What’s on Your Agile Bookshelf, Continued

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We brought our Product Owner, Diane H Leonard, GPC, STSI and our Scrum Trainer Jessica Crowley, STSI together again this week to discuss more Agile and Scrum books and resources to help you as a nonprofit in your Agile journey. (You can view the first video here and read the blog post here if you’d like to also think about reading the 6 books discussed in What is On Your Agile Bookshelf – Part 1.) 


3 Agile Books from Jessica’s Bookshelf:


I picked three books from the Addison-Wesley Signature Series that I really like.


The Essentials Scrum – Kenneth Rubin


This book is a practical guide to the most popular Agile Framework used today, the Scrum Framework. It walks through the roles, the artifacts, and the events used in Scrum.


There are a few particular sections I like in particular:

  1. The Scrum Framework: When you first get started using the Scrum Framework, there is a learning curve for unpacking what Scrum is and how to apply it in your specific environment. This section explains the core values, principles, and practices of the Framework. It’s a great starting point for building familiarity with the origins and purpose of Scrum as well as how the roles, events, and artifacts are used to create innovative solutions.
  2.  Portfolio Planning: Sometimes the systemic problems encountered on individual initiatives or projects can be found at the portfolio level. But how do you optimize the portfolio level to avoid systemic problems? This section contains a number of illustrations that describe how the portfolio level should operate so that the Scrum teams are empowered and the flow of work is optimized. It introduces prioritization strategies such as Cost of Delay which can help nonprofits optimize their portfolio.
  3. Organizational Debt: This section introduces a number of techniques for handling organizational debt such as the boy scout rule of handling it when you find it, incrementally in frequent small increments, high-cost first, and mixing it with valued community driven work.


The Scrum Field Guide – Mitch Lacey


This book is for your first year and beyond. 

There are three particular sections that I would like to highlight:

  1. Release Planning: How do you provide a release date for your product or service and march forward with confidence? This section highlights techniques to establish degrees of confidence so that your release plan dates are based on max and min velocity.
  2. Project Estimation: Every Product Owner will be asked at some point, how much will this effort cost and how long will it take. This section provides step by step instructions for how to obtain up-front project costing information. It describes techniques for estimating stories, determining velocity, determining team cost, and calculating project cost.
  3.  Prioritizing The Backlog: It’s crucial to have a ready backlog with prioritized high value work that team members can pull from. This section describes how you can use the four quadrant method to prioritize the backlog with stakeholders. 


Coaching Agile Teams – Lyssa Adkins


This book is a practical guide to team level Agile Coaching which is a core part of a Scrum Master’s job.  The three areas I would like to highlight are:

  1. Agile Coach Styles: Everyone has unique coaching styles and this section teaches you how to identify and use many different types of styles. Everyone on your team learns differently and being able to apply different styles will help you reach a coaching density across your entire team.
  2. Coaching at Two Levels: Coaching is dynamic and needs to range from one-on-one to a broad audience. This section discusses the differences between coaching an individual and coaching a team and how coaching changes over the course of a sprint.
  3. Coach as Conflict Navigator: Change is hard. Agile transformations bring about a lot of change. This is one of the many reasons why I particularly like this section. In this section you will learn about the five levels of conflict, how to navigate a team through them, and how a coach should respond to conflict situations. 


3 Agile Books from Diane’s Bookshelf:


Scrum the Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time – Jeff Sutherland.


Going a little old-school as this was the book that got me started thinking about Scrum learning more about Agile. The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Dr. Jeff Sutherland and J.J. Sutherland. It has amazing stories and case studies to get you engaged in the idea of Scrum and the Agile principles. At first I didn’t first buy it as a hardcopy, which is my preference for business-related books, but rather listened to while we were on a long family road trip. Actually, our agreement on the book is a fun story as we were debating what were we going to listen to while we went on a long road trip, with our two young children. Since I am an Enneagram Type 3 and Type A, my husband knew that the title “Doing Twice the Work and Half the Time” was gonna to hook me. Indeed, it is a great book that I credit with getting it all started for us here at DH Leonard Consulting with the launch of the Agile in Nonprofits training and coaching programs. We’ve given it away at some conferences before and it’s what we often talk about in our book club. We’ve used that as the foundation to our Agile in Nonprofits book club, we’ve had a lot of fun sharing the idea of twice the work and half the time.


The Fearless Organization – Amy Edmondson


This book is a relatively new one for me. Recently when I became a Scrum Trainer I was talking about psychological safety in the Retrospective section and a fellow new Scrum Trainer mentioned that the book was where psychological safety came from, The Fearless Organization, written by Amy Edmondson was actually written by a colleague of his! I love talking about psychological safety when we think about Retrospectives, and specifically when we think about the way in which we create an environment where our teams can thrive. I find that this idea really resonates with nonprofit staff and leaders. They’re caring for their communities, they like to care for each other as colleagues and so talking about a psychologically safe environment to do this work, often really hard work, to support their communities really hits them in their hearts. This is a great book to give a deeper understanding of why we talk about psychological safety. 


A Scrum Book: The Spirit of the Game – Jeff Sutherland


Also relatively new to my bookshelf, this was a little thicker, so I’ll be honest

it’s gonna take a few cups of coffee, not just one when you sit down to read the book. This book lays out the patterns that have been proven to help high-performing teams and there’s a website, scrumplop.org, where you can go to read about the patterns online. This is a great book to have on hand in your bookshelf because sometimes you’ll get a question that you want to find a few specific ideas on how high-performing teams address the same question. For example, our team loves to talk about sustainable pace, we love to talk about self-care, and nonprofit professionals are so passionate about their work that they don’t always take all their vacation time. Vacation, whether it’s a staycation or you’re going somewhere, is really important for self-care. This actually came up recently in our writing team, and indeed there’s a whole section on how to handle vacations when estimating a team’s capacity and calculating yesterday’s weather. The patterns outlined in the book constantly help me think about new ways that we can support our own teams as well as our clients. So while a slightly thicker book, it  has definitely earned the right to have a spot on my very crowded bookshelf.


View the full discussion video on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/L1ozXk7-jxg


Share your favorite Agile books in the comments below, our team would love to add more books to our bookshelves!

Learn more about what Agile in Nonprofits can do for you here.