Fourteen Must-Read Agile Books

Even if you aren’t a member of the IT field, learning about Agile practices can be beneficial. Agile project management can teach individuals how to work better in teams and accomplish more with a fluid game plan that responds to customer feedback, regardless of industry.

So what’s the first step to learning everything there is to know about Agile methods? While googling “best agile books” is an obvious place to start, millions of search results quickly become overwhelming.

Fortunately, we’ve simplified the search for you and created a list we think is worthy of your time. Whether you’re a seasoned project manager responsible for coaching teams, or a fresh-eyed developer needing to brush up on Scrum techniques, we’ve got a book for you. From hard copies to Kindle downloads, or even if your preferred way of learning is by listening, we’ve noted which books offer audio and electronic options.

Before you start cracking open all the books you can get your hands on, take a quick glance at our list to whet your appetite and steer you in the right direction. Below, you’ll find fourteen simple summaries of the best books for Agile connoisseurs and newbies alike.

We try not to play favorites — the numbers are there for organizational purposes only, as we believe every book on this list deserves a spot in your home library.

Without further ado, here are the best Agile books that made our must-read list:

Best Agile Books


Agile Project Management For Dummies

This learning-made-easy guide breaks down Agile practices into an easy-to-understand format. Readers will learn how to turn Agile principles into practice and tackle projects with focus, skill, and speed. This book teaches readers Agile values and principles; how to focus on customer needs; enable collaborative teams; leverage Agile frameworks, tools, and techniques; and release products earlier and more frequently. This book is a great place to start learning how to turn projects into customer-based experiences. Get expert insight into creating a clear vision, establish project roadmaps, forecast schedules, prepare releases, and more.

Written by: Mark C. Layton, an entrepreneur with 25 years of experience in organizational design, Steven J. Ostermiller a community builder and professional Agile trainer and coach, and Dean J. Kynaston a Certified Scrum Professional and Agile transformation leader.

Great for: Beginners, and project managers looking for an intro to Agile

Available in: E-book, paperback


Coaching Agile Teams: A Companion for Scrum Masters, Agile Coaches, and Project Managers in Transition

Readers will gain insight into how to adopt a new Agile mindset in this proactive and practical guide. This book pulls skills and techniques from other fields, such as professional coaching and mentoring, to help readers understand what it takes to become a great Agile coach. Inside you will find information on the many facets of an Agile coach’s role, such as teacher, mentor, problem solver, performance coach, and conflict navigator. Coverage also includes coaching past cooperation into full collaboration, evolving your leadership style, recognizing failure and success, and getting the most out of your personal growth journey.

Written by: Lyssa Adkins, Certified Enterprise Coach, Project Management Professional, ICAgile Expert in Agile Coaching, Organization and Relationship Systems Certified Coach, and co-founder of the Agile Coaching Institute.

Great for: Agile coaches, Scrum Masters, project managers, product owners, and all other team members

Available in: E-book, audiobook, paperback


The Software Project Manager’s Bridge to Agility

This book is aimed at understanding the connection between Agile software development teams and project managers. The first section of the book reviews Agile practices, answers the question, ‘What is Agile?’, discusses how it differs from plan-driven styles, and details the Agile project lifecycle. Section two focuses on ‘the bridge’ or how the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) relates to Agile practices. This guide addresses topics such as learning to trust your team, avoiding common mistakes when switching to Agile, knowing where to implement quality assurance, systematically using Agile techniques to reduce risk, understanding iterative release planning, retrospectives, and more.

Written by: Michele Sliger, a Project Management Professional (PMP), Certified Scrum Trainer (CST), and owner of Sliger Consulting, and Stacia Broderick, CST and PMP and founder of AgileEvolution Inc.

Great for: Project managers looking to switch from “command and control” methods to facilitation and collaboration

Available in: E-book, paperback


Scrum Mastery: From Good to Great Servant Leadership

Part of Geoff Watts’ “Agile Mastery Series,” this book covers what it takes to become a truly great Scrum Master. A collection of stories and guidance, the second edition of this book gives readers the practical tools to go beyond simply facilitating the Scrum process. Readers will learn what characteristics make a great Scrum Master, leadership skills, how to generate and increase team engagement, the importance of retrospectives and daily Scrums, how to increase the performance of your team, and how to foster a creative and collaborative team. This highly rated resource is a favorite of Scrum Masters.

