In the past year I have taken a number of courses and read even more books to get a good grasp of what the role should be and what tools I have to execute my responsibilities.
Most who work in software development these days have at least a superficial grasp of Kanban, Scrum, Lean, Agile and all the other buzzwords. However, it’s one thing to know just enough to work as a developer in a team, but quite another to be responsible for maintaining and developing work practices.
So, here are a few recommendations of books I’ve read thus far.
For years I’ve worked in scrum teams, and partaken in workshops and meetings, retrospectives and backlog grooming sessions, but I never really learned why. I just accepted it as The Way Things Are. Anderson’s book on Kanban is a good start to deepen your knowledge in agile work flows.
Most teams work in an intertwined mix of Scrum and Kanban philosophies.
Edit: Although I recommend reading Andersson’s Kanban book in its entirety, his Essential Kanban Condensed can be downloaded for “free” (you have to provide some personal information) from leankanban.com.
If you want a quick touch up on Scrum, have a look at ScrumGuides.org.
Mary and Tom Poppendieck are lean legends, and this book really sums up the lean mindset in a very hands on way. It gives you great advice and tools on how to start measuring and evaluating the efficiency of development teams and the surrounding organisation. Well written and easy to understand.
Mary also gives great speeches at various conferences, some of which can be found on YouTube. Informative and also I find her very dry humour entertaining.
Lyssa Adkins book is a little like a security blanket. You’ll need to learn to affirm and validate your work and your performance yourself. In that, this book helps.
As agile coach, you will rarely be told you’re doing the right thing, that you’re doing a good job. The positive effects of your work may be hard to measure – at least in the short term. You will however definitely be told what others think you should do, what isn’t working, how things ought to be etc.
At times it’ll feel like everyone knows how to do the job better than you. Don’t fall victim to impostor syndrome! You’re the one who got the position as coach, so you’re probably the most qualified. In that, this book helps.
You’ll likely meet reluctance and outright hostility towards some (or sometimes most) of your suggestions, even though they’re perfectly reasonable and the arguments against are flimsy at best.
You’ll need to learn to know when you’re right and stick to your plan – while at the same time always question and re-evaluate everything (including yourself and your great plans).
In all that, this book helps.