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Agile Podcasts: A Great Learning Alternative

Posted by Kirill Klimov on Jan 30, 2013 |

There is a large variety of quality books out there on Agile and Scrum, but due to the large number of titles, it can often be difficult to know where to start. As a result, we often resort to compiling lists of the best Agile books available, such as the annual list by Jurgen Appelo. The same goes for articles, blogs and so on. Reading is a very widespread way of consuming information about Agile practices, but it is not the only way. Listening to podcasts is an alternative way to increase your knowledge. It may be a better alternative for some people than reading – you cannot read while doing things such as driving! 

You might be surprised to know that there are quite a number of really good podcasts dedicated to Agile and Lean topics. It can be difficult to choose which ones are good because when you search for Agile podcasts on your favorite podcasting client there are lots of results. The problem is that some podcasts are already dead (discontinued) and some have only just started and as a result haven't yet proved stability and showed their value to listeners over time. While this article is inspired by Jurgen’s list of books, it tries to solve the main challenge of finding reliable and valuable Agile podcasts. Whilst I do not claim to present a full and complete picture, I do want to share the great podcasts I have been lucky to find and listen to for some time.

Requirements to get onto the Agile podcasts list    

Here is the check-list of requirements, which I used to filter the podcast for this article:

  • Maturity – a podcast should have at least 15 episodes available, and it should have been started at least 6 months ago.
  • Alive and periodic – the last episode should be published within last 3 months, and there should be at least 4 episodes published during the last year.

That’s basically it! I’m subscribed to all of the podcasts below and could highly recommend all of them.

Here is the list of podcasts with summarized information and a brief description:

Agile Toolkit Podcast

  Host: Bob Payne (@agiletoolkit)
Total episodes: 139*
Started: August 2005
Frequency: ~ Fortnightly
Average length: 22 minutes**
Agile Toolkit Podcast feed
Agile Toolkit Podcast iTunes page
Agile Toolkit Podcast home page

The Agile Toolkit Podcast is the pioneer of Agile podcasts. As its description says, its purpose is “broadcasting conversations about Agile Software Development, Agile Methodologies, techniques and tools”. Most of the episodes are conversations between Bob Payne and his guests. You can also find recordings from presentations at various Agile events, such as Agile DC. Podcast guests include Jim Highsmith, Bob Martin, George Dinwiddie and Ken Schwaber.

Agile NYC

Host: Jochen (Joe) Krebs (@jochenkrebs)
Total episodes: 72*
Started: June 2010
Frequency: ~ Fortnightly
Average length: 30 minutes**
Agile NYC podcast feed
Agile NYC iTunes podcast page
Agile NYC home page

The Agile NYC podcast is formed around the Agile NYC user group and events. Podcast guests are often presenters at various Agile NYC events and some of these presentations are directly recorded as episodes (for example, Linda Rising presented a keynote for Agile Day 2011 called “Fearless Change”. Whilst the podcast itself is only a little older than 2 years, there have been a lot of guests on the podcast who are well recognized in Agile world. As a result, it should probably receive the "most guest stars” badge within our list, with the guests including Jeff Sutherland, Ken Schwaber, Bill Joiner, Jurgen Appelo and Christopher Avery to name a few.

Agile Weekly

Hosts: Clayton Lengel-Zigich (@claytonlz), Roy van de Water (@royvandewater), Drew LeSueur (@drewlesueur), Derek Neighbors (@dneighbors) and Jade Meskill (@iamruinous)
Total episodes: 112*
Started: March 2009
Frequency: ~ Weekly
Average length: 17 minutes**
Agile Weekly podcast feed
Agile Weekly iTunes podcast page
Agile Weekly home page

As the iTunes description says, this podcast is “Agile coaches from Integrum talking about their pain and success following Agile and Lean principles in the real world”. The podcast is a mix of conversations between a slightly changing group of podcast hosts on various Agile topics, as well as interviewing different guests. The mix of formats, different groups of hosts and the stability in delivery of new episodes makes Agile Weekly a really great Agile podcast.

SPaM (Software Project and Measurement) Cast

Host: Thomas Cagley (@TCagley)
Total episodes: 227*
Started: January 2007
Frequency: Weekly
Average length: 28 minutes**
SPaM Cast podcast feed
SPaM Cast iTunes podcast page
SPaM Cast home page

This is the largest podcast in our list by number of episodes. This is also the first podcast in our list not directly connected to Agile. In my opinion, whilst it covers Agile often, it also covers more topics such as product ownership, automated testing, estimating and planning. Software Process and Measurement Cast also combines different formats including interviews with different interesting guests from the world of process measurement as well as some essays by Thomas Cagley, the podcast host.

