Leaders of Agile Transformations for the Enterprise need to have good sources of information, concepts and techniques that will guide and assist them. This short list of twelve books (yes, books) is what I consider critical reading for any executive, leader or enterprise change agent. Of course, there are many books that might also belong on this list, so if you have suggestions, please make them in the comments.
I want to be clear about the focus of this list: it is for leaders that need to do a deep and complete change of culture throughout their entire organization. It is not a list for people who want to do Agile pilot projects and maybe eventually lots of people will use Agile. It is about urgency and need, and about a recognition that Agile is better than not-Agile. If you aren’t in that situation, this is not the book list for you.
These books all help you to understand and work with the deeper aspects of corporate behaviour which are rooted in culture. Becoming aware of culture and learning to work with it is probably the most difficult part of any deep transformation in an organization.
The Corporate Culture Survival Guide – Edgar Schein
Beyond the Culture of Contest – Michael Karlburg
The Heart of Change – John Kotter
This set of books gets a bit more specific: it is the “how” of managing and leading in high-change environments. These books all touch on culture in various ways, and build on the ideas in the books about culture. For leaders of an organization, there are dozens of critical, specific, management concepts that often challenge deeply held beliefs and behaviours about the role of management.
Good to Great – Jim Collins
The Leaders’ Guide to Radical Management – Steve Denning
The Mythical Man-Month – Frederick Brooks
Agile at Scale
These books discuss how to get large numbers of people working together effectively. They also start to get a bit technical and definitely assume that you are working in technology or IT. However, they are focused on management, organization and process rather than the technical details of software development. I highly recommend these books even if you have a non-technical background. There will be parts where it may be a bit more difficult to follow along with some examples, but the core concepts will be easily translated into almost any type of work that requires problem-solving and creativity.
Scaling Lean and Agile Development – Bas Vodde, Craig Larman
Scaling Agility – Dean Leffingwell
Lean Software Development – Mary and Tom Poppendieck
These books (including some free online books) are related to some of the key supporting ideas that are part of any good enterprise Agile transformation.
Toyota Talent: Developing Your People the Toyota Way – Jeffrey Liker, David Meier
Agile Retrospectives – Esther Derby
Continuous Delivery – Jez Humble, David Farley
The Scrum Guide – Ken Schwaber, Jeff Sutherland, et. al.
The OpenAgile Primer – Mishkin Berteig, et. al.
Priming Kanban – Jesper Boeg
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