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Book Review: The Nature of Software Development

RonI bought Ron Jeffries’ latest book: The Nature of Software Development as soon as it came out, and then as usually happens I forgot about it, hidden away on my kindle. I finally got around to reading it recently, and I wish I hadn’t waited so long! It is a great read, plus it’s wonderfully illustrated by Ron’s own drawings. Also unlike many books it’s a quick easy read, I read it in two sittings.

Ron has been around software and agile a while, and it’s really refreshing to read his take on how software teams work. It’s honest, insightful and free from agile jargon. I found myself nodding along going “YES, that’s so obvious”. I am an agile convert, so I can’t really be a judge of this, but I think this book would work well to convince agile skeptics as to the real benefits we try to get with agile. I recommend that people considering adopting agile read this book first, so they understand the WHY behind agile, rather than all the terminology and ceremonies.

My personal favourite quote from the book – which I’ve taken to reading to just about everyone is:

Frankly, when I look into an organisation that “needs more features”, what I almost invariably find is an organisation that can’t say no. They have become order takers rather than decision makers.

This resonates so much with my own experience as a coach, I just never described it so eloquently.

If you work in the software industry – read this book. It might make you stop and think about why you do things the way you do, or more importantly if you are focussed on the right thing, i.e. delivering value feature by feature. Of course if you don’t like it, then as Ron says in the acknowledgements, it’s probably Chet’s fault 😉

Expert Tip: I recommend reading on an ipad rather than a kindle to take full advantage of the lovely drawings.