Written by: Geoff Watts who has over twenty years of experience coaching Scrum teams.

Great for: Practicing Scrum Masters looking to grow into a great servant-leader, development teams, product owners, and any managers of an Agile project

Available in: E-book, audiobook, hardcover, paperback


The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses

Through this book, readers can discover a successful business path through lean startup and manufacturing principles. Lean thinking, considered the precursor to Agile, helps businesses grow through human creativity, validated learning, and scientific experimentation. The lean startup approach shows today’s entrepreneurs can use continuous innovation to respond to customer needs. This enables companies to shift direction and constantly test their vision while remaining productive and innovative.

Written by: Eric Ries, a seasoned entrepreneur, author of the book “The Lean Startup” as well as the blog “Startup Lessons Learned”, and co-founder of IMVU.

Great for: Entrepreneurs, project managers, and anyone interested in a scientific approach to creating and managing companies

Available in: E-book, audiobook, hardcover, paperback, spiral-bound


Continuous Delivery: Reliable Software Releases Through Build, Test, and Deployment Automation

This award-winning book gives readers the principles and technical practices needed to deliver fast, high-quality functionality to users. Readers will find that this book covers the foundations of a rapid and reliable delivery process, the automated process for managing changes called the “deployment pipeline,” and the essential “ecosystem” needed for continuous delivery as developers write code. The authors review key issues and identify best practices for automating acceptance testing, improving collaboration between team members, navigating risk, and managing infrastructure, data, and more.

Written by: Jez Humble, Google engineer and teacher at UC Berkeley’s School of Information, and David Farley, independent software engineer and consultant and early adopter of Agile development techniques.

Great for: Product development, software engineers, systems administrators, testers, and project management

Available in: E-book, hardcover


The Agile Enterprise: Building and Running Agile Organizations

This book focuses on the two conditions that must be present before a company can reap the full benefits of Agile. First, a business must be committed to and focused on delivering quality products to the customer. In addition, each employee must feel empowered to take ownership and responsibility. Readers will learn how to embrace change, establish an idea pipeline, incorporate a discovery mindset, focus on customers and employees, and map a holistic Agile view of the company’s journey and purpose. Helps readers embrace new tools like user story mapping, lean canvas, Agile budgeting, feedback loops, and more.

Written by: Mario E. Moreira, veteran Agile coach, certified Scrum Master and Scrum professional, and Agile and CM Domain expert.

Great for: Executives, cross-functional teams, entrepreneurs, and all types of management looking to switch from traditional methods to agile methodology

Available in: E-book, paperback


Project Management the Agile Way: Making it Work in the Enterprise

This book covers different types of Agile methods and how project management can integrate these principles into their teams and projects. It speaks to those who are already comfortable with traditional management of software projects and are attempting to make the switch to Agile methodologies. Content includes Scrum, XP, Crystal, EVO, and more. Readers will enjoy practical tips on how to best use Agile practices as well as potential alternatives. This textbook-style publication offers questions for readers at the end of each section to promote critical thinking and real-world application and sets up the reader for greater understanding by establishing Agile vocabulary, background, and framework upfront.

Written by: John Goodpasture, Project Management Professional, experienced coach, instructor, consultant, and leader of high-tech program offices.

Great for: Experienced project management, architects, and system analysts

Available in: Hardcover


Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time

In what can be considered a real-world guidebook, “Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time” tells stories from Jeff Sutherland – the man who first put together a Scrum team more than twenty years ago. One of the most popular Agile books, this selection tackles issues of human error and how weaknesses can be turned into productivity with a Scrum mindset. Sutherland proves Scrum’s value isn’t limited to software development but can be applied to all industries — healthcare, education, finance, and others — and everyday life for worldwide impact. Inside, you’ll find true Scrum success stories and lessons ranging from government agencies to robotics and martial arts.

Written by: Jeff Sutherland is the co-creator of Scrum, founder and chairman of Scrum Inc. J.J. Sutherland is the CEO of consulting and training firm, Scrum Inc.

Great for: Software development, programmers and other members of the IT field, Agile teams, and anyone who wants to become more efficient in what they do

Available in: E-book, audiobook, hardcover, paperback, audio CD


The Art of Agile Development

The updated version of this book combines a deep understanding of Agile with practical development experience to help readers learn how to build valuable software. This comprehensive guide offers advice on Agile planning, delivery, and management and includes the latest ideas from Extreme Programming, Scrum, Lean, DevOps, and more. This Agile toolkit is a great resource for readers to learn how to improve their agility, work as a team to understand priorities and focus on value, decrease development costs, evolve designs, and produce and deliver reliable, market-leading software.

