Top 9 Business Books for an Agile Mindset

There are several Agile books that are well-known among Agile enthusiast and Kanban practitioner. If you are looking to quickly build up your know-how on Agile or Kanban, I would recommend these 9 must-read books.


#1: The Lean Startup – Written by Eric Ries 

Why Choose This Book? 

The Lean Startup approach by Erie Ries helps companies that are looking to build more efficient capital management and leverage human capital efficiently.

What Makes This Book Unique? 
Inspired by the lessons from lean manufacturing, it relies on “validate learning”, rapid scientific experimentation, as well as a number of counter-intuitive practices that shorten product development cycles and measure actual progress without resorting to vanity metrics. It allows the companies to shift directions with agility, and alter plans inch by inch, minute by minute. Lean Startup is a well-known mindset among startup entrepreneurs for enabling companies to increase their agility, flexibility, and capability.

#2: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team – Written by Patric Lencioni

dysfunctionsWhy Choose This Book?
This book provides a leadership fable, which anyone can learn a great lesson of what not to do and to do.

What Makes This Book Unique?
In the Five Dysfunctions of a Team, the author Patric Lencioni once again offers a leadership fable that is as enthralling and instructive as his first two best-selling books, The Five Temptation of a CEO and The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executives. This time, he turns his keen intellect and storytelling power to the fascinatingly complex world of a team.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team has become the world’s most definitive source on practical information for building teams. The book’s impact extends beyond business schools, churches, non-profit organizations, professional sports teams, and the military. When the book first came out, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team sold over two million copies and continues to be a fixture on national best-seller lists week after week.

The book provides 5 Main Dysfunctions:

  • Dysfunction #1: Absence of Trust

    The fear of being vulnerable with team members prevents the building of trust within the team.

  • Dysfunction #2: Fear of Conflict

    The desire to preserve artificial harmony stifles the occurrence of productive ideological conflict.

  • Dysfunction #3: Lack of Commitment

    The lack of clarity or buy-in prevents team members from making decisions they will stick to.

  • Dysfunction #4: Avoidance of Accountability

    The need to avoid interpersonal discomfort prevents team members from holding one another accountable.

  • Dysfunction #5: Inattention to Results

    The pursuit of individual goals and personal status erodes the focus on collective success.


#3: The Fifth Discipline – Written by Peter M. Senge  

FifthDisciplineWhy Choose This Book?
This book is a great example of the art and practice of the learning organization. It’s one of the best books for building an agile organization.

What Makes This Book Unique?
The Fifth Discipline, Senge describes how companies can rid themselves of the learning disabilities that threaten their productivity and success by adopting the strategies of learning organizations, which new and expensive patterns of thinking are nurtured, collective aspiration is set free, and people are continuously learning how to create results they truly desire. 

#4: Agile Software Development with Scrum – Written by Ken Schwaer, Mike Beedle

Why Choose This Book?
You can utilize this book for the aspiring development team to use Scrum.

What Makes This Book Unique?
First written in 2002 and essential in managing technology and systems development efforts, this book describes building systems using Scrum, an agile software development process, to quickly and seamlessly implement XP in their shop while still in producing actual software. Using Scrum and the Agile process can virtually eliminate all downtime during an XP implementation.

#5: Personal Kanban: Mapping Work – Navigating Life – Written by Jim Benson

PersonalKanbanWhy Choose This Book?
Any Kanban enthusiasts can apply Kanban principles to his or her personal life. It can be used as a guideline and way to improve your daily work schedule, family events, and future plannings.

What Makes This Book Unique?
This Kanban book explores using the system beyond your office space and jumps into two Kanban principles (Visualizing Work, and Limiting Work-In-Progress WIP), which are applicable for managing work and discovering balance in your personal life.



#6: Kanban Change Leadership: Creating a Culture of Continous Improvement – Written by Klaus Leopold and Siegfried Kaltenecker


Why Choose This Book?
This book is for advanced Kanban users and team leaders looking to solidify a culture of agility and continuous improvement.

What Makes This Book Unique?
Kanban establishes a culture of continuous improvement, and specifically, this book focuses on the aspects of change and leadership that lead to a culture of continuous improvement.



#7: Stop Starting, Start Finishing – Written by Arne Roock 

StopStartingStartFinishingWhy Choose This Book?
This is a great book for teams new to Kanban, and Kanban practicing teams that are struggling to limit WIP.

What Makes This Book Unique?
Written as a comic booklet, this book provides a quick introduction to Kanban and Lean for software development. Principles examined in the book include Kanban for limiting Work-In-Progress (WIP) to eliminate waste and finish tasks better and faster.



#8: Kanban from the Inside – Written by Mike Burrows 


Why Choose This Book?
This book is geared toward for business leaders looking to deepen their understanding of Kanban.

What Makes This Book Unique?
This book provides a model for leaders who want to introduce a shift toward agility and continuous flow. The author describes four principles and six core practices that can be adopted while implementing Kanban. The book is divided into three major parts:

Part I draws on real-world experience to explain the Kanban Method through nine values: transparency, balance, collaboration, customer focus, flow, leadership, understanding, agreement, and respect. It also introduces Kanban’s three Agendas and the Kanban Lens.

Part II describes other models useful for understanding and applying the Kanban Method more effectively. It is a tour of related bodies of knowledge, including Systems Thinking, Lean, Agile, and Theory of Constraints.

Part III is a step-by-step implementation guide that brings up to date the Systems Thinking Approach to Introducing Kanban (STATIK). It offers practical ways to capture and address in your Kanban implementation the needs of your organization, your colleagues, and your customers.

#9: Real World Kanban: Do Less, Accomplish More With Lean Thinking – Written by Mattias Skarin 

RealWorldKanbanWhy Choose This Book?
If you are looking to upgrade and revamp the agile team through hands-on training, this is the book you want to utilize.

What Makes This Book Unique?
This book contains numerous real-world examples of continuous improvement and flow. You would need to start drawing Kanban board, place sticky-notes and develop Work-In-Progress if you start reading this book. In another word, this is not a theory-based book, but an action-driven guideline book for Agile team(s) to practice on various real-world sample projects.


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