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Agile and Lean Program Management


Cover image for Agile and Lean Program Management

Agile and Lean Program Management


Scaling process creates bloat. Dictating how to work to teams doesn’t work. What does? Servant leadership, autonomy, collaboration, and exploration. In this pragmatic and down-to-earth book, you’ll apply agile and lean principles to program management. If you’re a program manager, program product owner, or program architect, you’ll use servant leadership to enable the entire program’s success. If you’re part of a feature team, you’ll learn which measurements to provide to the program and what to expect of the program teams. You’ll use continuous planning, frequent deliverables, and agile and lean principles to deliver your product.

This work was written and produced entirely by the author. We are proud to be distributing it.

Customer Reviews

The real world presents uncomfortable challenges: non-agile teams must be included in agile programs, features will have dependencies across many teams and systems, people (even good people) will fail to meet commitments, etc. This book provides a unique blend of thought-provoking anecdotes and successful patterns for scaling collaboration. This is a great read for program managers and leaders in large organizations.

- Catherine Swetel

Principal Consultant

Read this book, then gift it to your boss. Your boss will thank you. Agile isn’t just about better programming, or better stand-ups. There’s a whole lotta important stuff that goes on up front, before projects start executing, and it’s invisible to most people. This beautifully written book shows how to do that work in an agile way.

- Clarke Ching

Author of "Rolling Rocks Downhill, The Agile Business Novel (that never mentions Agile)"

Agile and Lean Program Management is a must-read for project and program managers. Johanna weaves together deep personal insights, pragmatic advice, and personal tips on how to influence and motivate others towards agile program success. Concepts are presented in a crisp, easy-to-read style that leaves you thinking, “Of course! That is such a clear, simple approach!” This is a book that will surprise and inspire. And you will want to refer back to it frequently as your agile program evolves.

- Declan Whelan

Agile Coach, Leanintuit

Agile and Lean Program Management provides the practical and principled advice to make your large product efforts a success. Johanna wisely avoids the confusion and misdirection of contemporary conversations around “scaling agile.” She also avoids hierarchies, strict role definitions, and building a giant process machine. This allows Agile and Lean Program Management to focus on what’s really important for any large product effort: effective communication, clear expectations, customer focus, collaboration, and acting from principles. Johanna strikes an excellent balance between the practical and the theoretical here—and achieves a conversational tone even when diving into the latter. This book feels like sitting down with a trusted colleague to chat and get some guidance on ideas, patterns, and solutions.

- Gary Pedretti

Agile Trainer and Owner, Sodoto Solutions

How do you scale Agile software practices (best suited for single teams of 5-10 developers) to larger programs spanning multiple disciplines and multiple teams? This is the most useful description I have seen: Johanna shows how you can apply the principles of Lean and Agile software development with actionable, pragmatic techniques to deliver the value your customers desire.

- Ian Brockbank

Agile Architect and Program Manager, and blogger, Cirrus Logic

Johanna has created an excellent guide to managing large (a.k.a. enterprise) projects. By taking the large, often unwieldy, concepts and placing them in an experienced agile/lean context, she makes the information accessible and provides the roadmap you need to keep your organization on track and effective.

- Jared Richardson

Principal Consultant, Agile Artisans

In Agile and Lean Program Management, Johanna does a wonderful job of blending tried and true concepts for modern software program delivery with newer models and ideas. And, as always, she does a great job providing practical, pragmatic approaches to using the ideas she provides. A must-read for anyone who is either responsible for, or impacted by, the planning or delivery of multi-team software initiatives.

- Matt Barcomb

Directing Principal, Tidal River Consulting

Johanna Rothman’s new book is the definitive guide to program management in the agile and lean world. I found it invaluable in crystallizing in my mind how to marry agile and lean principles to program management. It’s a book that you will turn to when somebody asks you a tricky question that you know will be better articulated by Johanna.

- Owain Griffiths

Principal Consultant, ThoughtWorks

This is the book for everyone who is considering how to “scale” their lean/agile processes to work in large programs. Johanna provides straightforward and practical advice on how to go from single project/simple product agile implementation to large, complex programs while retaining the core of agility and lean thinking. She takes us back to the fundamental principles of agile and lean and shows how to use those principles as a foundation for true organizational agility, building products that need multiple teams with different interdependent streams of work while retaining the adaptability and responsiveness that is at the core of lean and agile thinking.

- Shane Hastie

Chief Knowledge Engineer and Agile Practice Lead, Software Education

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Contents & Extracts

  • Praise Quotes
  • Acknowledgments
  • Foreword
  • Introduction
  • 1. Defining Agile and Lean Program Management
  • 2. Consider Your Program Context excerpt
  • 3. Organize Your Program Teams
  • 4. Start Your Program Right
  • 5. Use Continuous Planning excerpt
  • 6. Create an Environment of Delivery
  • 7. Encourage Autonomy, Collaboration, and Exploration
  • 8. Conduct Useful Meetings for Your Program
  • 9. Estimating Program Schedule or Cost
  • 10. Useful Measurements in an Agile and Lean Program
  • 11. Develop Your Servant Leadership
  • 12. Shepherd the Agile Architecture excerpt
  • 13. Solve Program Problems
  • 14. Integrating Hardware Into Your Program
  • 15. Troubleshooting Agile Team Issues
  • 16. Integrating Agile and Not-Agile Teams in Your Program
  • 17. What to Do If Agile and Lean Are Not Right for You
  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Glossary
  • More from Johanna


Johanna Rothman consults, speaks, and writes on managing high-technology product development. She has helped managers, teams, and organizations to become more effective by applying her pragmatic approaches to their issues of hiring, project management, risk management, and people management.

She’s the author of Predicting the Unpredictable: Pragmatic Approaches to Estimating Project Schedule or Cost, Manage Your Job Search, Hiring Geeks That Fit, Manage Your Project Portfolio: Increase Your Capacity and Finish More Projects, Manage It! Your Guide to Modern Pragmatic Project Management, and Behind Closed Doors: Secrets of Great Management.

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