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Liftoff: Launching Agile Teams & Projects Paperback – October 31, 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 170 pages
  • Publisher: Onyx Neon Press (October 31, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 097792016X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0977920167
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #796,632 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bas Vodde on September 19, 2013
Format: Paperback
Liftoff is a wonderful little book that probably isn't getting enough attention. Regrettable. The authors Diana Larsen and Ainsley Nies are skilled facilitators and coaches and they got to write a book about starting agile teams or projects. Diana Larsen is known for her excellent Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great and Liftoff is similar in its concreteness. It is one of these books that, as a facilitator, you take with you and browse and at times simply copy to experiment with the ideas in it.

Probably one reason the book is not getting the attention is deserves (as far as I can see) is its title. The authors chose to use the term "liftoff" which is a new term over more descriptive titles such as "starting agile teams" or "agile chartering". They seem to have done so to not limit the scope and try to include all kind of kick-offs in the book. Personally, I think a bit more focus would have improved the book. Personally I think it should have been called "agile chartering" as more than half of the book is about that. Anyways, liftoff it is :)

The book consists of 2 parts and a bunch of appendixes. The first part is about Liftoffs in general and the second part about Agile chartering. The first part contains five chapters which describe what a liftoff is, what kind of liftoffs there are and how to plan, design and improve using liftoffs to launch teams.

The second part is about chartering. The authors define the PAC model, which stands for Purpose, Alignment, and Context. These are the parts that need to be clarified during the Agile Chartering session and each of these has its own chapter.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Robert L. Galen on May 11, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I see it all the time in my agile coaching. Teams who, in their effort to be agile and get going, start sprinting/iterating too soon--before they know where they're going. It feels good to be moving, developing working software--so often this is the attraction. It's an intoxicating combination of feel good forward progress on the part of the team and leadership.

But more times than not, the team started too soon. They're building software but they haven't connected it towards the customers higher level problems & needs--so they're not delivering the value the customer desperately needs. Nor can they communicate what they'll deliver for a "release" and when.

They should have listened to Stephen Covey - about "Beginning with the End in Mind".

And they should have read this book. Diana and Ainsley have written what I think is the seminal work on how to properly START agile projects. They put a focus on the front of the line that is necessary and welcome.

Should every agile project perform a Liftoff? Probably not. But for the vast majority that should...this is the guide for how to get your goals established and feet underneath you before you start iterating towards delivery. How to charter to connect the team to the business and have a clarity around expectations.

And it's effective as a project recovery mechanism as well, for when you've started too soon but realize that fact and want to realign your efforts. So new liftoffs and recovery liftoffs are covered.

For me, if you're an agile coach, product owner, scrum master or literally anyone who is charged with starting agile projects, this book is a must read. And if you're a traditional project manager who is familiar with the notion of Project Charters, then this book will help map that knowledge to agile contexts. Either way, let's start Beginning with the End in Mind.

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ellen Gottesdiener on January 22, 2012
Format: Paperback
Diana Larsen and Ainsley Nies' Liftoff is destined to be vital book for any team -- agile and otherwise -- that values collaboration and starting smart. Diana and Ainsley reach into their vast store of experience and wisdom to share essential practices to launch teams through agile chartering. They explain how to plan, design and facilitate activities for these critical chartering elements: purpose, alignment, and context. Diana and Ainsley explain the "what"s and "why"s, sprinkled with useful stories to underscore the rationale for this important work. Liftoff will raise your awareness of--and appreciation for--the simple yet profound imperative to launch teams so they truly ascend to great work and joyful collaborations.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 23, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is probably the only book on lifting off projects that recognizes the amazing amount of work required to spin off a project. The most important aspect of agile charter is that it is living and ongoing agile chartering for the duration of the project.
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The most important things are often the hardest to explain well. Getting started as an agile team sounds deceptively simple. There are lots of articles and other materials that emphasize how simple the practices are. While this is true, real behavior change is not easy. Diana and Ainsley do a great job of breaking out the elements of starting - e.g. Discovery has 3 parts: product discovery, process discovery, team discovery - and they then walk you through a description of how this is done for a real team. That's just one small example, of a part of the liftoff activity.

In chapter 7, on Chartering, the description of their 2-part process is totally on-target:

"For years I have used a simple two-part framework to get a team formed and quickly engaged in productive work. The first part focuses on pulling together the right people to get the job done and securing their commitment. Often, people have been committed by others to be part of the project team. The goal of the first part is to shift this coerced commitment to an informed and consensual commitment...The second part of the framework is focuses on creating a shared understanding of the work ahead...I call this phase Discovery."

Having trained and coached Agile teams for over 12 years, I can highly recommend this book to both managers and technical teams.

At Agile New England, we are now using this book to guide the chartering and liftoff of all our volunteer teams, so they can experience Agile principles in action for all the types of work they do.
- by Nancy Van Schooenderwoert, @vanschoo
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