What are the Agile Coaches Reading?

I was reading a book last week and thought it one of the better books I hadn’t heard of from others. It made me think, “What are others reading that I should know about?” I asked our Rocket Nine team, our partner network of agile coaches and trainers, and some of our most successful customers and colleagues

So, here is the first part – our Rocket Nine Team


Larry Lawhead, Agile Coach and Trainer – 

The Professional Product Owner: Leveraging Scrum as a Competitive Advantage, First Edition
by Ralph Jocham; Don McGreal
“This is a must-read for every Product Owner and coach who plans to mentor great Product Owners. It is an informative book, but can easily be used as a “post read” reference. It covers subjects such as defining vision, value, and validation. It also offers helpful insights into empiricism The book then finishes with practical insights into Product Backlog and Release Management.”

The DevOps Handbook by Gene Kim, Jez Humble, Patrick Debois, and John Willis
“This book gave me the “faith” to believe we could actually move software engineering into the 21st Century. It covers principles of flow, feedback and continual learning and experimentation. Yes, these are common themes everywhere, but do we truly understand how to make these part of our engineering culture? This book is full of great insights that could serve as a DevOps implementation roadmap.”

Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision-Making, 3rd Edition By Sam Kaner
“This book continues to be an enduring standard on how to help self-organized teams participate in decision making. It is a great source for ideas on moving teams to reaching agreement.”

The Scrum Fieldbook: A Master Class on Accelerating Performance, Getting Results, and Defining the Future
“A great book from JJ Sutherland, now the CEO of Scrum, Inc. Through numerous case studies, he builds demonstrates Scrum can be applied anywhere. If you believe the work your organization does is too complex for Scrum, this book will very likely change your mind.”


Cliff Rosa, ScrumMaster and Trainer – 

Recently finished Adorning the Dark by Andrew Peterson, and last month completed Team of Teams by General Stanley McChrystal, Turn the Ship Around by L. David Marquet and Business Model You by Timothy Clark et al

Paul Moore, Technical Coach and Trainer – 

In Progress – Bob Martin, Clean Agile
“Recommend if you haven’t been around for the history of agile – how it came to be, where we are today. Bob was there through its formation and has a lot of experience with its growth, adoption, and challenges.

The bulk of the book is Bob’s interpretation of the practices described in Kent Beck’s Extreme Programming Explained. I would point readers to that primary reference first, then come to this one for more color on the why’s. Bob, unfortunately, comes across as very set in his views with the material feeling cast in amber, not having evolved with where the software industry is at today.”

Just finished – Kathy Sierra, Badass: Making Users Welcome
“This helped focus what I’m trying to accomplish as a trainer and coach. I’m not trying to create developers who know Test Driven Development, I want developers that are confident in what they build with an eye towards extending and maintaining complex systems. Kathy uses the analogy of camera makers appealing to budding photographers – more emphasis on what results the photographers get, less on the tools that get them there.

The book has a good description of deliberate practice and how to acquire new skills. I’ve already updated my CSD course material to incorporate the ideas. Such as, sub-skills that build up to a bigger ability, how knowledge and skills relate, and a ladder of progression akin to the belt system in martial arts.”


Scott Dunn, Enterprise and Leadership Coach –

The Science of Successful Organizational Change: How Leaders Set Strategy, Change Behavior, and Create an Agile Culture by Paul Gibbons
“This book is an empirical take on what really brings about change, and makes a point to debunk a lot of generally accepted gurus and cargo cult behavior, including consultants to take credit for results when there is a myriad of variables in a typical corporate environment. Ask a dozen coaches about their approach to agile transformation (organizational change) and you will likely get many different answers. You certainly do from the experts behind SAFe, LeSS and Scrum at Scale. My observation of most clients and organizations is that they don’t ask the hard questions of coaches or consultants about previous results, references, work history, or qualifications.”

The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth by Christopher L. Heuertz
“Self-awareness is a key part of leadership, effectiveness and how you collaborate with others. I’ve really appreciated the enneagram as a way of not only understanding how we are wired, but also the liabilities or “dark side” of those personality traits. For example, I might get along well with others and have high empathy, but the weakness inherent in that is that I might not share my opinion if I think it might upset others. Worse, I may be so focussed on others that I don’t actually know what I really think about something or what I want for myself. My family and I had really enjoyed Ian Cron’s The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery, so I wanted to continue on this path.”

Victor Bonacci, Agile Coach and Trainer –

Fixing Your Scrum: Practical Solutions to Common Scrum Problems by Ryan Ripley and Todd Miller.

“If you’ve been on a Scrum team, chances are you’ve seen bad behaviors and misalignment take things off course. At just over 200 pages, this book shares over 70 common anti-patterns of Bad Scrum and how to look at fixing them. I like that each chapter has a coaching experiment for Scrum Masters to use with their teams.”

You can follow Vic’s comments on Twitter!

Lean Software Development: An Agile Toolkit by Mary Poppendieck and Tom Poppendieck
“It’s been a treat to go back and re-read chapters of this tour de force introducing Lean practices to the world of software development. Mary and Tom’s anecdotes from nearly twenty years ago are as relevant today, and they gave us no fewer than 22 tools to help us navigate agile approaches that work. I returned to this book for the section on seeing waste, and I continued glued through many topics, including a timely refresher on writing contracts. A classic!

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
“My daughter chose this classic to read for school, and I’ve joined her as a first-time reader of Jane Austen. Written at a time of new ideas and rebellion (just after the French Revolution), this story follows two characters who navigate changing social norms in an English country village. Looking forward to our next family book club session.”


Bob Gnewuch, Agile Coach and Trainer –

Getting Naked: A Business Fable About Shedding The Three Fears That Sabotage Client Loyalty by Patrick Lencioni


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