Author: Curt Hibbs, Steve Jewett & Mike Sullivan
Publisher: O'Reilly, 2009
Aimed at: Agile and lean beginners
Pros: A very short overview
Cons: Not a deep discussion of lean techniques
Reviewed by: Andrew Johnson
Whenever I see a book with "lean software development" in the title I ask myself is it the software that is lean or the development? In this case it is the book!
At just over 100 pages with lots of photos, quotes and other space fillers you can't expect much information and there is very little here that is actually specific to lean software development.
The book opens with a chapter on what is wrong with software development and the waterfall method in particular. The whole idea of agile programming is introduced along with the various agile methodologies. Then we have a definition and discussion of the lean mindset and some jargon explained. If you already know Agile this is a useful way to find out what "lean" bolts on to what you already know. By the end of the chapter, however, you may not be convinced that lean adds very much.
Chapter Two attempts to apply the ideas to real software development. The most useful part of the chapter is the discussion of Lean versus Agile and this should confirm to you that Lean is a state of mind with a few recommended practices.
Chapter Three extols the virtues of source code management and scripted builds - very little new here. Chapter Four covers automated testing and, again, if you are familiar with the subject from elsewhere there is nothing particularly "lean" about this account. Chapter Five follows on with a similarly standard account of continuous integration.
Chapter Six, however, deals with "less code" which has to be a lean topic even if it is fairly obvious- after all who wants code for code's sake? Chapter Seven returns to agile territory with "short iterations" and Chapter Eight deals with customer participation.
The final chapter is ostensibly a guide to where to go next to develop your interest in lean methods but in fact it is the most specific to the lean methodology. It covers Kaizen workshops, Value stream maps, Root cause analysis and Kanban.
For a book about lean programming this one tends to spend most of its time explaining agile and other methodologies in a way that you could find in almost any other book on programming methods. Its main advantage is that it will introduce you to a lot of ideas in a few pages - you could read it in a single sitting. So if you know little about agile and nothing about lean you might well find that this make a good "first reader". It certainly isn't an in depth study of anything and its isn't practical or hands-on. There are also better motivational books if your real interest is in discovering the agile method.