Accelerate by Forsgren et al - book review.

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Accelerate became a classic book describing what makes a high performing IT department. Most IT books talk about successful concepts, but not many of them have science to back their claims up.

Accelerate is different in that regard - it has a more solid scientific grounding and its content is based on a multi-year research project.

The book consists of three parts.

  • The first part describes the results of the conducted studies.
  • The second part describes how to do proper scientific surveys.
  • The third part describes how ING (a Dutch bank) uses practices from Accelerate to their advantage.

Part one and part three are of special interest for an IT practitioner. Part two is interesting, but more of interest when you want to do some scientific social studies.


  • Let’s focus on outcome vs output (Bad: Lines of code, Good: small deploy-to-live timespan)
  • Main metrics to measure in your startup: delivery-lead-time, deployment-frequency, time-to-restore-service, and change-fail-rate.
  • Outsource non-strategic software and insource strategic software (Wardley Mapping Method)
  • “Who is on a team matters less than how the team members interact, structure their work, and view their contributions” (Google 2015)
  • Accident investigations that stop at “human error” are not just bad but dangerous. Human error should, instead, be the start of the investigation.
  • Continuous delivery is important
  • Computers perform repetitive tasks - people solve problems
  • Making teams independent is important (also to decentralize decision making)
  • Important management practices: Limiting work-in-progress, Creating visual displays with important quality and productivity metrics, Using data to make decisions
  • Burnout is a problem - and can be very costly - $300 billion per year in sick time, long-term disability, and excessive job turnover (Maslach).
  • Employee engagement is a key metric to measure (measure eg the eNPS)
  • Diverse teams bring better results
  • Transactional leadership is important: Vision, Inspirational communication, Intellectual Stimulation, Supportive Leadership, Personal recognition


There is a lot more to the book than the points I mentioned above. Simple verdict: Must read. Get your copy.


Accelerate: The Science of Lean Software and DevOps: Building and Scaling High Performing Technology Organizations by Nicole Forsgren PhD, Jez Humble, Gene Kim