Home > Store

Being Agile: Eleven Breakthrough Techniques to Keep You from "Waterfalling Backward"

Register your product to gain access to bonus material or receive a coupon.

Being Agile: Eleven Breakthrough Techniques to Keep You from "Waterfalling Backward"


  • Sorry, this book is no longer in print.
Not for Sale


  • Copyright 2014
  • Dimensions: 7" x 9-1/8"
  • Edition: 1st
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-13-337562-5
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-13-337562-6

Break the Old, Waterfall Habits that Hinder Agile Success:

Drive Rapid Value and Continuous Improvement

When agile teams don’t get immediate results, it’s tempting for them to fall back into old habits that make success even less likely. In Being Agile, Leslie Ekas and Scott Will present eleven powerful techniques for rapidly gaining substantial value from agile, making agile methods stick, and launching a “virtuous circle” of continuous improvement.

Drawing on their experience helping more than 100 teams transition to agile, the authors review its key principles, identify corresponding practices, and offer breakthrough approaches for implementing them. Using their techniques, you can break typical waterfall patterns and go beyond merely “doing agile” to actually thinking and being agile.

Ekas and Will help you clear away silos, improve stakeholder interaction, eliminate waste and waterfall-style inefficiencies, and lead the agile transition far more successfully. Each of their eleven principles can stand on its own: when you combine them, they become even more valuable.

Coverage includes

  • Building “whole teams” that cut across silos and work together throughout a product’s lifecycle
  • Engaging product stakeholders earlier and far more effectively
  • Overcoming inefficient “waterations” and “big batch” waterfall thinking
  • Getting past the curse of multi-tasking
  • Eliminating dangerous technical and project debt
  • Repeatedly deploying “release-ready” software in real user environments
  • Delivering what customers really need, not what you think they need
  • Fixing the root causes of problems so they don’t recur
  • Learning from experience: mastering continuous improvement
  • Assessing whether you’re just “doing agile” or actually “being agile”

Being Agile will be indispensable for all software professionals now adopting agile; for coaches, managers, engineers, and team members who want to get more value from it and for students discovering it for the first time.

Sample Content

Online Sample Chapter

Agile Breakthrough Techniques to Keep You from "Waterfalling Backward": Whole Teams

Sample Pages

Download the sample pages (includes Chapter 1 and Index)

Table of Contents


Preface     xviii

Acknowledgements     xxi

Introduction By Leslie Ekas     1

Who This Book Is For     1

What Is Our Approach?     1

What Does This Book Cover?     3

An Overview Of The Content     4

What Do You Have To Do?     6

What Benefits Can You Get from Reading This Book?     6

Who Are We?     6

Join the Conversation     7

Chapter 1 Whole Teams     9

Being agile requires whole teams because the synergy derived from cross-disciplined and cross-component

teams working together enables teams to be more productive than working in isolation. By Leslie Ekas

Principles     10

   What Is a Whole Team?     10

   Why Are Whole Teams Hard to Create?     11

   Cross-Component Teams     11

   Cross-Discipline Teams     12

   Cross-Geographical, Cross-Cultural, Large Teams     13

   Stable, Dedicated, and Protected     14

Practices     16

   Start with Whole Teams     16

   Maintain and Protect Dedicated Teams     16

   The Conversation     17

   Share the Same Truth     19

   No Partial Credit     19

   Offer Help     20

Metrics     20

Breakthrough     21

Summary     22

Chapter 2 Active Stakeholder Interaction     25

Being agile requires active stakeholder interaction because only your stakeholders can confirm that what you create actually meets their needs. By Scott Will

Principles     26

   What Is Active Stakeholder Interaction?     26

   Why Can It Be Hard to Get Active Stakeholder Interaction?     27

   Stakeholder Interaction Is Not a New Idea     29

   Stakeholder Interaction Is Not Optional     29

   Do What’s Needed—And No More     30

Practices     31

   Identifying Stakeholders     31

   Review Epics with Stakeholders     33

   Set Expectations     33

   Stakeholders Should Have Skin in the Game     34

   Make Stakeholder Interaction Compelling for Your Customers     35

   Doing Regular Demonstrations     35

   Reacting to Feedback Received     36

   When Is the Development Organization a Stakeholder?     37

   Customer Support Teams as Stakeholders     38

   Working with Customers in Countries Other Than Your Own     39

Metrics     39

Breakthrough     40

Summary     42

Chapter 3 Queuing Theory     43

Being agile requires embracing queuing theory practices because teams achieve greater efficiency and throughput by leveraging a steady flow of small work items. By Scott Will

Principles     44

   Why Does Waterfall Thinking Still Linger?     44

   Small Batches of Coordinated Work     45

   Frequent Feedback     46

   Ensure Sufficient Capacity     46

Practices     47

   Small Task Sizes: 4 Hours, 8 Hours, 16 Hours     47

   One User Story at a Time     48

   Short Iterations     49

   Metrics Should Support the Focus on Working Software     50

Metrics     50

Breakthrough     51

Summary     51

Chapter 4 No Multitasking     53

Being agile requires teams to avoid multitasking because teams are more productive when they focus. By Scott Will

