Saturday, March 10, 2012

Who is agile : a review.

I suprised myself last night in the reaction that I had to this book. I wasn't sure what to expect from the book but I'd seen a couple of tweets about it. So I fired up leanpub, chose my price and downloaded.

I loaded the pdf and flicked through the first few pages, skimming the contents, and reading a few further pages. The format is a standard set of questions, an extra question and a recommendation of who to interview. I flicked through the first interview with Lisa Crispin which was painless, relatively interesting,  but the questions were uninspiring (I'm guessing a generic questionairre is difficult to 'jazz up').

I then looked at the names down the list and thought about the format and felt little bit angry. Is this book an intropection of the circle that the authors know? What does it give to anyone else? What about all the people this book doesn't cover? Are they not agile?

So I have some reserverations. I had kind of thought this book would be a guide of how to be agile. I was wrong. Fortunately, so far, it's not so bad.

I probably know of, read, and respect 10ish of the 30 odd in the book. Some of the interviews I've read are fairly intesting but the power this book are the links that people mention. I've spent the last hour getting lost in the technical/agile and non technical books. The interviews are all light reading too. Something you can, by its nature pick up, read one and leave for a few weeks.

What I was pleased about was the communites section at the back. There's a ton of interesting information and ideas about things you can do in your community some stuff I hope to bring.

What I must remember is that this is a work in progress and it can be regenerated on demand. If agile is your thing or you are wondering if its more that just scrum & TDD then I'd certainly recommend you pick this up. If you are looking for another agile manual, there are better suited texts.

Looking forward to the updates and following the links.


Yves said...

Hi John,

Thank you for your review of the "who is agile" book.
You are correct that this book does not want to explain "what is agile" or "how to do agile".

I'm glad you are honest about what you feel about the book. Although it makes me sad that you find he questions uninspiring, it does make me glad you say it.

Probably another reason why we reused questions people are asking themselves.

I'm glad you like the community chapter.
The book is all about community.

I do want to answer the question:
"Is this book an intropection of the circle that the authors know?"
I hope no. In our backlog we have now 190 people. Although I am well connected in the agile community, I think at least half of these people I have never met.
We won't cover all 190 in one book.
But we will create a new version of the book with more names later.

You did not say anything about the map. Is that something that is of interest to you or not?

Unknown said...


Re: the unispiring questions. I'm not sure how you could make them more inspiring. Because you are aiming the questions at many people you cannot eaisly tailor the questions to each of the people.

The map makes me sad. Why are there no contribtors in South America, Africa, Russia, India or China? Does this mean that a) they are in your 'backlog' b) they 'are agile' but out of your circle? c) agile is not popluar in these regions.

Anyway thank you for producing the book. Its very easy for someone to criticise and produce nothing. I'm genuinely enjoying it. I just wanted to feedback in an open forum.

Yves said...

Hi John,

In agile we use visual management to make the important information obvious.
The map was added last week. And yes then it became obvious how little diverse we were in countries.
I send out 20 mails last week to request answers from the countries you mention (and more) some of these were in my backlog, others I added last week.

I knew we had most answers from US & Europe. It was not until I saw the map I realized how bad it was.
A nice example of why we need to visualize information.

So for you interesting questions need to be personalized. Ok that was not my aim. I actually wanted to have the same questions answered by different people. For me this shows how diverse people are.

Yves said...

Hi John,

We are a few months later.
Did you have a chance to download a new version?

How do you feel now about the book?


Yves said...

Hi Johnno,

We are a few montsh later. Did you download any recent versions?

How do you feel about the book now?