Becoming Agile
... in an imperfect world

Greg Smith and Ahmed Sidky

May 2009 | 408 pages | B&W
ISBN: 1933988258

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Agile principles have been a breath of fresh air to many development teams stuck in the middle of a rigid, process-driven environment. Unfortunately, it's not so easy to bring Agile into an existing organization with established people and practices. Becoming Agile shows you practical techniques and strategies to move from your existing process to an Agile process without starting from scratch.

Many books discuss Agile from a theoretical or academic perspective. Becoming Agile takes a different approach and focuses on explaining Agile from a ground-level point-of-view. Author Greg Smith, a certified ScrumMaster with dozens of Agile projects under his belt, presents Agile principles in the context of a case study that flows throughout the book.

Becoming Agile focuses on the importance of adapting Agile principles to the realities of your environment. While Agile purists have often discouraged a "partial-Agile" approach, the reality is that in many shops a "purist" approach simply isn't a viable option. Over the last few years, Agile authorities have begun to discover that the best deployments of Agile are often customized to the specific situation of a given company.

As well, Becoming Agile addresses the cultural realities of deploying Agile and how to deal with the needs of executives, managers, and the development team during migration. The author discusses employee motivation and establishing incentives that reward support of Agile techniques.

Becoming Agile will show you how to create a custom Agile process that supports the realities of your environment. The process will minimize risk as you transition to Agile iteratively, allowing time for your culture and processes to acclimate to Agile principles.



Greg Smith is a certified ScrumMaster and a Senior Project Manager. Greg is also an instructor of Agile Project Management at Bellevue Community College. Greg has over 20 years of experience as a development manager, project manager, business analyst, and product manager. He has worked for large conglomerates, tiny start-ups, and medium size companies including: Philips Electronics, R.R. Donnelley, Oh Boy! Oberto, and the Seattle Times New Media group. Greg helps companies create a custom agile process that supports the realities of their environment. Greg's focus has been on iteratively migrating a company to agile and actively involving the development team in the process. This background has given him insight into what it takes to sustain an agile culture and process over time.

Dr. Ahmed Sidky guides organizations during their transition to agile software development. His research includes a value-based agile measurement index, known as the Sidky Agile Measurement Index, and a process framework for the adoption of agile practices. Dr. Sidky developed Dr. Agile (, an online readiness assessment tool that helps guide organizations aspiring to adopt agile practices. He has worked as a software developer at some of the largest software firms in the Middle East and holds a Masters degree in Software Engineering from Virginia Tech (USA) with a research focus on Requirements Engineering and a doctorate in Agile Software Development Methodologies and Process Improvement. Dr. Sidky is a frequent speaker at international agile conferences.


“ those living in large organizations it will be "just what the doctor ordered!”
Brad Appleton,

“...assumes that the purchaser is considering employing the technologies described within the context of a real corporate environment with existing strengths and limitations, an existing approach to the problems addressed, and cultural biases concerning the adoption of new technologies.”
Ira Laefsky, Slashdot review

“I now have a more agile practice and would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for the same...5/5 stars.”
Stephen Robillard, DZone Review

“Becoming Agile is not another book to be classified in the existing ones handling agile practices, it's one of the rare writings which will go with you in the adoption and setup/migration to an agile process...This real must-have agilist's bedside book reads very well and will accompany you in your migration agile practices...”
Eric Siber,

“I believe that this book is a mandatory read for anyone who wants to become a member of the agile community...I really recommend this book to everyone that already is or wants to enter the agile world.”
Jan Sokol, Technical Team Leader, enprovia

“This is much more than just a book about Agile. This is a roadmap. A very detailed roadmap that takes you from the initial "is Agile right for me?" stage through completion and delivery of your pilot project and beyond.”
Charlie Griefer, Senior Software Engineer, Amcom Technology

“...a must read for those of us who have come from years of waterfall and attempts at changes to "traditional" methodologies or processes... clear, concise and has plenty of example scenarios that many individuals and corporations would identify with.”
Jamie Phillips, Senior Software Engineer, Picis Inc

“This book is quite unique. It is written in a form of a 5-day training course. I am usually not a fan of such a writing style, but I think that Becoming Agile is an exception. It's about a software process and as such requires a lot of case studies, group exercises (or at least what a book format allows), and therefore the training course style is perfect to facilitate learning.”
Vladimir Pasman,

“Becoming Agile in an Imperfect World offers a different and useful look at Agile methods. Reminding us that becoming agile is more of a mindset adjustment than a process change, Sidky and Smith use a case study to share their insights and tools throughout the book, including the unique Sidky Agile Measurement Index (SAMI).”
—Sanjiv Augustine, President, LitheSpeed LLC and author of Managing Agile Projects

“The authors emphasise that the aim should be to create a customised agile development process that is tailored to the needs of the organisation...Instead of aiming for "agile perfection", one should aim at reaching the right level of agility for one's organisation. Excellent advice!”
Kailash Awati, Eight to Late

“The book totally inspired me. A lot of my readings on Agile from back in the day were very theoretical and high level at the same time. But Becoming Agile helps take you to the next level by going beyond the theory and into the nitty gritty practicality of employing the Agile approach. So it was very energizing having the game plan laid out in front of you, as well as the hurdles you'll encounter and how to overcome them.”
Tariq Ahmed, author of Flex 3 in Action