Release year: 2015

Author: Henrik Kniberg

Link to my handwritten notes

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Thanks to Antoine Lafontaine for generously providing this book.

Henrik Kniberg is an OG. After joining the board of directors of the Agile Alliance in 2009, he served as an Agile/Lean coach at Spotify and LEGO Group between 2012 and 2016. In this second edition of his 2007 book, re-published in 2015, he revisits and comments on all the things he learned about the Agile and XP methodologies from his past experiences “from the trenches”.

In his writing, Kniberg is clearly doing his best to translate the tacit knowledge he accumulated over the years in a tight package. Instead of having a prescriptive approach or saying something akin to “your mileage may vary” and leaving it at that, he deliberately emphasizes what worked for him and his teams, what he tried, where he failed and where he found success. In a way, it sort of reminds me about my own blog post Overcoming Learning Anxiety .

Therefore, I found that the best way to read this book was to use it as a report of how specific implementations of Scrum managed to transform some teams for the better. Not all advice found in this book will be immediately applicable to your team or your company (especially in today’s mostly hybrid world, which was not the norm in 2015 as far as I know). There is no “right way” to do Scrum, but the methods described in the book feel right. What’s most interesting is how these methods build on top of each other to allow the teams led by Kniberg to be truly agile. I think the big takeaway from the book is that Scrum is more than the sum of its parts: having a sprint planning, a board and a retrospective is not enough. We also need to manage and understand how these tools interact with each other, and adapt it to our reality.

In conclusion, if you’ve been doing Scrum for a while and want to compare with how some of the most agile teams in the tech industry used to do it, look no further!

Félix rating:

⭐ Star quotes:

  1. (p. 20) Everything in Scrum is time-boxed.
  2. (p. 84) Without retrospectives, you will find that the team keeps making the same mistakes over and over again.
  3. (p. 108) If you are stuck with having to do manual regression testing, and want to automate this away, don’t (unless it is really easy). Instead, build stuff that makes manual regression testing easier. Then consider automating the actual testing.