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A friend recently asked me this question:

What would you recommend in terms of the best book(s) to learn about Agile (Scrum) with XP practices? That is, if you had a team of developers who were newbies to Agile, Scrum, and XP, what books/articles would you give them to bring them up to speed on what they should be doing and how they should be doing it?

My Answer

This question from my friend is a very tricky one, in that it is very broad and generic, and my friend gave me no extra team or organizational context to go on, so about all I can do is give a generic answer, and that is what I've done below.

Don't have time to read all of these? Well then, read the first couple from each category, and then continue working your way down each list based on what brings you the most value at the time.

My Preferred Resources

All below are in order of our recommendation in each category.


  1. The Scrum Guide (Must read for all)
  2. _Scrum: A Pocket Guide_ by Gunther Verheyen (Must Read for Scrum Masters, Management. Highly recommended for all others.)
  3. Chapter 1 of _Professional Scrum Development_ by Richard Hundhausen
    • PDF download, see Chapter 1, which is a "must read" for all roles)
      • Don't let the "Visual Studio 2012" part of the book cover fool ya -- Chapter 1 is about Scrum and there is no tool stuff in Chapter 1.

  4. Cohn's _Agile Estimating and Planning_ (Must read for Scrum Masters)
  5. SSW's video on the Product Owner Role (Must watch for new Product Owners -- only 2 minutes!)
  6. Pichler's _Agile Product Management..._ (Must read for Product Owners)
  7. Hundhausen's _Professional Scrum Development_ (The book is a must read for Scrum Development Team Members)
      • If your team doesn't use Microsoft tools, then just ignore the chapters in the book about the MS tooling.

  8. Cohn's _Succeeding With Agile..._ (Must read for Scrum Masters once they have a few Sprints under their belts)
  9. Goldstein's _Scrum Shortcuts..._ (Great read for Scrum Masters)
  10. Derby/Larsen's _Agile Retrospectives_
  11. Any article, blog post, presentation, or other material on Roman Pichler's web site.
  12. Our web site, of course!
  13. The web site (especially the articles and forums)
  14. The Scrum Alliance web site (especially the articles)

XP (Extreme Programming)

  1. Jeffries' "What is Extreme Programming?"
  2. Jeffries' _Extreme Programming Installed_
  3. Koskela's _Test Driven..._
  4. Martin's _Clean Code_
  5. Feathers' _Working Effectively With Legacy Code_
  6. "The Rules of Extreme Programming"
  7. Wiki entry on XP Practices

Testing - Agile/XP

  1. Cohn's "The Forgotten Layer of the Test Automation Pyramid"
  2. Martin Fowler's Excellent article on Unit Testing
  3. Summary of Lisa Crispin's Presentation to Agile Denver on Test Automation
  4. Cripin's "Using the Agile Testing Quadrants"
  5. Crispin/Gregory's _Agile Testing_
  6. Crispin/House's _Testing Extreme Programming_
  7. Osherove's _The Art of Unit Testing_

User Stories (which originated in XP)

  1. I co-authored this article, and I'm pretty pleased with our work -- a great starting place for learning about User Stories.
  2. My "User Story Basics" article and all of the links at the bottom of that article
  3. Cohn's _User Stories Applied_
  4. Cohn's _Agile Estimating and Planning..._ (Chapter 12: Splitting User Stories)
  5. Richard Lawrence's "User Story Splitting Flowchart"
  6. My User Story Maturity Model (Has a list of User Story best practices)

Scaling and Spreading Scrum and Agile

  • Warning: Scaling Scrum is not for people or orgs new to Scrum. The first focus should be on doing "single team Scrum". After that, when scaling, we strongly recommend getting Scrum Coaching help. The resources below, while all excellent, are dangerous and risky in the hands of people new to Scrum. We realize that this is a self serving statement since we provide coaching services, but we honestly believe it based on our own experiences of having to rescue companies from poor performing implementations. It costs much much less to get started on the right foot than to rescue an organization. Having said that, we love the challenge of rescues, so don't be afraid to contact us!

This section has a page all it's own now !

Dispersed, Distributed, Offshore, and Multi-Site Scrum (use only if applicable)

  1. Deemer's "The Distributed Scrum Primer"
  2. Larman/Vodde's _Practices for Scaling Lean & Agile Development: Large, Multisite, and Offshore Product Development with Large-Scale Scrum_
    • Especially Chapters 12-13.
    • Note: This book is not for Scrum Newbies, but neither is Large Scale, Multi-site, and Offshore Scrum. Hire a Scrum Coach, or maybe a dozen.

  3. Woodward et al's _A Practical Guide to Distributed Scrum_
  4. Cohn's _Succeeding With Agile..._
  5. Numerous teams have gotten a lot of value out of the "Toss the Microphone " Daily Scrum Pattern, and not just for Daily Scrums. Some teams use it for Product Backlog Refinement, Retrospectives, etc.

Special Topics of Agile (use only if applicable)

  1. My article entitled "The Role of Managers In Scrum" and all of the links at the bottom of that article
  2. Agile Scrum Contracting Resources