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Only the Hits – Our Best Agile Blog Posts of 2021

The most popular agile blog posts from 2021

Anthony Mersino

January 2, 2022

11:22 AM

Are you looking for some great agile articles? Look no further because here they are! Listed below are the 10 most popular articles on our website this past year. Of the 200 or so posts on our site, these were the most visited and bookmarked pages. Check out the list and the key takeaways from each.

The Best Agile Blogs of 2021

#1 – The 5 Best Agile Books for 2021

Our post about the 5 best agile books for 2021 topped the list for best agile blog

This article was published early in 2021 and it is our most popular article by far! I am glad so many people like to read!!! It is not just a list of 5 books – I’ve actually created a list of 5 Best Agile Books specific to each of the following audiences:

  1. Scrum Masters
  2. Product Owners
  3. Agile Coaches
  4. Managers and Leaders

Key Takeaways: If I could offer one piece of advice to agile practitioners it would be this – read! Training and hands on experience are great but reading is like a force multiplier.

PS: Look for an update of this article in the early part of 2022 – the current best agile books for 2022!

#2 – Free Agile and Scrum Cheat Sheet

Agile and Scrum Cheat Sheet

Who doesn’t like free stuff, am I right? This handy desk reference includes not only the Agile Values and Principles but an overview of the Scrum Roles and Scrum Events. Our Agile and Scrum Cheat Sheet was revised this year to include the updates from the 2020 Scrum Guide. And did I mention it is free? Check out the post or follow this link to download yours: Agile and Scrum Cheat Sheet.

Key Takeaway: Everyone wants to be agile but not everyone is familiar with the Agile Values and Agile Principles. Improve your agile IQ by keeping this tip sheet handy and sharing it with your team members.

#3 – What is the Optimal Number of Members of an Agile or Scrum Team?

Optimal Agile Team Size for High Performance

This post made the list of best agile posts because it answers a question that many people ask – how big should the team be? It explores the relationship between team size and performance. And if you are too busy to read the article, the answer to the question is either “it depends” or “5 to 6” team members.

Key Takeaway: Bigger isn’t better when it comes to Agile Teams. You probably already know that from your own experience. There is a sweet spot for high-performing teams of about 5 to 6 team members.

#4 – Agile Projects Are More Successful than Traditional Projects

2020 agile vs waterfall project success rates

Coming in at number four on the list of best agile blog posts is our article on project success rates based on research from the Standish Group. In their most 2020 publication of the Chaos Studies, they revealed that projects using Agile are 3X more likely to succeed than those using waterfall or traditional approaches. And projects that use traditional approaches are 2.5X more likely to fail.

Key Takeaways: If you want to succeed, you can improve your odds by using agile ways of working instead of more traditional approaches. Don’t try to combine the two and don’t follow traditional approaches disguised as agile.

#5 – What is Agile and Why is it Important?

what is agile and why is agile important

Many people found this article to be helpful. It starts with a brief look at the modern use of the word agile which can be traced back to 2001 and a meeting of software development thought leaders in Snowbird Utah. These thought leaders met to talk about how to improve software development and they created the Manifesto for Agile Software Development which sparked a mini-revolution. In the 20 years since it was published, the agile movement has dramatically changed things for the better. Learn more about the origin story for Agile in this popular article.

Key Takeaway: Though Agile has been around for 20 years, not everyone is familiar with the origin story and why agile approaches are so important to the way work is completed today.

#6 – 5 Tips to Improve Your Product Backlog Refinement


Backlog refinement is the ongoing process of breaking future product backlog items down into small, digestible chunks. Teams find that an ongoing investment in backlog refinement helps to smooth Sprint Planning and results in more predictable velocity and outcomes. This article provides the following five tips teams can use to improve this important practice:

  1. Use a Definition of Ready
  2. Get the Right People in the Discussion
  3. Use Good Facilitation and Timeboxes
  4. Invest in Pre-work prior to a backlog refinement session
  5. Use Story Point Estimation to Test for Team Understanding

Key Takeaway: Good backlog refinement practices will improve team predictability and productivity and help to avoid thrashing and chaos. Some teams dread backlog refinement or avoid it. But with a few tools and skillful facilitation, you can improve your refinement process and overall productivity.

#7 – There is No Spotify Model for Scaling Agile

There is no Spotify Model

Everyone loves a good agile hero story and Spotify is the one everyone has been citing since 2012. Several of the coaches at Spotify published glowing videos and articles about the novel ideas and agile approaches that were being tested out at the growing startup music company. Spotify evolved yet many people were trying to copy the version of Spotify that was published back in 2012.

Key Takeaway: This article made the list of best agile blog posts because so many people believe they can achieve what Spotify did. Don’t try to copy or emulate what has worked for someone else. Run your own experiments and learn as an organization. Evolve and keep improving incrementally and collaboratively.

#8 – What is the Leaders Role in Agile Transformation

agile leaders role in agile transformation

Leaders play a key role in an agile transformation. In fact, the Annual State of Agile Reports from Collabnet always cites a lack of leadership among the key reasons that agile initiatives fail. This article provides an overview of agile transformation and describes the characteristics of Agile Leaders as well as an action plan for agile leaders.

Key Takeaways: Here are the 4 key activities of an agile leader:

  1. Establish High-Performing Teams
  2. Shape the Environment for Success
  3. Coach People
  4. Leaders Lead Organizational Change

#9 – What is the Business Analyst Role in Scrum?

One More Time What is the Business Analyst Role in Scrum2

Speaking of important roles in agile transformation, one that often proves tricky is the business analyst role. Business Analysts can be strong contributors to the Scrum Team provided they are willing to work as a team member and not try to cling to a specialist or outsider role.

Key Takeaway: The Scrum Guide has always discouraged “specialist” roles in Scrum. Let go of your title and your discrete list of things you will or will not do and simply embrace being a leader and individual team member. Just like all the other team members.

#10 – How to User Story

how to user story

Rounding out the top 10 is this tongue-in-cheek look at user stories and specifically, some of the dysfunctions teams experience when they use User Stories for their backlog items. User stories can be a powerful tool for viewing business needs. And they are optional – some agile teams get on just fine without every using User Stories.

Key Takeaway: Don’t replicate your traditional requirements gathering process by simply calling things user stories. User stories are a powerful tool that supports just in time requirements gathering.

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