Preface from The Concise Executive Guide to Agile
The good folks at the IEEE Computer Society are just about ready to publish my e-book The Concise Executive Guide to Agile. It will be available for purchase in the Computer Society store in May. A Kindle version will follow in June.
Here is the preface from the guide:
Preface: Connecting the Agile Dots
“The closer one listens to it, the more distantly one hears it.” These insightful words about Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony apply equally well to the art of Agile software methods. The nuts and bolts of Agile methods are not likely to be very relevant to the executive. Instead, he or she needs to stand back and focus on the mindset, values, and principles that make Agile methods so powerful, and on harnessing their power to create business value.
It is the objective of this guide to provide the know-how for approaching Agile in a concise manner that requires minimal investment of time and effort by the reader. It does so by summarizing most Agile topics in a page or two with minimal use of geek jargon. Detailed coverage of a topic is left for follow-on reading in the selected references that accompany each topic and in the Further Reading appendix.
The guide targets executives as the primary audience. It gives them the principles they need to comprehend and apply in order to become effective with an Agile initiative. These executives are not necessarily software engineering experts. They come from any function that Agile affects — R&D, Marketing, Sales, Program Management, Professional Services, Customer Support, Finance, or IT. Nor are the executives restricted to companies whose business is software; they are as likely to reside in companies that embed software in their products or utilize software in implementing business initiatives. Nowadays one can hardly think of a company that would not be included in at least one of these three categories.
Four broad topics are covered in The Concise Executive Guide to Agile: rationale for Agile, implementing it, fitting it into your company, and scaling it to the enterprise level. The rationale explains why Agile is so appropriate for our time, summarizes the state of the art in Agile, and sets realistic expectations with respect to its business value. Implementing addresses critical “real life” issues such as risk assessment and mitigation, off-shoring and outsourcing, governance, and sustainability of the Agile initiative. Fitting connects Agile to the hard realities of introducing a new software method into an environment in which various processes already exist — multiple software methods as well as planning and budgeting processes. Scaling is primarily about the numerous benefits to be attained through end-to-end implementation, such as enabling new business designs that fully utilize the power of Agile.
In the course of covering these four topics, the guide puts special emphasis on the operational, financial, and business benefits of Agile methods. The overarching message is clear and simple: Agile is the most productive technology your business is not using.
 Giuseppe Sinopoli. “Dream and Memory in Schubert’s ‘Unfinished.’” Program Notes to his recording of the symphony with the Philharmonia Orchestra, Deutsche Grammophon 410 862-2, 1984.