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Adaptive Software Development: A Collaborative Approach to Managing Complex Systems Paperback – December 1, 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Dorset House (December 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0932633404
  • ISBN-13: 978-0932633408
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 7.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,098,376 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Highsmith's book has been highly praised in many circles and deservedly so." -- Dwayne Phillips

"I am sure the software soldiers and their commanders operating in turbulent times stand to gain from this book." -- Deependra Moitra, IEEE Software

"This is very likely the best book about software process that you will ever read. " -- Scott Ambler, Ambysoft

More About the Author

Jim Highsmith is an executive consultant at ThoughtWorks, Inc. He has 30-plus years experience as an IT manager, product manager, project manager, consultant, and software developer.

Jim is the author of Agile Project Management: Creating Innovative Products (Addison Wesley, 2004); Adaptive Software Development: A Collaborative Approach to Managing Complex Systems (Dorset House, 2000; winner of the prestigious Jolt Award), and Agile Software Development Ecosystems (Addison Wesley, 2002). Jim is the recipient of the 2005 international Stevens Award for outstanding contributions to systems development.

Jim is a coauthor of the Agile Manifesto, a founding member of The Agile Alliance, coauthor of the Declaration of Interdependence for project leaders, and cofounder and first president of the Agile Leadership Network. He has consulted with IT and product development organizations and software companies in the United States, Europe, Canada, South Africa, Australia, China, Japan, India, and New Zealand.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Elaine May on February 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
I have worked at a Fortune 100 company for > 15 years as a software engineer, software manager, and consultant on improving software projects. During that time, I've read many texts on software engineering and software management. This book, more than any other I've read, best captures my philosophy of software management, except for the rants against software process and the SEI which I think are a little much at times. Really, what the author advocates (at least in my reading of this book) is a sensible balance -- not too much process nor too little. This book, along with Rapid Development, are my two favorite "handbooks" for software managers. If you're looking for a quick recipe that doesn't require thought and is guaranteed to be successful, you won't find it here. However, I'd argue that you won't find it anywhere. What you will find is a guide to developing your own "common sense" on software management.
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Format: Paperback
There are many areas of human endeavor that can be used as an analogy for software development. In this book, the author uses mountain climbing to illustrate his points about teamwork, planning and adaptation to rapidly changing conditions. The points are well-taken, although he does stretch it a bit. If the team doesn't function well or a judgment error is committed while climbing, there is the real and immediate threat of injury or death. Similar problems in software development lead to much gentler consequences that are sometimes years in the future. One does not easily change teams in the middle of a climb and developers often have several golden ropes to clutch if it is necessary to leave. Nevertheless, the comparison is largely a good one.
The most significant point is about how software development must be a process of aggressive, rapid adaptation to changing conditions. Among all the things that we do, software construction changes faster than anything else. The solution is to perform the delicate act of balancing on the head of a pin. On one side, there is the necessity of setting down standards of rigor that will keep the process within acceptable boundaries. However, the addition of too much rigor and the mortis sets in, making it too difficult to change the product when the inevitable modifications are needed. Many such strategies for how to maintain this minuscule middle are set forward. There are many points of sound advice in this book, several of which lead to the following simple adage. "Rules can be barriers to hide behind or guidelines for the wise to consider and break when the circumstances justify it." Effectively executing the latter is the not so secret plan for success in the current IT world of dynamic competition.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
Highsmith postulates: "If the core of our belief system about managing organizations is rooted in the old science of deterministic Newtonian physics and survival-of-the-fittest Darwinian biology, then only a new science such as complex adaptive systems with an equally powerful philosophy and scientific foundation provides the credibility necessary for a major management cultural evolution."
He then persuasively uses the science and language of complex adaptive system theory to provide new conceptual models to guide complex software development projects. His presentation is refreshingly well thought out, synthesizing much of the best ideas in science and business management in the past decade to software development.
Highsmith succeeds is providing a theoretical basis for the Agile methodologies that are sprouting up everywhere (XP being the best known).
If you are looking for specific best practices of software development, look elsewhere. But if you want to understand the true nature of software development as well as principles in harnessing change as a competitive advantage, you will not find a better book. I couldn't recommend it any more strongly.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Vince Kenyon on March 15, 2003
Format: Paperback
Compelling case for Adaptive Software Development (ASD), an approach enabling successful completion of complex software development projects. Draws on the theory of complex adaptive systems (CAS). Explains using judicious analogies with mountain climbing. Assembles ideas from the author's own extensive experience and readings. Describes in some detail the ideas of other authors that have influenced ASD. Excellent annotated bibliography allows the reader to pursue further study in any of a number of different directions.
It's hard to express just how good this book is. I can't recommend it highly enough. If you're interested in the currents of thought on software development variously labeled "extreme" or "agile," then I believe you will find Adaptive Software Development to be very near to their sources.
The author distinguishes a "complex" project from one that is merely "complicated." As one might well imagine, he would classify a project to develop the avionics software for the NASA space shuttle as complicated--but not complex: its goal is well defined and attainable by applying the stable laws of Newtonian physics. Development of an internet-based product for the consumer marketplace on the other hand is complex because one might expect almost anything to change during the course of such a project: target technology, competitive offerings, financing, marketing strategy, etc.
Complexity arises from moving fast in a continually changing environment.
Adaptive Software Development comprises
(1) Adaptive Conceptual Model--the theoretical foundation,
(2) Adaptive Development Model--a software development lifecycle for complex projects, and
(3) Adaptive Management Model--principles for managing complex projects.
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