Principles     55

   One Thing at a Time Is More Efficient     55

   Flow     56

   Stop Starting; Start Finishing     57

Practices     57

   Team Members Are Dedicated to a Project 100% of the Time     57

   One Project at a Time     58

   Be a “Firewall” and Stop Being a “Fast-Forward” Button     58

   Pair Programming; Pair Testing     59

   Calendar Ruthlessness     59

Metrics     60

Breakthrough     61

Summary     62

Chapter 5 Eliminate Waste     63

Being agile requires eliminating waste to realize significant efficiency, productivity, and quality gains. By Leslie Ekas

Principles     64

What Is Eliminating Waste?     64

   Why the Focus on Eliminating Waste?     65

   Technical Debt     65

   Project Debt     67

   Why Is It Hard to Eliminate Waste?     67

Practices     69

   Get Rid of Waste... One Way or Another     69

   Small Tasks     70

   Build Quality In     71

   Focus on Customer Value     72

   Expand “Done!” Criteria     73

   Handling Latent Defects     74

   Stop Writing Defect Records     74

Metrics     75

Breakthrough     76

Summary     77

Chapter 6 Working Software     79

Being agile requires always having working software because it validates progress, ensures the highest levels of quality, and enables regular feedback. By Leslie Ekas

Principles     80

   What Is Working Software?     80

   Why Is It Hard to Regularly Have Working Software?     82

   Working Software Extends Test Suites     82

Practices     83

   Short Iterations     83

   Continuous Integration and Automation     84

   Vertically Sliced Stories     85

   Evolutionary Architecture and Emergent Design     86

   In-House Deploys     88

Metrics     89

Breakthrough     89

Summary     91

Chapter 7 Deliver Value     93

Being agile requires delivering real value so that customers succeed with your product. By Scott Will

Principles     94

   Why User Stories?     94

Practices    97

   The “So That” Clause     97

   Vertically Sliced Stories     98

   Acceptance Criteria     99

   Using Velocity Effectively     100

Metrics     103

Breakthrough     103

   What Exactly Is a Zero-Gravity Thinker?     104

   A Real Example     106

   Zero Gravity Thinking in Sum...     106

Summary     107

Chapter 8 Release Often     109

Being agile requires releasing software often so that teams learn fast and customers succeed sooner. By Leslie Ekas

Principles     112

   Why Release Often?     112

   Do Just Enough     113

   Defer Commitment     114

   Why Can It Be Hard to Release Often?     116

Practices     117

   Start with Shorter Release Cycles     117

   Epic Stories     117

   Evolutionary Product Design     119

   High Value First     120

   High Risk First         121

   Value-Driven Development: the Outworking of Frequent Code Drops     123

Metrics     124

Breakthrough     125

Summary     128

Chapter 9 Stop the Line     129

Being agile requires that teams stop the line to solve critical problems at their core so that they do not lose time by dealing with the same problem again and again. By Leslie Ekas

Principles     130

   What Is Stop the Line?     130

   Why Is Stop the Line Hard?     131

Practices     133

   Fix Blockers     133

   Reflections as a Guide     133

   What if the Problem Is Too Big to Stop the Line?     133

Metrics     134

Breakthrough     139

Summary     141

Chapter 10 Agile Leadership     143

Being successful with agile requires leaders who learn, participate in, and experiment with agile so that they lead with an agile mindset and react with agile instincts. By Leslie Ekas

Principles     145

   Agile Leadership     145

   Why Is Agile Leadership Hard?     146

Practices     147

   Learn Agile, Experience Agile, Develop Agile Instincts     147

   Enable and Protect     148

   Help Your Team Learn, Let Your Team Fail     149

   Set Priorities, Provide Boundaries, and Let the Team Figure Out How     151

   A Single, Visible View of the Truth     153

Metrics     154

Breakthrough     154

Summary     155

Chapter 11 Continuous Improvement     157

Being agile requires continuous improvement because teams that continue to learn, adapt, and evolve are more productive and competitive. Agile is a never-ending journey of getting better. By Scott Will

Principles     158

   Why Is Continuous Improvement Important?     158

   Why Is Continuous Improvement Hard?     159

   There Is No Such Thing as “100 Percent Agile”     159

   Realize That You Will Learn New Things as a Project Progresses     160

   You Need to Set Time Aside to Sharpen Your Axe     160

   Focus on Small, On-Going Improvements     161

   Learn from Your Mistakes; Don’t Make Them Again     162

   Fail Fast     162

   Management Needs to Actively Promote Innovation     162

Practices     164

   Reflections     164

   Value Stream Mapping     166

   Addressing Reluctance     167

   The “Art” of Continuous Improvement     167

   Share     169

Metrics     169

Breakthrough     169

Summary      170

Appendix By Scott Will     173

Exploring Your Agility: A Brief, Annotated Questionnaire     173

What Would You Be Willing to Give Up?     174

Questions on Various Agile Practices     175

   How Long Are Your Iterations?     175

   How Often Do You Build?     176

   What Disciplines Are on Your Teams?     176

   Do You Carry a Defect Backlog?     176

   What Do You Automate?     177

   Do You Conduct Status Meetings?     177

   Are You Delivering Value to Your Customers?     178

   Do You Get to “Done!” Each Iteration?      178

   Are You Getting Better?     178

Concluding Thoughts     178

Index     179


Submit Errata

More Information

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020