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2nd Edition of Alistair Cockburn's Classic Book Published

Agile Software Development: The Cooperative Game (2nd Edition) by Alistair Cockburn became available this week on the publisher site, and will soon be available elsewhere online and in stores. The first edition, based on a decade's work, research, and interviews with software project teams won a Jolt Productivity Award in 2001, and quickly became an important resource for practitioners of Agile software development.  This second edition profits from five more years of practice and research, expanding the approach even further, into the domains of business and engineering projects.  

We asked series editor Jim Highsmith why a second edition is needed:
The agile community has evolved rapidly in five years. While the fundamental principles and practices haven't changed, our understanding of how principles are applied have evolved and the application of practices have evolved also. One of the key tenents of agile development is constant reflecting and learning and if we didn't learn enough in 5 years to justify a second edition of a significant book in the field we wouldn't be following our own principles.
Changes have been largely limited to the new "Evolutions" chapters, so readers won't have to reread every page to search for newer ideas.  Among the updates added to this edition are: harnessing competition without damaging collaboration; learning lessons from lean manufacturing; balancing strategies for communication; and an update on Cockburn's own Crystal methodologies.  He also addresses the practical challenges of customizing Agile methodologies for specific teams, with discussion on how to tune and continuously reinvent a methodology, and how to compensate for incomplete communication.  

Cockburn makes new contributions on current "hot topics" including: the controversial relationship between Agile methods and user experience design, Agile and CMMI, and writing “custom contracts."  On the subject of introducing Agile from the top down, he writes:

I have learned how to separate project management strategies from methodologies.  Project management strategies too often get placed—incorrectly—as part of a corporate process or methodology. Encoding what should be on-the-scene strategies as fixed policies often forces managers to make ineffective strategy decisions and costs the organization greatly. It is therefore important to learn to separate the two.
The book also takes on crucial misconceptions that cause agile projects to fail, and addresses some frequently asked questions:
  • Where does agile development fit in our organization?
  • How do we blend agile ideas with other ideas?
  • How do we extend agile ideas more broadly?
Cockburn makes some suggestions for using his revised book:  
  • Those interested in “the rules of the game,” including but not restricted to software development, will find great information in the Introduction and first four chapters.
  • Those who want to get quickly to the agile model of software development and the construction of methodologies for their teams may want to leap to the second half of the book, or Appendix A on the Agile Manifesto, and from there, go to the methodology sections.
  • Those who have already read the first edition may want to read each “Evolution” chapter. These new chapters are easily identified by the gray thumbtab along the edge of the page.
  • He urges everyone to dip into Appendix B, with reprints of key writings by Musashi (the 17th Century samurai), Peter Naur (author of the article ""Programming as Theory Building," and winner of the ACM's 2005 Turing-award, also known as the "Nobel-price of computing science"), and Pelle Ehn (who built upon Wittgenstein's writings to develop the idea of software development as a language-game).

This is a seminal book for those practicing and teaching Agile software development approaches: Highsmith identifies Agile Software Development as one of  two key books at the heart of the Addison-Wesley Agile Software Development series

... this book and my own "Agile Project Management" anchor the series, in that they provide a broad context for agile project management and development. Other books in the series might discuss particular techniques for individuals or teams or specific methodologies. Alistair's "Agile Software Development," establishes a set of conceptual underpinnings such as collaboration, communications, reflection and learning, and more. While specific practices and techniques are important, experienced agile practitioners realize that a deep understanding of principles and concepts are the most important."

Related news: InfoQ brings you the first chapter of this book, Chapter 1: A Cooperative Game of Invention and Communication .


Update: This book is now also available at Safari Books Online.

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