Ylan Segal

Book Review: The Agile Culture - Pixton, Gibson & Nickolaisen

Pollyanna Pixton, Paul Gibson and Niel Nickolaisen write a concise and practical book on how to foster an Agile culture inside your company. It is geared towards those responsible for leading teams of software developers and other IT professionals, although most of the material is applicable to any leader.

Agile, at its roots, is about delivering software that brings value to the company and ultimately to the customer. In order to achieve this, it proposes short iterations and embracing change. The authors thesis is centered around trust and ownership. Trust from the leader to the team to do their job professionally. Ownership by the team of the product they work on. If both are present, the team will flourish. Leadership is about giving your team the tools to do their work and protecting them, not about meticulous control. Innovation comes from a culture where risk can be taken and failures can be learned from, as opposed to fear of being blamed and possibly fired. In a way, a lot of what the authors talk about is about aligning incentives of each individual to those of the organization. Of course, clarifying the organization goals and priorities and communicating those to it’s members is required.

The book reads very easily and is reach with anecdotes that illustrate good and bad leadership alike. The advice is sensible and not at all process-heavy like some other so-called ‘Agile’ books that have meticulous schedules for stand-ups, backlog pruning, retrospectives, etc. The advise feels also real-wordly: For example, it recognizes that not everyone in your organization may embrace Agile and gives you tools to deal with difficult employees and managers.

If you are a team leader, there is a lot to learn from this book.

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