Boekrecensie Surfing the waves of agileTitel boek: Surfing the waves of Agile
Auteurs: Derk-Jan de Grood

Three maturity stages of agile and how to coach each of them

Agile is often still regarded as a monolith: whether you work agile or not. The first successes however were reported in teams close to the market, working on smaller, stand-alone products. When medium and large organizations adopted the agile philosophy, they struggled with coordination and keeping the right mindset. This is where agile coaches were asked to step in. In this book, one of those coaches presents a model that helps to structure and understand the agile journey. The book delivers a lot of coaching tips, tricks, and tables to the target audiences, namely agile coaches and members of the leadership team.

The agile journey in medium and large organizations

Agile is about delivering value to the customer. Several aspects of this value are described, like the possibility to control delivery and the ability to adapt services and subscriptions. In larger organizations the agile way of working comes with challenges, for instance, technical debt, undermining predictability, and the fact that teams working in big programs have no ownership of an end-to-end solution. A three-wave model is presented:

  1. the first wave – teams master agile basics
  2. the second wave – focus on releases
  3. the third wave – focus on business and delivery

Each of these is accompanied by its own challenges.

How-to: a couple of topics important in the third wave

To prevent many issues, there should be role clarity between product owners, scrum masters, and agile leaders. An impressive overview of the responsibilities of the distinct roles is presented and discussed in the “role distribution overview”. On planning the work and managing dependencies also an extensive overview is given. Built-in quality (BIQ), the third topic, is discussed comprehensively, for instance by an elegant extension of the XP feedback loop model with managerial aspects.


The book holds many big lists and tables, well written and useful. Different from what one of the chapter titles suggests, the book mainly focuses on the third wave – which, agreed, is the most challenging one.

What’s in it for the targeted audiences and the project manager?

On the cover of this book, there is a squirrel surfing the waves. According to the author, this animal is a symbol of agility, riding the waves described in this book. Leaving apart that a squirrel highly prefers trees above waves, by extending this metaphor the book itself can be regarded as the squirrel’s surfboard. Agile coaches will find it to be a super surfboard, with lots of interesting knowledge, experience, and views. To members of the leadership team, the other targeted audience, as well as to project managers, the board definitely is helpful to understand the world of agile coaches. However, to these audiences, the board is too (information-)heavy to keep your department or project on track on the raging agile waves. Other books, like “De 10 mythes van agile werken” (in Dutch), provide more content applicable to their worlds.

Een bijdrage van

IPMA NL nieuwsbriefMeinte Wildschut werkt vanuit “change driven projectmanagement”. Projecten zijn voor hem instrumenten om verandering te faciliteren: de uitkomst van het project creëert nieuwe kansen voor de organisatie. Hij heeft een master degree in projectmanagement. Meinte werkt als projectleider bij NS en heeft ruime ervaring in het vak.

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