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The ACCU passes on review copies of computer books to its members for them to review. The result is a large, high quality collection of book reviews by programmers, for programmers. Currently there are 1918 reviews in the database and more every month.
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Title:
Agile Software Development Ecosystems
Author:
Jim Highsmith
ISBN:
0 201 76043 6
Publisher:
Addison-Wesley
Pages:
404pp
Price:
£34-99
Reviewer:
Mike Higginbottom
Subject:
management
Appeared in:
15-6
This book is not a prescriptive list of bullet points. It is a gentle and sometimes rambling and repetitive journey into the philosophy and attitude of the proponents of agile development methodologies. Jim brings us into this world, in a very real and balanced sense, by coming at the subject from a huge variety of angles.

He draws on considerable experience, both his own and via interviews with agile colleagues, that of others. He talks about agility in the wider business and economic sense. He brings in chaos theory to highlight the need to balance on the cusp between order and disorder in a fast paced world. He discusses collaboration, customer value, pride in the craftsmanship of the product, evolutionary design and generative rules. He talks about replacing process and control with freedom and discipline, but the pervasive thread running through all this is an emphasis on people and the way they think and behave. This is the central message of the book. Process won't save you; but your people just might if you let them.

The book is an effort to immerse the reader in agility. As a consequence, there is much repetition. I suspect this is entirely intentional and, although I found it irritating at times, it is an approach that works. As you read, the principles will diffuse into you and there are enough 'zen slaps' to keep the narrative flowing and the interest alive. My only other criticism would be the lack of explicit comparison between the alternative agile methodologies. Again, this would seem to be intentional. This book is not designed to lead you to the one true way but rather to open your mind to the possibilities that agility offers.

There is little in the way of detailed process description; this is a book about principles rather than practices. You will not be able to read this book and suddenly have your project 'go agile'. You will be able to read this book and be in a position to decide whether agile is the way for your project to go. The implementation is left to other resources.

This is a must read both for those new to agility and those who are already operating in an agile environment. Highly recommended.