The Agile Bookshelf

The Agile Bookshelf

Obviously, not all my experience is first-hand. How should it? A lot of people are active in the area of product development, in software development and turning command & control hirarchies into true agile organizations. Some of the books below are simply must-read books. A lot helped me to increase my understanding of certain aspects. Below, find my agile bookshelf – conviniently, the book cover lead you to a book store … How handy.

INSPIRED – How to create tech products customers love

by Marty Cagan

This book is a true inspiration. Ever asked yourself “How can I build great products?”. Read this book. Marty has true experience from his various positions he held – amongst them SVP of product management and design at eBay. He condensed a lot of his knowledge into this book. Marty focusses on the ingredients of great products: People, Processes and (surprise) Products. He describes the people, their roles, their way of work, the overall processes on how to structure your product development and talks about how to come to great products. Marty is a true source of inspiration. If you ever have a chance to talk to Marty – do so!

DRIVE The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

by Daniel H. Pink

Dan Pink and his book about motivation changed a lot for me. His observations and studies on what motivates people really changed my view on people and current compensation systems. If you ever wondered what buttons you have to press to motivate your team – read this book. I simply say “Purpose, Autonomy, Motivation – PAM”.


by Eric Ries

Bad people could say “The book doesn’t bring any news. It only puts well-known practices into a new context”. Yes, it does. And it delivers great examples in practical context. The book itself often seen as the starting point for the whole “LEAN Startup” movement. Eric and the book stand for a lot of great ideas. For me a definitive must-read-book when in agile / LEAN context. Eric talks in this book about the BUILD-MEASURE-LEARN cycle, about the interdependencies of the various KPI’s (and how you measure them), why you should define hypothesises and experiments to do validated learning (over gut feeling) based decisions, when it’s time to pivot from your original plans and a lot (!) more. Don’t expect to read the book only once …


by Ash Mauria

Eric Ries delivers great food for thought in his book described above. He also gives great examples – but no real advice on how you could address a certain issue. How should you create a plan? How valid is this plan? Where is the riskiest element in this plan? What is a LEAN Canvas? How does it connect to our customer problems? How should you work with your customer when doing interviews? Ash delivers a lot of great input to put the ideas of LEAN in action. For me, the book is really great to kick-start yourself when implementing LEAN (even in a bigger company). A definite must read (multiple times) book.


by Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson

This book is both – serious content and fun to read. Amazing how the two founders of 37signals manage to combine their daily-work essence and easy-to-read text. The book contains statements like “ASAP is poison”, “Pick a fight”, “Emulate drug dealers”, “Say no by default” and a good explaination from their business experience why they picked these statements. A great reading … my favorite statement is “Build half a product, not a half-assed product”. There is truth in it.

Web Operations

by John Allspaw, Jesse Robbins

The idea of DevOps is currently around. How to bring software developers and system administrators closer together is a huge question in the industry. John and Jesse combine a lot of knowledge from various authors – and experts in their field – into this book. It touches topics like Cloud Computing, Metrics, Continuous Delivery, Infrastructure As Code (my favorite), Monitoring, Database strategies, Storage, Agile infrastructure and more. Each author doesn’t go too much into detail – but the overall book gives a great overview on what could and should be achieved by your agile organization’s IT operation team.

Continuous Delivery

by Jez Humble, David Fairley

Eric Ries seeds some thoughts on Continuous Delivery and the reasoning why you should work on such a quite technical topic in your software development department. He, however, focusses more on the business reasoning.
Jez and David talk directly from their technical practice. The touch not only facets – but to into detail of automation, deployment pipelines, various test and staging systems, feature based development, configuration management, testing strategies, zero-downtime releases, infrastructure management, risk assessments and more. This book helped us a lot to get Continuous Delivery implemented.

Management 3.0

by Jurgen Appelo

Agile organization means automatically a different approach of managing people. Jurgen focusses in his book on different aspects of agility and leadership principles, starting with software development team leaders to middle management and up towards upper management. The book is intended to help the various management levels to find their new role within an agile organization. Jurgen looks at both sides of the coin – at management aiming at agile and also on agile people wanting to become managers.

The Principles of Product Development Flow: Second Generation Lean Product Development

by Donald G. Reinertson

Ever asked yourself about the theoretical background of queue theory? Questioned the principles of “Work In Progroess” and the limitations introduced in Kanban on “bucket sizes”? Donald Reinertson describes in his book all the theoretical knowledge behind these principles. A great book to lookup some theory behind your daily agile work. Should you read it at once? Well, it might turn out to be a very theoretical excercise. Nevertheless, the book gives you and your team the background on the flow principles underlying most of the agile methods.