A Seat at the Table – Book review

Are you looking for a book that goes beyond Scrum , KANBAN or XP practices?

Do you want some answers about the real world challenges while trying to be agile?

Are you seeking ways of how to convince people that agile is the only way to sustain in today’s era?

If your answer is Yes to all these questions then this is the book for you – A Seat at the Table by Schwartz

taken from amazon.com

Schwartz has written this book covering many practical challenges which we face in our day to day agile world. In the first few chapters he made important statements like IT is business and business is IT. Though we often  hear or say this statement  in conferences or meetups but Schwartz in his book had given convincing example to actually hit this idea to our mind.

He brought out the real meaning of Agile approach by writing


The essence of Agile approaches is simply this: we should inspect and adapt frequently rather than slavishly following a plan.

As Agilists, we always try to convey this message to the organizations, stakeholders or teams but we often fail.
But Schwatrz made this statement more convincing by saying that

Agile approaches also encourage making plans. They discourage measuring success by adherence to those plans, arguing that business value cannot be maximized by sticking to plans that are made at the beginning of a project, when the least amount of information is known

Schwatrz suggested very useful ways of defining success for agility like

  • Short cycle time for delivery
  • Frequent deployment of 100% complete and high quality capabilities
  • Measurable business outcome
  • Contribution to the overall Enterprise IT asset

Adhering to one of the principles of Agile Manifesto

Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential

the author wrote that the teams can hit the schedule milestones by not doing the work which are not really needed.

Many times we forget about the concept of minimal viable product and we try to build all possible features in a product before releasing it.

We fail to prioritize the most essential requirements for a product to work. In such scenarios the teams often fail to deliver on time.

While writing about the risks of developing products, Schwartz quoted Jim Highsmith

Traditional teams attempt to drive out uncertainty by planning and analysis.

Agile teams tend to drive out uncertainty by developing working software in small increments and then adjusting

I felt this is one of the best way someone can explain about dealing with risks in today’s ever-changing world. Agility is the answer to the questions of risk and uncertainty. The sooner an organization is able to understand this, the faster it will move towards being agile

Everywhere you read about the review of this book , mostly you would find that this book has been written focusing on the IT leadership. But I believe it is very important for each and every person of an organization to read this book to understand how things are changing in the modern world and what benefits the changed things can bring to an organization to respond faster to the market.

This book has plenty of references from renowned authors and their books to help the readers dig deeper and increase their knowledge base on Agile thinking, Lean thinking, Devops etc.

For the change agents who are on the journey of Agile transformation I would say this is a must read book because this book will give you lot of insights on how to tackle real life scenarios. It will give you food for thoughts on how to change people’s mindset towards being agile

I have read the book in Safari. You can read it in kindle if you like ebooks or buy the hard copy, available in Amazon

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s