6 March 2014

Upcoming Book: Effective Software Delivery - Agility Without the Dogma

I've started working on a new book with the rather lofty goal of cutting through the marketing hype and near religious dogma of the various brands of Agile. My focus is on conveying what is effective in the context of a group of people building software in their particular domain.

Effectiveness is the book's overarching concept. There are a multitude of different ways to deliver software, but in the end effectiveness can be distilled into two key activities:
  • Ship something
  • Reflect on how you shipped it in order to improve
Whether you're a lone app developer working in coffee shops or a multinational corporation building equipment that costs millions of dollars, Ship and Reflect still apply if you're going to be effective.

Of course, the details of how you ship and how you reflect are going to vary from team to team and domain to domain, and that's exactly why people and organizations struggle with the different Agile brands. David Anderson, the originator of the Kanban method, made a very interesting statement on the Kanban Dev Yahoo Group back in 2008:
So while I have heard of agile teams that appear to exhibit high maturity behaviors - objectivity, use of leading indicators, low degrees of variability, and (maybe, just maybe) continuous improvement in a failure tolerant culture, I have not heard of one that existed without the direct leadership of one of the personalities in our community. At this point, it is impossible to take the "David" or "Jeff" or "Israel" factor out of the achievement of the high maturity.
That statement really stuck with me, and even more than five years later I have seen teams face similar struggles. That's why, I believe, that a focus on effectiveness versus following a prescribed process is a better approach. What's effective for that lone app developer likely won't be effective for a 50+ person development team building the avionics for a new airliner. What's effective for a group of people customizing a CRM package may not be effective for people maintaining a legacy system running on a mainframe.

The book is intended to cut through the dogma of individual processes to help reveal practices and approaches that are effective in the context of the reader.

Currently I'm self-publishing the book on Leanpub, and you can subscribe to receive updates as they're produced. If you'd like to review the book, please let me know.

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