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Collaboration Explained: Facilitation Skills for Software Project Leaders Paperback – January 16, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0321268778 ISBN-10: 0321268776 Edition: 1st

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Collaboration Explained: Facilitation Skills for Software Project Leaders + Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great + Coaching Agile Teams: A Companion for ScrumMasters, Agile Coaches, and Project Managers in Transition (Addison-Wesley Signature Series (Cohn))
Price for all three: $104.49

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 456 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 1 edition (January 16, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0321268776
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321268778
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #258,315 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

<>“Collaboration Explained is a deeply pragmatic book that helps agile practitioners understand and manage complex organizational and team dynamics. As an agile coach, I’ve found the combination of straightforward advice and colorful anecdotes to be invaluable in guiding and focusing interactions with my teams. Jean’s wealth of experience is conveyed in a carefully struck balance of reference guides and prose, facilitating just-in-time learning in the agile spirit. All in all, a superb resource for building stronger teams that’s fit for agile veterans and neophytes alike.”

–Arlen Bankston, Lean Agile Practice Manager, CC Pace


“If Agile is the new ‘what,’ then surely Collaboration is the new ‘how.’ There are many things I really like about Jean’s new book. Right at the top of the list is that I don’t have to make lists of ideas for collaboration and facilitation anymore. Jean has it all. Not only does she have those great ideas for meetings, retrospectives, and team decision-making that I need to remember, but the startling new and thought-provoking ideas are there too. And the stories, the stories, the stories! The best way to transfer wisdom. Thanks, Jean!”

–Linda Rising, Independent Consultant


The Hands-On Guide to Effective Collaboration in Agile Projects


To succeed, an agile project demands outstanding collaboration among all its stakeholders. But great collaboration doesn’t happen by itself; it must be carefully planned and facilitated throughout the entire project lifecycle. Collaboration Explained is the first book to bring together proven, start-to-finish techniques for ensuring effective collaboration in any agile software project.


Since the early days of the agile movement, Jean Tabaka has been studying and promoting collaboration in agile environments. Drawing on her unsurpassed experience, she offers clear guidelines and easy-to-use collaboration templates for every significant project event: from iteration and release planning, through project chartering, all the way through post-project retrospectives.


Tabaka’s hands-on techniques are applicable to every leading agile methodology, from Extreme Programming and Scrum to Crystal Clear. Above all, they are practical: grounded in a powerful understanding of the technical, business, and human challenges you face as a project manager or development team member.


·   Build collaborative software development cultures, leaders, and teams

·   Prepare yourself to collaborate–and prepare your team

·   Define clear roles for each participant in promoting collaboration

·   Set your collaborative agenda

·   Master tools for organizing collaboration more efficiently

·   Run effective collaborative meetings–including brainstorming sessions

·   Promote better small-group and pair-programming collaboration

·   Get better information, and use it to make better decisions

·   Use non-abusive conflict to drive positive outcomes

·   Collaborate to estimate projects and schedules more accurately

·   Strengthen collaboration across distributed, virtual teams

·   Extend collaboration from individual projects to the entire development organization

© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Jean Tabaka is an Agile Coach with Rally Software Development, specializing in creating, coaching, and mentoring collaborative, agile software teams. Jean brings over 25 years of experience in software development to the agile plate in a variety of organizational contexts including internal IT departments, ISVs, government agencies, and consulting organizations. Having implemented both plan-driven and agile development approaches for Sybase, Siebel Systems, and Qwest, as well as a variety of smaller ventures, her work has spanned industries and continents. As an agile mentor, Jean coaches software teams through training and facilitation to adopt agile principles and practices using a hybrid of the leading agile methods. With a passion for collaboration practices through facilitation techniques, she guides organizations in creating high-performance teams. She is the co-author of Physical Database Design for Sybase SQL Server (Prentice Hall, 1995) and is a frequent lecturer and contributor on the topic of collaboration practices in agile teams. A Certified ScrumMaster, as well as Certified ScrumMaster Trainer, and Certified Professional Facilitator, she holds a Master of Arts from Michigan State University and a Master of Computer Science from Johns Hopkins University.


© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 11 customer reviews
It is full of real-world examples and specific techniques.
Avid Reader Man
I found Jean's book to provide a good introduction into team dynamics and fostering collaborative, self-empowered teams.
Nicholas Cancelliere
This book is well-placed in a series devoted to agile software development.
Michael Cohn

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Michael Cohn on March 21, 2006
Format: Paperback
A challenge faced by any project leader is how to lead the team without resorting to a command-and-control management style. This book's essential premise is that the project leader can do this by fostering collaboration among team members. Jean Tabaka's Collaboration Explained is really two books in one. The first explains the benefits of collaborating and why project leaders need to foster collaboration among their teams if those teams are to perform at a high level.

The second, and by far longest, part of Collaboration Explained is a compendium of techniques that will foster team collaboration and will help the reader become a more collaborative leader. Any reader will finish this part having learned new techniques. Nominally this book is about team decision making and so most of the book is about the various decisions teams make and how the project leader can ensure that the team makes the best decision. Covered are decisions about project requirements, estimates, priorities, vision, resolving conflict and more. Tabaka provides both general purpose advice that can be used in many contexts as well as very specific advice for each of the contexts or meetings she describes.

This book is well-placed in a series devoted to agile software development. However, it is important to point out that the techniques covered here will be applicable to any team with any development process. Any project leader who wants to help his or her team work better together will benefit from reading this book.
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Format: Paperback
Tabaka's book is part of an ongoing series on the use of the Agile software development process. It deals with a key idea of involving participants to the fullest extent. The word collaboration is used to describe this idea. The book is directed at someone who has to manage this process. Someone in a supervisory capacity. Though of course the book could be usefully read by anyone else involved.

The book has many suggestions. About such tasks as conducting status meetings during the project. Or how to distinguish between a good meeting and a bad meeting. Or supervising small group work. The advice is entirely about the human element. And not about any specific software tools or languages. If you are a supervisor from a programming background, it could be the human element aspects that you are most in need of advice about.

Naturally, the text also has numerous instances of how to deal with what it calls Agile Practices. Yet you might not need to adhere to the latter to still derive gain from the book. There is no need to buy into some or indeed any of the Agile Practices. Much of the book has useful advice (like the example above of the good and bad meetings) that is germane to whatever overarching development process you already have in place. Er, you do have one in place, don't you?
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Brent Barton on April 6, 2006
Format: Paperback
Jean Tabaka has done a great service to Software Development. The highest cost meetings where everyone is attendance can be at least twice as valuable when well run and Jean gives us some great guides to make these fruitful. This is especially true with Agile methods that recommends frequent time-boxed meetings to evaluate plans, inspect them and adapt to the changing conditions our fast-paced environments introduce. I have adopted many ideas and have found them very useful. Finally, this kind of skill is what many technically trained people need most for creating a truly collaborative environment.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Crispin on February 14, 2006
Format: Paperback
I'm not a manager or project leader or ScrumMaster, I'm just a tester on a development team using Scrum. So I started reading it with a little trepidation that it wouldn't really apply to my day-to-day work, or that I wouldn't really be able to learn the facilitation skills.

The book really opened my eyes to the fact that my team needs to collaborate with our business folks a whole lot more. It's something we know intellectually, but don't effectively do on a day-to-day basis. Ideas from the book are helping me change this. I'm also learning to be more effective in any kind of meeting, even if I'm not leading it. The book is full of examples from the author's personal experience. I learn best by examples, so this really helped me and got me charged up about the whole thing.

There's a great reference section where you can look up whatever meeting you need to plan and get a wealth of ideas. I'm looking forward to trying some of these out in our next sprint review! If you have any difficulties communicating with those inside or outside your team, or meetings are driving you crazy, you're going to find a gold mine in this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By D. Donovan, Editor/Sr. Reviewer on April 13, 2006
Format: Paperback
Jean Tabaka's COLLABORATION EXPLAINED: FACILITATION SKILLS FOR SOFTWARE PROJECT LEADERS tells how to build an agile project which fosters techniques for ensuring effective collaboration. Jean Tabaka has been studying and using agile environments since its early days: her guidelines and templates for project events cover all areas and aspects of methodology and application, applying concepts to business practices and special circumstances project managers face with their development teams. A recommended, real-world project pick.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Phillip Cave on September 24, 2008
Format: Paperback
Having had the pleasure of seeing Jean in action at a CSM class years ago and having read her book I can tell you that she is passionate about helping teams succeed. I was given a copy of the book when it was first published and it was easy to see Jean's passion play out in the book. I have used this book over the past couple of years to help me better coach teams and traditional PMs make the transition to an Agile execution model. In my mind this book should be part of every Lean/Agile consultant's/coach's toolbox.
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