Lean from the Trenches : Managing Large-scale Projects with Kanban, Paperback

Lean from the Trenches : Managing Large-scale Projects with Kanban Paperback

4.5 out of 5 (3 ratings)


From start to finish, you'll see what it takes to develop a successful agile project.

Find out how the Swedish police combined XP, Scrum, and Kanban to modernize their department--and learn how you can apply those same principles to your own workplace.

We start with an organization in desperate need of a new way of doing things and finish with a group of sixty, all working in sync to develop a scalable, complex system.

You'll walk through the project step by step, from customer engagement, to the daily "cocktail party," version control, bug tracking, and release.

In this honest look at what works--and what doesn't--you'll find out how to: * Make quality everyone's business, not just the testers. * Keep everyone moving in the same direction without micromanagement. * Use simple and powerful metrics to aid in planning and process improvement. * Balance between low-level feature focus and high-level system focus.

You'll be ready to jump into the trenches yourself as you apply those same techniques to your own software development projects.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 176 pages, illustrations
  • Publisher: The Pragmatic Programmers
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Software Engineering
  • ISBN: 9781934356852



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Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.

Review by

Really liked this book. I already read Scrum and Xp from the trenches and I recommended it to a lot of colleagues who where starting Scrum with little experience. This book for me it the logical successor. It gave me very good insights in how to apply kanban in addition to scrum and xp techniques. The tone of this book is very clear, basic and simple. The ideas can be applied immediately in a professional environment. The book is coaching and never dogmatic.

Review by

Writing a book on software project management methodologies is not something to be taken lightly. One runs the risk of not satisfying anyone while trying to cater to the wishes of everyone. Even though the title and cover pages are 100% buzzword compliant, which is a warning sign by itself, Henrik Kniberg seems to have achieved a satisfying result in his book 'Lean from the Trenches: Managing Large-Scale Projects with Kanban'.The good partsThe book is short. In 150 pages you cannot go into details and start theoretizing, and this is good because Kniberg promises to do one thing well and he delivers it: A case study of a 60-person software development team who used a mixture of Kanban, Agile (Scrum) and XP methodologies.His explanations are generally clear and his definitons are sharp enough for practical purposes. He does not preach and never takes a 'here is the absolute truth, use it as it is' approach. He tells the his team's story and does not hide the parts that are still evolving.The chapter 'Agile and Lean in a Nutshell' is one of the best chapters. In only 10 pages, this chapter succeeds to provide the reader with the essence of those methodologies. The subsection 'One Day in Kanban Land' is a very nice example of using simple visualizations and storytelling to explain a concept in very concrete terms.The core ideas such as 'why WIP (Work In Progress) should be limited', 'how to reduce the test automation backlog', and 'cause effect diagrams' are very well explained. I have also liked the chapter where the author justifies their use of physical Kanban boards and how they scaled those boards to 60 people.The bad partsThe book is short. Do not expect to find detailed theoretical and historical discussions on the different methodologies mentioned. You will definitely need at least a few other books to fill in the gaps.At that page count, it is probably normal that the author did not go into the direction of deeper analysis, and especially talk about the details of problems they have solved, as well as other challenges he and his team encountered. Nevertheless, I believe enriching the book in that direction would only prove to add more value to the book.The photographs, screenshots, diagrams, and index could be better, in color and titled. In its current form, they help to form the impression that the book has been very much rushed into production. That may be fine in terms of lean book production, or Agile Book Writing, or using Kanban to write a book, but the readers deserve more than that when they hold a book in its final form. Moreover, simply dropping footnotes at the end of a page and not creating a short References chapter is annoying because it prevents you from easily skimming those resources.ConclusionAs a case study of a successful, real-life software development project that utilized Lean, Agile and Kanban, this is a book with very valuable lessons. It will probably be more helpful for decision makers such as software team leads and/or software project managers. It is not the reference for any of the software methodologies, but it stands as a very good evidence describing the daily operations of a relatively large team.

Review by

One of the more down to earth, real world looks at lean and agile that I've come across. In the first half of the book, Kniberg outlines how his team used lean/agile to implement a software system for the Swedish police. He describes how the process evolved, what worked, what didn't, and why. There is no preaching and minimal buzzwords. Everything is explained through practice, trial and error, and experience, including the parts they had not figured out how to solve. It's refreshing to see a book like this with a real world account instead of an attempt to market the agile or lean concepts. <br/><br/>The book contains photos and diagrams that help visualize the concepts. The second part of the book has "in a nutshell definitions" if a few concepts, including scrum and xp. <br/><br/>Some nice quotes from the book:<br/><br/>I don’t claim that our way of working is perfectly Lean. Lean is a direction, not a place. It’s all about continuous improvement.<br/><br/>The key to minimizing risk in large projects is to find a way to “slice the elephant,” that is, find a way to release the system in small increments instead of saving up for a big-bang release at the end.<br/><br/>The project board is probably the single most important communication artifact in the project. It provides a high-level picture of what is going on in the project and illustrates flow and bottlenecks in real time.<br/><br/>The speed of a project is largely determined by how well everyone understands what’s going on. If everyone knows where we are right now and where we’re going, it’s much easier for everyone to move in the same direction.<br/><br/>If people can agree on a goal that they believe in, this has an immensely positive effect on self-organization and collaboration. Conversely, if people don’t understand the goal or don’t believe the goal is achievable, they will unconsciously disassociate themselves from the business goal and focus on personal goals such as “have fun coding” or “just get my part of the work done and go home.”<br/><br/>One of the classes in our code base was getting way out of control and needed some significant refactoring, but there was some resistance to spending time on that. So, one of the team leads printed out the whole class and laid it across the conference table! It was more than 7 meters long (23 feet)!<br/><br/>Our process was discovered rather than designed.<br/><br/>The nice thing about gut feel is that it often is a leading indicator of a problem that’s about to occur, while hard metrics often show a problem only after it has occurred.<br/><br/>Perfection is a direction, not a place!<br/><br/>A great process isn’t designed; it is evolved. So, the important thing isn’t your process; the important thing is your process for improving your process.