The fact that this book is already at his second edition after a first publication in 2004 says something about its value. In one of his definition of Agile, Jim Highsmith says, “Agility is the ability to balance flexibility and stability”. I will say that his book balances nicely high level thinking and a pragmatic approach. The book provides a framework for running agile projects and gives also insight in some more neglected related topics like managing projects portfolios or measuring the success of Agile projects.
The author starts by defining what Agility is and emphasizes that Agile is about “delivering value over meeting constraints”. The book describes the Agile Project Management (APM) framework, discussing its values and presenting the phases (Envision, Speculate, Explore, Adapt, and Close). The core values of the APM are:
* Delivering Value over Meeting Constraints
* Leading the Team over Managing Tasks
* Adapting to Change over Conforming to Plans.
All these aspects are covered with both a high level vision (after all values are values), but also by describing daily project activities: Key points that will help you understand the author message are put in evidence. Example: A coaching leader’s attitude is reflected in the question “How can I help you deliver results?” The micro-manager’s attitude is reflected in the question, “Why isn’t task 412 done yet?”
The final parts of the book deal with topics related to Agile project management: scaling, project portfolio management, measuring performance and fostering innovation. This is definitely a book that I will recommend to every people involved in project management, agile or not. I always think that learning Agile practices should be preceded by understanding Agile values. This book provides insightful material for values and practices.
Reference: “Agile Project Management”, Second Edition, Jim Highsmith, Addison-Wesley, 392 pages