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Review: "Scaling Lean & Agile Development", by Craig Larman and Bas Vodde

By Ed Willis
August 18, 2009

I've managed a group that ran software projects using Scrum but also provided Scrum support to the wider R&D organization by developing Scrum templates and procedures, developing and delivering Scrum training and providing coaching and mentoring for groups taking their first steps down the Scrum path. So, to be honest, I pretty much figured I had Scrum licked. Then I read "Scaling Agile & Lean Development" by Craig Larman and Bas Vodde. I'd yet to scratch the surface of lean and so the excellent treatment lean gets in this book was expected to be new to me, but it was pretty embarrassing how much I learned about Scrum and agile development along the way. If anything it left me feeling a bit of an agile fraud. In the introduction to "Modern C++ Design" by Andrei Alexandrescu, Herb Sutter talks about how reading Alexandrescu's work made him realize that his understanding of C++ templates was still at the "container of T" level while Alexandrescu's work opened his mind to the vast possibilities offered by C++'s generics. This book leaves me feeling similarly abut agile methods. The book presents a great treatment of agile and lean development methods, places them in the context of queuing theory and lean thinking and provides a road map for configuring the organization in what will be a novel manner for most of us but a manner which has led Toyota and others to remarkable improvements in efficiency, employee satisfaction and responsiveness to market needs. If you're an agile practitioner and proponent, go get this book - you'll be glad you did. Note that a companion volume, "Practices for Scaling Lean & Agile Development" is due out soon also.


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