The Scrum Field Guide: Practical Advice for Your First Year (Agile Software Development Series) 1st Edition, Kindle Edition
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The book uses a standard format throughout:
(a) The Story: A fictitious narrative involving a team that is representative of scenarios many of us have experienced. These subsections are written like a novel, and involve characters that are very typical of the people found in software companies. The stories are entertaining, down-to-earth, and eventually lead to a core message that is covered in later sections on practical tips.
(b) The Model: The "What" - practices that you can leverage to be effective at Scrum. An example would be a formula on how to run retrospectives.
(c) Keys to Success: Pragmatic tips and advice for avoiding the issues accounted in the story, to set the team up for success.
(d) References: A decent compilation of supporting books, papers, and web sites that provide more info and alternate views.
I found the chapter lengths perfect for short reading sessions, and the consistent framework throughout the book made ingesting the great tips very easy. The less formal writing style and informal diagrams were exactly what I wanted to see in a field guide.
Of course, the content shines as well. Mitch uses real-world analogies throughout the book to explain core concepts. For example, Mitch maps concepts around continuous integration to headlights, washing machines, and GPS. Some of my favorite other tidbits are:
- The idea of a team consultant (not core team members, work for other teams, but offer up their expertise to temporarily fill a gap)
- Ideas on managing bugs with agile and minimize technical debt (yes, contrary to many believers, bugs do exist even in an agile process)
- The emphasis on "done" definitions
- The stressing of engineering (development, QA) practices as important to team success (many Scrum books focus just on the project management side, but leveraging a combination of agile practices helps improve success rates)
- Tips on how to fix team issues, such as poorly run daily stand-ups and cultural issues
In summary, the book is very well done and a must-have for Scrum professionals. My only nit on the book is that it is a bit wordy at times and could get to the point more efficiently. However, the bits of duplication help to solidify the points, so this is not a big complaint. If you are a practical person that is more comfortable where the rubber meets the road as opposed to 20000ft theory, then this is the book for you.
Also of note: The Kindle version is a very nice conversion - cleaner than other Kindle books I have read. Recommended.
The author has clearly spent extensive amounts of time in the trenches working with teams implementing agile, observing their dysfunctions, and trying to find creative solutions. It shows in every chapter.
It's not really meant to be a sequenced introduction to the hows and whys of scrum. There are a million other books that do that. It's more of a toolbox where each chapter provides a different tool to fix very specific, and very likely problems that you're team is or will have as they implement scrum. In particular, the stories in the chapters about implementing roles, determining sprint length, and defining done hit a little too close to home and ultimately helped me fix some longstanding problems on my team.
Other chapters were good but not nearly as applicable for me. I think that's the intention though. I think everyone reading this will have at least 2 or 3 chapters that they'll identify strongly with and say "Ouch, that's me".
Whether you're just getting started or you're been at agile for a while, the solutions and techniques presented will help fix problems and reduce stress.
Its definitely something that I plan on keeping close by on the bookshelf!
I found that once you take and pass the CSM course, you have an understanding of the theory, but putting that theory into practice under real world conditions is the real trick.
In reading this book, I've lost count of the number of times where I've had the "Oh man, we totally ran into that very same problem!" moment... followed by "<groan!>, I wish I read this earlier!"
What sets this book apart is that it gives you the practical information that you don't really get through the CSM course, but rather through (in this case, Mitch's) hard earned experience. Every chapter had something that I could directly relate to, and usually more than one nugget of wisdom that I thought about introducing in a future iteration or project.
Some highlights (among many!)-
1) determining an iteration length. The shorter the iteration, the more opportunity for feedback and course correction.
2) Off-shoring. If you must, then here's what you can do to maximize the chances for success... but be prepared for a tough road ahead!
3) Mixing SCRUM roles. I've done it, but here's why you shouldn't!
4) Engineering best practices- hard to be successful with SCRUM if you don't have the technical practices in order.
5) Story and Task decomposition- some useful techniques and guidelines.
6) How to deal with maintenance work that interrupts your sprint
7) Dealing with technical debt, why is it important?
I found that the book itself was very easy to read. I think the anecdote at the beginning of each chapter is an effective way to get the reader to relate to the topic. You could read the book from start to end, or as I did, jump from chapter to chapter, picking out the topics that are most relevant to your situation.
For those new to SCRUM, having this book is really like having access to an experienced SCRUM trainer/coach to help guide you through the inevitable pitfalls. For those who are experienced with SCRUM, this book has a lot of advanced topics as well as serving as a great reference to the SCRUM fundamentals.