous | Next »

                         
                        Buy 2 Get 1 Free Free Shipping Guarantee
                        Buying Options
                        Immediate Access - Go Digital what's this?
                        Ebook: $35.99
                        Formats:  DAISY, ePub, Mobi, PDF
                        Print & Ebook: $49.49
                        Print: $44.99