Agile Project Management with Scrum – A Tough Read at Times

I have been reading a book entitled “Agile Project Management with Scrum” by Ken Schwaber. It is an interesting read. The examples and stories that he shares of companies who have struggled with Scrum and those that have succeeded are fantastic. The way Schwaber breaks up the book and explains all the roles then gives example makes it a great learning tool. It is also really funny and clever.

One complaint I have with the book is that it is very technical, it seems that the reader is assumed to have many years of software development experience. It is interesting that the projects that Schwaber discusses that have the most trouble with Scrum are those that are “stuck” in their old ways of working. It’s almost as if the old saying of “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing” is true for Scrum implementations. “Scrum means doing things in small cycles – so I will do everything the same except in shorter cycles.” Anybody ever heard of that type of reasoning?

I definitely recommend this book for those who have considerable experience in the technology field. For those who don’t this book might be challenging at times, espcially with the computer language words that are used.

I want to continually learn for my own personal and professional growth. So I  would like to know which books do you suggest? Are there any books that share examples and stories that are not focused on software development? If you disagree which my review of the book please comment.


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3 thoughts on “Agile Project Management with Scrum – A Tough Read at Times”

  1. Paul – last year (after helping Mishkin with a course), I wrote a magnum opus (ok three posts) on the subject of Agile books (Top Books: http://www.notesfromatooluser.com/2007/11/best-agile-book.html,
    Background: http://www.notesfromatooluser.com/2007/11/best-agile-bo-1.html, Code related: http://www.notesfromatooluser.com/2007/11/best-agile-bo-2.html)

    For your purposes I might consider (don’t be put off by the word Software in the title):
    Agile Software Development: A Cooperative Game (2nd Ed) by Alistair Cockburn (http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html?ie=UTF8&location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2FAgile-Software-Development-Cooperative-Game%2Fdp%2F0321482751%2Fsr%3D8-2%2Fqid%3D1161911982%3Fie%3DUTF8%26s%3Dbooks&tag=notesfromatoo-20&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=9325-) Possibly the most interesting book I’ve ever read about agile software development. It’s not about any one methodology, instead Alistair analyzes game play, individual communication, team cooperation: the elements that are the core of all software development. The book also includes sections on Agile outside of Software, a survey of the various methodologies and much more.

  2. The link for Alistair’s book didn’t work:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html?ie=UTF8&location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2FAgile-Software-Development-Cooperative-Game%2Fdp%2F0321482751%2Fsr%3D8-2%2Fqid%3D1161911982%3Fie%3DUTF8%26s%3Dbooks&tag=notesfromatoo-20&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=9325-

    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.

  3. Paul, I’m not sure any book on Scrum would be appropriate–while it has roots in durable goods development, it’s a process emerged from and for software product development. Can analogies be made and concepts loosely carried over to, say, chores? Sure, but I’d bet high-energy particle physics, taken loosely, has lessons for horse ranching too.

    Anyway, as someone with a little experience in software products, I’d say, if I had to find something to be disappointed with in this book, it’d be that it was too high-level and glossed over many of the tough, detailed aspects of implementing what isn’t, in practice, a simple or easy process, woof’s withstanding. I suspect books like this might serve more to slightly dilute the efficacy of the processes described because they don’t convey the technical or problematic nature of success by process (and so lead to more taking them on than ought.)

    If you want a quick, non-computer oriented read, Scrum’s inspiration is so: “The New New Product Development Game.”

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