At Agile Roots, I promised to post references for my talk “Better Agile Through Stealing”. Here are my favourite references on the topics I talked about. For each of the books, the main link is to a “dead tree” version of the book, with a secondary link to an e-Book version (if available).

Evidence-Based Management

All the key resources can be found at The site gives an overview, links to books by Jeff Pfeffer and Bob Sutton (the key authors in the field), and also contains some podcasts that make a great introduction to the ideas. Note that their focus on adapting to your particular situation is similar to “situationally specific processes” in agile’s Declaration of Interdependence.

Principled Negotiation

The classic book is Getting to Yes by Fisher and Ury (eBook). I’ve described here how it relates to negotiating scope, and defining a situationally-specific process.

Qualifications-Based Selection aka Competitive Tenders without Prices

I’ve written an overview in the second half of this page, and find this FAQ very relevant (even though it is written about architecture and engineering rather than software).

The Winner’s Curse

I’ve posted an overview here, which includes links to the (few) resources that I’ve been able to find on how the Winner’s Curse relates to Software

Individuals and Interactions

In the talk I tried to break this down into four key themes, as follows:

1. Important

My favourite book highlighting the importance of these issues is In Good Company by Cohen and Prusak, which focuses on the topic of Social Capital.

2. Learnable

The “learnable” theme is supported by a collection of different resources.

On the general notion that we can change more than we might realise, I’d cite the literature of Positive Psychology as an example – even though it focuses on topics like happiness and optimism rather than workplace interaction. (E.g. Learned Optimism by Seligman and The How of Happiness by Lyubomirsky)

On the particular topic of changes in personality, either “real” or “indistinguishable from real”, check out Personality Trait Change in Adulthood (pdf) by Roberts and Mroczek (particularly the section on individual changes), plus a couple of podcasts which I’ll post links to shortly. (The podcasts contain the examples I cited in my talk, but I’ve temorarily misplaced the links!)

And for learnabilty of sensitivity to interpersonal dynamics, see a brief section in the middle of this podcast from Rob Goffee.

Admittedly, of all the themes in my talk, learnability-through-practice is perhaps the least supported by research and literature. I suspect this reflects a relative lack of interest in learnability on the part of academics, particularly in those courses which emphasis the traditional HR skills of screening people at recruitment time and then training them with short, focussed training courses. The process that I talked about, which consists of gradual self-directed learning over months and years, seems to have received less attention.

3. Deliberate practice

This was the key learning technique that I focused on in the talk. My views are inspired by the work of Anders Ericson, who coined the term “Deliberate Practice”.

4. Authenticity

The concept of Authentic Leadership can be summarized as “Be yourself with more skill”. That description comes from the book Why Should Anyone Be Led By You? by Goffee and Jones (pdf eBook).

It’s also worthwhile to make particular mention of political skill, which is one aspect of workplace interpersonal skill. “The” book on the subject appears to be Political Skill at Work by Ferris, Davidson and Perrewe, although I also found some of the chapters in Positive Organizational Behavior by Nelson and Cooper (ebook) to be helpful and relevant.

Finally, Alistair’s post on collaboration is an excellent resource (and a topic worthy of more attention, both from academics and the agile community).