Written by: James Shore, an Agile consultant and practitioner who has been leading teams in practicing Agile development since 1999.

Great for: Any software engineer or developer, project manager, solution architect, and team leader

Available in: Paperback


Essential Scrum: A Practical Guide to the Most Popular Agile Process

This definitive guide is based on the author’s personal, real-world experience coaching hundreds of companies as they move toward Agile project management. This book lays out essential Scrum principles and practices needed to help teams use continuous innovation to create radically superior products customers will love. The aim of this book is to provide every team lead, project manager, and executive with the same Scrum vocabulary and understanding to improve communication and the development process. This book is a great way to make sure Agile teams are on the same page. It covers the basics of Scrum and dives into practical ways to apply the suggested principles to your teams and projects.

Written by: Kenneth S. Rubin, Certified Scrum Trainer who has trained over 20,000 people and coached over 200 companies, and the first managing director of the worldwide Scrum Alliance.

Great for: Beginners, experienced Scrum Masters and Agile leaders, and everyone in between

Available in: E-book, paperback


Agile Estimating and Planning

This comprehensive guide lays out the principles of estimating and planning Agile projects illustrated by real-world experiences and case studies. The author lays out why Agile planning works better than traditional methods and specific ways readers can accomplish more in half the time. Coverage includes how and when to re-estimate an Agile project, iterative development, how to schedule and estimate projects involving multiple teams, how to manage a big project by splitting it into smaller features, and how to prioritize features.

Written by: Mike Cohn, founder of Mountain Goat Software and founding member of the Agile Alliance, experienced technology executive, and Agile coach.

Great for: Development managers, and every team lead and team member

Available in: E-book, paperback


Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days

This book is a collection of interviews of well-known tech company founders. The stories tell of each company’s “early days” when most were just a few friends with an idea. Interviews include founders from Apple, Flickr, Lotus, PayPal, and other companies. This book will both educate and inspire readers as they uncover founders’ secrets for building a successful startup, creating value, and staying productive in business. Founders also share their mistakes, what went wrong, and what to watch out for as they learned how to develop an idea into an empire. This collection of interviews gives readers insight into what drives these influential people and how they think, and helps readers see both the possibilities and challenges that come with starting a business.

Written by: Jessica Livingston, organizer of Startup School and founding partner of Y Combinator, a technology startup accelerator.

Great for: Entrepreneurs, project and product managers, and anyone who wants to learn more about business and startups

Available in: E-book, audiobook, hardcover, paperback


The Deadline: A Novel About Project Management

If books with a plot are more your scene, “The Deadline” might be right for you. Different from typical Agile textbooks, this book is written in a novel format making it a lively and informative read. This fictional tale centers around Mr. Tompkins and his telecommunications company who are up against an impossible deadline. He divides his large staff of employees into six teams, giving them each different managing and product development methods, as they compete against each other to see who can come up with the best product and meet the set deadline. This novel ends each chapter with journal entries from Mr. Tompkins that review effective project management principles.

Written by: Tom DeMarco, an experienced software engineer and consultant, and one of the early developers of structured analysis.

Great for: Anyone looking for an entertaining way to get an introduction to project management

Available in: E-book, paperback

So there you have it – some of the best books we’ve found relating to Agile. While our list doesn’t cover all the great resources out there, we hope it’s been helpful and you’ve found one or two titles that have piqued your interest. There are lots of resources out there for avid learners and a good place to start your Agile journey is with the help of Agile books.

John Carter, TCGen Principal & Founder

John Carter

Principal, TCGen Inc.

John Carter is a widely respected expert on product development and product management.  He is the co-inventor of Bose’s Noise Cancelling Headphones and designer of Apple’s New Product Process (ANPP).

As Founder of TCGen Inc., he has consulted for Abbott, Amazon, Apple, Cisco, HP, IBM, Mozilla, Roche, 3M and many other organizations.

He is the author of “Innovate Products Faster,” a handbook for accelerating product development.  He currently serves on the Cirrus Logic board of directors. John has a MS in electrical engineering from MIT.