The Agile Revolution


 
 
Hosts: Craig Smith (@smithcdau),
Renee Troughton (@AgileRenee) and
Tony Ponton (@SvenNotnop)
Total episodes: 55*
Started: July 2011
Frequency: ~ Weekly
Average length: 29 minutes**
The Agile Revolution podcast feed
The Agile Revolution iTunes podcast page
The Agile Revolution home page

The Agile Revolution is a relatively new player on the podcast scene. Produced by a group of Australian folks, it combines interviews with different guests (such as Alistair Cockburn and Joe Justice) as well as discussions between the hosts on various Agile topics. Some of the recent topics include Programmer Anarchy, retrospectives, DevOps and Cynefin. Another episode format is a report from conferences (such as Agile 2012 and Agile Australia 2012 covered in detail in a series of episodes). Viva la Revolution brothers and sisters!

Lean Blog Podcast


 
 
Host: Mark Graban (@MarkGraban)
Total episodes: 161*
Started: July 2006
Frequency: ~ Fortnightly
Average length: 28 minutes**
Lean Blog Podcast feed
Lean Blog Podcast iTunes podcast page
Lean Blog Podcast home page

Mark Graban's Lean Blog Podcast focuses mostly on lean implementations within health care. As we see more and more applications of lean principles, listening to it brings a new and fresh perspective and new ideas about value stream improvements, even to practitioners of software development. Many of Mark’s guests are well known in Agile community, including Jim Benson on Personal Kanban, Eric Ries and the founders of LeanPub.com.

* Podcast frequency is a rounded average over the last 6 months
** Average length is rounded to an average length over the last 20 episodes.
The total episodes count is also listed for general information and is accurate information as of January 2013.

Get Listening

To get you excited, here are some guests you could hear on these podcasts (many of them appear multiple times): Linda Rising, Ken Schwaber, Jeff Sutherland, Alistair Cockburn, Tim Lister, Tom and Mary Poppendieck, Jim Highsmith, Jeff Patton, Ron Jeffries and Chet Hendrickson, Robert C. Martin, Bill Joiner, Christopher Avery, David Hussman, Jean Tabaka, Jutta Eckstein, Lyssa Adkins, Michael Spayd, Esther Derby, James Shore, Ryan Martens, J.B. Rainsberger, Mary Lynn Manns, David Bland, Alan Dayley, Howard Sublett, George Dinwiddie, Jurgen Appelo, Kenny Rubin, Eric Ries, Joe Justice.

You can, of course, subscribe to all above podcasts one by one to try them out and decide for yourself which ones you like. If you would like to subscribe to all of them, I have created a Lean Agile podcasts OPML list file. Just download it and feed it to the podcast terminal of your choice (your preferable software for downloading and playing podcasts, such as iTunes) to subscribe to all of these great podcasts at once.

I would like to take a moment and express a deep gratitude to all of the Agile podcast hosts listed above, as well as the many others whose podcasts are not on the list. Thank you! As a reader and listener please consider visiting the iTunes page for the podcasts you like and rate them as it helps to promote podcasts. Alternatively, consider sharing your favorite Agile podcasts with your friends and colleagues or send them this article!

Agile is about experimenting and trying new stuff in order to improve our work. I call on you to experiment with how you learn new stuff – give podcasts a try, and you might never look back. This list is far from complete, so I welcome you to share your favorite Agile podcasts in the comments area of this article.

About the Author

During his career, Kirill Klimov has been lucky to wear a number of different hats – web applications developer, systems administrator, project manager and people manager, primarily within the e-commerce and travel industries. Kirill started an offshore development office for an international company in Kiev, Ukraine and was overall in charge for it. Recently, he has been working as a consultant, trainer, and coach and is passionate about improving the effectiveness of individuals, teams and organizations using Agile and Lean principles and techniques. While having a strong technical background, nowadays Kirill enjoys working on the complex people side of the software development process. 

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Another Podcast by Diana Larsen

Hi,
Our "Partnerships & Possibilities" podcasts of conversations about leading with agility can't quite make your list, as we are a month short of the 6 month history you mention.
In spite of our "youth", I hope your readers will sign for notices of new podcasts at:
futureworksconsulting.com/newsletter
and check the ones we've already published at:
www.futureworksconsulting.com/blog/category/pod...

Best, Diana Larsen
author, consultant, coach, Agile Alliance board member

One more by Lee McCauley

Here's one that's been going for about 8 months. It just posted its 15th episode and happens about every two weeks:
This Agile Life
Host: John Sextro
Podcast feed
iTunes page
Blog home page

This is a podcast dedicated to living Agile in the development trenches and not just the ideal. Regular hosts include developers, Agile coaches, a CTO of an Agile consulting company, and even an "evil enterprise architect". I hope you will be willing to add it to your list.

Thanks,
Lee

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