Let me say up front that I’m a biased reviewer. I attend the SF Bay Area Agile meet-up organized by Agile Learning Labs, where both authors work. In fact, I won a copy of this book at the last meet-up event. And I’m a big fan of Chris Sims. Chris has a knack for engaging a group in interactive exercises that not only make clear the practicality of agile principles but are also just plain fun.
The Elements of Scrum is a short and pleasant read, a wonderful metaphor for what it conveys about Scrum, that Scrum makes software development a joy. Chris and his co-author, Hillary Louise Johnson, introduce Scrum in a way that is clear and practical. The book introduces the principles of agile, the Scrum framework, and a host of supporting practices.
Chris and Hillary make a great point of rejecting the common myth that agile means no planning: “On an agile software project, the plan is all around you, in the form of user stories, backlogs, acceptance tests, and big, visible charts: these are all part of your communication-rich environment.”
I particularly liked the metaphor comparing software development to sailing: the only way to reach a destination is to adjust frequently for wind and current. While I don’t want to spoil the experience by quoting this section, suffice it to say that it vividly describes the need for agile.
Any organization embarking on Scrum should hand this book out to all stakeholders. Given its brevity and practicality, it might actually get read. And it is bound to generate enthusiasm.
And by the way, if you live in Silicon Valley, check out the agile meet-up at http://www.meetup.com/AgileManagers/.