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Agile Project Management: Creating Innovative Products

4.8 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0321219770
ISBN-10: 0321219775
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

“Jim Highsmith is one of a few modern writers who are helping us understand the new nature of work in the knowledge economy.”

—Rob Austin, Assistant Professor, Harvard Business School

“This is the project management book we’ve all been waiting for—the book that effectively combines Agile methods and rigorous project management. Not only does this book help us make sense of project management in this current world of iterative, incremental Agile methods, but it’s an all-around good read!”

—Lynne Ellen, Sr. VP & CIO, DTE Energy

“Finally a book that reconciles the passion of the Agile Software movement with the needed disciplines of project management. Jim’s book has provided a service to all of us.”

—Neville R(oy) Singham, CEO, ThoughtWorks, Inc.

“The world of product development is becoming more dynamic and uncertain. Many managers cope by reinforcing processes, adding documentation, or further honing costs. This isn’t working. Highsmith brilliantly guides us into an alternative that fits the times.”

—Preston G. Smith, principal, New Product Dynamics/coauthor, Developing Products in Half the Time

Now, one of the field’s leading experts brings together all the knowledge and resources you need to use APM in your next project. Jim Highsmith shows why APM should be in every manager’s toolkit, thoroughly addressing the questions project managers raise about Agile approaches. He systematically introduces the five-phase APM framework, then presents specific, proven tools for every project participant. Coverage includes:

  • Six principles of Agile Project Management
  • How to capitalize on emerging new product development technologies
  • Putting customers at the center of your project, where they belong
  • Creating adaptive teams that respond quickly to changes in your project’s “ecosystem”
  • Which projects will benefit from APM—and which won’t
  • APM’s five phases: Envision, Speculate, Explore, Adapt, Close
  • APM practices, including the Product Vision Box and Project Data Sheet
  • Leveraging your PMI skills in Agile environments
  • Scaling APM to larger projects and teams
  • For every project manager, team leader, and team member

About the Author

JIM HIGHSMITH is Director, Agile Project Management Practice, and Fellow, Business Technology Council at Cutter Consortium. He is also a Member of the Software Development Productivity Council, Flashline, Inc. Highsmith authored Adaptive Software Development, which won the prestigious Jolt award for excellence, and Agile Software Development Ecosystems (Addison Wesley). A recognized leader in the Agile movement, he co-authored the Agile Manifesto and co-founded the Agile Alliance.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional (April 16, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0321219775
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321219770
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,003,325 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael Cohn on May 2, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful and highly practical book. Within hours of putting it down I was already putting some of its advice into practice. A highly thought-provoking book, arguing, for instance, that agility is more attitude than process and more environment than methodology. Because of the complexity of today's software projects, one new product development project can rarely be viewed as a repeat of a prior project. This makes Highsmith's advice to favor a reliable process over a repeatable one particularly timely and important.
Interwoven into the book is a dialog between two project managers, one an agile development manager and the other a more traditional manager. Their conversations start each chapter and do an excellent job of introducing the main ideas of the chapter. Unlike many other agile books, the advice in this book can be applied to teams that are dipping their toes into agile waters or that are already fully immersed. Highsmith's writing, full of both wisdom and anecdotes, is both informative and fun. This book is a pleasure to read. More importantly, though, you will leave this book with some very specific practices you can immediately apply to your projects.
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The most striking aspect of this book is its content of technical wisdom. It is not only an analytical produce; much more than that it seems to be the voice of a very rich experience in product development.

The agile approach is not a set of specific tools and techniques but an extremely effective strategy to use a carefully selected subset of them based on a powerful set of guiding principles.

The responsibility of managing the development of a new product suddenly fell upon me, and Jim Highsmith's book has given me abundant guidance and pointed at all right directions to face happily and confidently this new challenge. Besides leading us to review and improve all previous practices.

If you have only heard of the agile approach and want to know what is it about -which was my case- this book fulfils the expectations generously. And if you already have a good notion of APM, I believe that the orderly, deep and complete presentation of the subjects will definitely help to refresh the knowledge.

And if you are in the software development business and just want to do your job better, forget the name `agile' and read it. It explains valuable concepts such as exploration factor, technical debt, first feasible deployment, anticipation, adaptivity, opportunistic refactoring that are universally valuable.

It is most definitely a 5-star piece of literature.
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As someone who has managed large custom software projects and programs for 20 years, I was concerned that applying Agile to project management would simply mean burndown charts and the like. What I found in Highsmith's book is a perceptive understanding of how people think, feel and actually work on projects. Approaches that take human behavior into account, in my experience, are far more successful than those that don't.

The concepts covered here, if really absorbed and understood, can benefit any project. I found Chapter 7 to be the most valuable for my current product development team, and ordered copies of the book for all my managers.
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This book is a thoroughly enjoyable read, from the emphasis on principles, the excellent job navigating the difficult territory of the line between prescribed process and anarchy, and the stages a team goes through as it embraces an agile style of development. I even thought that the hypothetical story added a nice element of repetition to each section that helped drive home the main points.

The one thing I would've liked was for this book to get off the fence and decide to be software-related. Almost every example is software related (except for the basketball analogy that got beaten to death...), but it goes out of the way not to specify software practices because this is about arbitrary project management. The book's in the "Agile Software Development Series" and the author is primarily a software consultant. I'd prefer it stuck to software rather than trying to go for broader appeal because there were several practice areas where detail was elided on that basis and could've really helped make the practices more concrete.

Also, it would've been nice to have a little grid mapping up common-day software development methodologies like Scrum, XP, FDD, and DSDM against the practices in the book. I tried to do it in my head, but once you get past 5x5, it's something that should've been provided.
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APM claims to be a fresh approach to developing better products, be these hardware or software. Highsmith writes gracefully and most of the book sounds sensible. To me, the key point in APM is the continuous innovation. If the cost of experimenting falls sufficiently, then the people working on a project should seriously consider an overall strategy of attempting development phases that are, say, a week or so in length. And iterating. The idea is to explore as much as possible, with the cost in time being minimal.
This is in contrast to the conventional method of drawing up detailed specifications and a timeline, at the start of a project, in Pert or Gantt charts, and then forcing development to conform to those specifications and schedule.
[The continuous innovation and reduced delivery schedules are also explored at length in a companion book, "User Stories Applied" by Cohn, ISBN 0321-205685.]
Perhaps the best nugget I found in Highsmith's book is that "agility" involves an optimal amount of structure. He illustrated that by saying that in a highly changing development environment, a rigorous configuration management discipline is essential as the bedrock framework. In software, that is spot on. The quicker your group's code changes, the more the need for strict checkin. Invariably, rollbacks (oops!) are necessary.
APM may work best for software and small hardware projects. Where you can experiment cheaply, especially with simulations. For large hardware projects, this basic premise may not hold. The widespread use of Pert and Gantt charts, and the techniques behind these, exist not entirely, or even mostly, because of inertia. Expert judgment does usually go into these, and sometimes there is no other alternative.
His putdown of Business Process Reengineering is that its greatest flaw was in elevating process over people. Some of you will surely have wry grins over this.
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