I love listening to audiobooks, and my Audible subscription is probably the one purchase I am most excited about. Therefore I am constantly looking for new and inspiring books to listen to in the gym, on a commute or at home.
For this article, I’ve picked 3 audiobooks on agile project management for you. They are great if you haven’t had any contact with agile yet and if you want to understand what benefits agile methodology can bring to your organization.
The Unicorn Project by Gene Kim
This book was recommended to me in a PM forum. It’s actually a novel and not a non-fiction book.
The Unicorn Project is a fascinating story about a company undergoing a big transformation towards digital. It starts with a very captivating prologue: Parts Unlimited, a company that has seen better times in the past, has been facing a technical outage of their payroll system. As a consequence, they want to fire the lead developer, Maxine Chambers.
Fortunately, she can stay but she is reassigned to another struggling digital transformation project where she is going all in. Her project is struggling with the organization’s bureaucracy, tight project schedules, cost cutting measures and the high pressure level. The story is told from the perspective of the software developers, and if you have ever worked in the software field, you will probably recognize many things and smile. The broader story is how companies can successfully make the leap into the digital world and therefore save their business.
The author, Gene Kim, shares his wisdom in the form of concepts that have proven useful: Focusing on locality and simplicity, customer focus, iterative improvement, focus and psychological stability. You can feel that the author, who has worked as a CTO for many years, knows what he’s talking about.
The book is really fascinating and well written. However, it’s not an agile textbook. It’s more entertainment mixed with practical advice to run IT projects.
Scrum Mastery: From Good To Great Servant-Leadership by Geoff Watts
Unlike The Unicorn Project, which is a fiction book that you can read for entertainment alone, Scrum Mastery: From Good To Great Servant-Leadership is a practical guide for people who find themselves in a Scrum Master and role and who want to develop a better understanding of what their responsibilities are and where the power levers are.
The book was written by Geoff Watts, an agile consultant and coach who has been helping companies and individuals for over 10 years to up their agile project management skills.
Through a number of stories, the author illustrates the core responsibilities a good Scrum Master should have. His central idea is that Scrum Masters should follow the principle of servant-leadership to help their team achieve the goals and focus on removing impediments. The first step is to ask your team for feedback, because the team knows best what they need help with.
The biggest strength of this book are the examples. Geoff isn’t talking about theory like many other agile coaches (who’ve probably never managed a project). He gives practical and actionable tips on how you can better live your role as a Scrum Master. This way the job also becomes more fun and you turn yourself into a more effective “coach” for your team.
Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland
If you want to understand what makes agile methodologies so powerful, then grab this audiobook.
The author Jeff Sutherland, who helped invent the agile process known as Scrum, takes you through a number of real case studies where agile has worked wonders by helping organizations create better products in less time. What’s interesting is that the examples are not just from the world of IT, where scrum is most popular in. Sutherland also goes a bit into the history of scrum to illustrate what experiences led to the development of the now so popular process.
Overall a great and entertaining book with a lot of exciting stories. Get it if you are looking for a bit of broader context on the topic when you want to convince your organization to try agile.