What’s on Your Agile Bookshelf

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As a nonprofit, there are so many resources out there and that could be overwhelming when you are beginning your Agile journey. So we asked our Product Owner Diane H Leonard GPC, STSI and our Trainer Jessica Crowley, STSI, SPC what their favorite Agile books are right now to help you determine what you want to make space for on your own bookshelf. 


Diane’s Top Three Agile Books:


The Scrum Field Guide by JJ Sutherland:


The case studies in this book are so practical and help organizations understand what Scrum might look like in their organization. Not only are there great case studies in this book, but we are a bit biased as one of our own co-trainers that we work with at Agile and Nonprofits, Jon Haase, is highlighted in the book as well. 


Agile Leadership Toolkit by Peter Koning:


I love talking about leadership. I have my undergraduate degree with a minor in organizational behavior so talking about anything leadership related always gets me excited. I have been having a lot of fun with the Agile Leadership Toolkit. When I recently spoke at a United Way event, we were talking about Agile Leadership and how it’s not just about your title. This book has some really great nuggets that nonprofit leaders, regardless of their title, really like as well as some exercises for them to use in their own organization.


Agile Retrospectives by Esther Derby, Diana Larsen, and Ken Schwaber:


Agile Retrospectives is a great book to give you ideas for how you can make the Retrospective event in the Scrum Framework your own. When we do retrospectives as a team at DH Leonard Consulting we try to mix it up and also try to make it fun. Every team reacts in a different way to prompts when you’re trying to figure out what you as a team can improve. This book is a great one for giving you some ideas to help really just continue to improve your work and engage your team. Side note: If you’re looking to learn more about retrospectives, check out our recent post The Retrospective is an Important Event in the Scrum Framework.


Jessica’s Top Three Agile Books:


Scrum – A Pocket Guide by Gunther Verheyen:


My Agile journey started when I became the Scrum Master for a beta Scrum team. This book was given to me at that time by fellow agilist and nonprofit Licensed Scrum trainer, Erich Leonard, to help prepare me for coaching my first team. It was such a good book that I never gave it back! I referred to this book heavily during the first two years of my Agile journey because it was an easy read and provided an excellent overview of the Scrum framework.


User Story Mapping by Jeff Patton and Peter Economy


What I love about this book is that it helped me learn as a Scrum Master how to coach my Product Owner through decomposing work into stories and how to involve the team in that process. The book gave me a better understanding of how to break down big pieces of work into vertical slices of functionality. Vertical slices means more than one skill set can work together to solve a problem. I really like that this book is visually stimulating. Throughout you’ll see either real pictures of people engaged in story mapping or graphics that explain the steps in a way that makes it easier to apply. I find that this is the type of book where you read it once through and then when you’re actually doing the activity of decomposing stories, you will pull it out and reference key sections.


Actionable Agile Metrics for Predictability by Daniel Vacanti:


I refer to this book a lot! The reason I love this book is that it helped me think about optimizing the flow of work throughout my organization. It taught me how to implement meaningful metrics that go beyond burndown and velocity charts and encourage Agile behaviors. It also taught me about driving towards outcomes instead of just keeping resources busy. 


Our team is all about outcomes and learning objectives that lead towards outcomes that create an impact in a community. It’s not just about making your teams do more work, whatever that work is, in a busier fashion or faster, it’s about creating great impact in your communities.


Check out the YouTube video of Diane Leonard, GPC, STSI and Jessica Crowley, STSI, SPC talking about these books here.

Our team offers custom trainings and coaching to help your nonprofit implement Scrum and/or strengthen your Agile journey, learn more about what we can do for you, here.