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Wild West to Agile

Adventures in software development evolution and revolution

60 Years of Software Progress: A Pioneer’s Personal History

To prepare for a turbulent future, you must understand the past. In Wild West to Agile, legendary agilist, author, and storyteller Jim Highsmith shares a deeply personal history of the “software adventurers” who envisioned the future and the evolution and revolution they inspired.  

Highsmith’s six-decade business and tech career encompassed “The Wild West” (1966-1979), “Structured Methods and Monumental Methodologies” (1980s), “The Roots of Agile” (1990s), and “The Agile Era” (2001-present). For each era, he braids together personal stories and insightful context, illuminating both change and continuity in methods, methodologies, and mindsets.

Like the best creative nonfiction, this is a true story well told. You’ll find it utterly compelling—whether you were there and want to reminisce, or you’re part of a newer generation who wants to know how on Earth we got here.

  • Travel through four eras of software development history
  • Understand the roots of and the evolution of the Agile movement
  • Recognize what rogue teams and courageous leaders have to teach us
  • Learn  about digital transformation in an accelerating world

Pre-order on Amazon

Book Testimonials

“Jim Highsmith is the Forrest Gump of software development. What made the 1994 movie so entertaining was how frequently Forrest found himself in the right spot as history was being made. Unlike Forrest, though, Jim’s actions influenced that history.” 
-Mike Cohn, Co-Founder of the Agile Alliance, and the Scrum Alliance; author of Succeeding with Agile.

“If you want to understand the shape of software development today, this is the book for you. If you want to understand how to navigate a turbulent career with grace & style, this is also the book for you. If you enjoy memoirs, ditto. Enjoy his story.”
-Kent Beck, Chief Scientist, Mechanical Orchard; Author, Extreme Programming Explained

“This entire journey—beginning with the Wild West era of software development through the Agile Era to today’s Digital Transformation era—is entirely empowered by people.  Thank you, Jim, for sharing these beautiful stories and honoring the people that were a part of this amazing journey. -Heidi J. Musser,  Board Member, Vice President and CIO, USAA, retired

“I’ve always felt that understanding history is important, because it’s hard to understand where we are unless you understand the path that we took to get here. Jim’s memoir is an entertaining and astute odyssey through this history.”
-Martin Fowler, Chief Scientist, Thoughtworks