A story that sticks ... 

It really is an incredibly easy book to read, and you will come away with a better understanding than you’ll get from dipping to to pages of a reference book.
— R Dalton - amazon.co.uk

A book for you, your bosses, and your customers.

I was 45 when, after 10 years slaving away over a hot keyboard, I finally published Rolling Rocks Downhill.  

I wrote it for the 35 year-old me.  

It's the book I wish I had ten years earlier when I first attempted to convince the business and IT folk I worked with to give this mad -  but magnificent - Agile thing a shot.  Back then, as now, I worked mostly with banks and insurance companies, places where much of the software we worked on was older than I was, places where we had rules and methodologies that - although all of our projects were chronically late - actually made sense to us, at the time.  Most of my colleagues thought people like me, with our stand up meetings, funny words and sticky notes, were nuts.

And who could blame them?  Even today when you google "Agile", you find bucket-loads of advice and rules, new practices, and new words.  Unless you already understand all of these details it's bewildering, and off-putting.  It doesn't help that Agile is a work-in-progress and so, of course, some of the opinions change over time and some of the advice is contradictory.

The good news - what I wish 35 year old me knew - is that there are just a handful of very simple and fundamental principles which you need to know to understand how and why Agile works. These principles aren't new: they've been used in manufacturing for decades  and - perhaps surprisingly - they were used extensively - and successfully -  on big and small software development projects back in the 1960s and 1970s.

A book about Agile that NEVER mentions Agile.

RRD is not a technical book.  It doesn’t mention “Agile”. It doesn’t ram techniques and practices down your throat. It doesn't need to. 

RRD is a story.  As you read it, you'll feel like you're sitting on the characters' shoulders, watching them rediscover, then apply, the "vital few" logistic principles of commercial software development

By the end of the book you'll understand how to deliver software development projects on timeor early -  by running faster than you ever thought possible.  You'll know how to accelerate Lean and Agile projects using Eli Goldratt's TOC.  And, you'll know how to turn that speed and reliability into profit and respect.

If I did a good job then Rolling Rocks Downhill is the sort of book YOU read then YOU give to your bosses, your colleagues, and your customers because you need them to understand the ideas in it. Once they “get it”, once you ALL understand the "vital few" principles, putting them into practice is, well, it's like rolling rocks downhill ...

Clarke Ching,
A Kiwi in Scotland.

Johanna Rothman, Agile thought-leader.

Clarke delivers the goods with this business novel.

You might think this is impossible, or because it’s a business novel, this is fiction. It’s not. I’ve seen and coached normal people, on normal teams, working normal hours, as they transition to working in this way, complete projects again and again. Clarke shows you the secret sauce.

Do you want a way out of your insanity? Is it time for you to learn how to take control of your projects, and learn how you can release a product your customers want, when you want to release it, a product that works?

You can. Read Clarke’s Rolling Rocks Downhill. You will have many “aha” moments. You will say, “Now I get it!” This book will change how you look at projects and what you think you can do about the predicament you are in.

Have fun reading. I did.
— Johanna Rothman, author of Jolt Productivity award-winning Manage It! Your Guide to Modern, Pragmatic Project Management:

J. B. Rainsberger, Agile thought-leader

It’s so easy to get the “business novel” wrong, but Clarke has got it right here. I found his story engaging, I related to his characters, and I appreciated the clarity and simplicity of the story. I don’t know how many of my clients would take the time to read The Goal, but I will start insisting that they read Rolling Rocks Downhill—it strongly reinforces the essence of Agile software development that has been drowned in an ocean of process manuals, maturity models, and checklists.

Just as The Goal sought to bring common sense back to manufacturing, so this book seeks to bring common sense back to a software industry that sorely needs it.
— J. B. Rainsberger - author of JUnit Recipes:

Here's what readers think of Rolling Rocks Downhill:

A gemstone. You will quickly be immersed in the world of contemporary software development; its challenges and its solutions. You will be very tempted to implement new approaches without having to join a sect (Agile, Theory Of Constraints, Lean, Traditional Project Management …). The author won’t try to impress you with jargon (Scrum, Fever Chart, WBS …). He does not try to sell you his services since this is a work of love. He wrote it for his own pleasure and yours. He is quite happy doing it in his job as a developer of software for financial services. He just wants to share his passion, his immense curiosity for new ideas, and his results oriented focus. After reading this book you will know how to improve your performance…significantly.

Scottish common sense to make your software development faster and your new products better.

Buy it, read it, reread it and offer it to your friends and colleagues.
— Philip Marris - Paris, amazon.fr
Fans of storytelling as an effective communication vehicle for ideas will appreciate the effort Clarke has made here. Anyone who spends an evening with this book will take away valuable ideas to apply immediately, and an approachable way to explain them to their co-workers.
— David Robertson - amazon.com
Woof!  Thanks to Marc BURGAUER..

Woof!  Thanks to Marc BURGAUER..

As the Phoenix project is to the DevOps movement so is Rolling Rocks Downhill to Agile teams in pursuit of hyper productivity.
Ching nicely weaves TOC, Lean, Agile and engineering best practices in a relatable, enlightening and clever tale of an organization struggling to cope with the harsh realities of business and how they embrace (reluctantly ) a new way of thinking to beat almost insurmountable odds. A must read for Agile teams at any stage along their journey.
— David Pemberton - amazon.com
It is a difficult task to write an easy to read book that introduces a concept from one industry to another. Business novels aim to ensure nothing gets lost in the translation of concepts, ideals, and hope that the reader can realise the value of the endeavour. Rolling Rocks Downhill is a novel that has been a long time in the making, and thankfully Clarke has succeeded in writing a worthy TOC introduction that does not alienate veterans of either process.
— D.P - amazon.co.uk
This business novel, written in an engaging fashion, is filled with practical ideas to help software development teams make the transition to more agile software development methods as well as find solutions to the seemingly intractable choices that need to be made during a development process. It may not show you how to save money, but it will help you focus on ways to make more money.
— Jay Bakst - amazon.com
So if you’re looking for a great way to introduce people to or explain the concepts of Agile and Lean this is the best way I can think of. It’s not a course book, it’s a great story. Well written, with characters people can relate to, in a world they’ll instantly recognise.
If you were/are looking for a way to ask your boss to try Agile and couldn’t think of a way to get the message across - buy her/him this book :)
— "Amazon Customer" - amazon.co.uk
Makes understanding Theory of Constraints as easy as... well, rolling rocks downhill
— Colin - amazon.co.uk
Wow! Just finished @clarkeching’s “Rolling Rocks Downhill” Couldn’t put it down. Buy it, read it, share with your team. #agile #TOC #Lean
— Ian Brockbank, Software Leader, @badgertaming
I’ve read The Goal and The Phoenix Project and they’re both good, but this is better. A believable business novel that deals in a realistic way with real problems. You can read a longer review on my blog at http://claysnow.co.uk/rolling-rocks-downhill/ , but the conclusion is the same: read this book if you want to learn new approaches to improving software delivery.
— Seb - amazon.co.uk
Inspiring from the start, very well written management novel in the spirit of (The Goal - which it recommends to no end) and The Phoenix Project (Which could learn a thing or two from Ching’s writing style). A book that stays with you whenever you have to find a solution to deliver the relevant features fast.
— Hans - amazon.co.uk
Written as a business novel in the style of Eliyahu Goldratt’s book “The Goal” (which has clearly had a major influence on Clarke Ching’s thinking), it’s easier to read than a text book and somehow the ideas seem to sink in more too. The ideas seem obvious (especially in hindsight!) but this book brings home quite how much effect on the bottom-line a few simple changes can have. Hardly any software companies are practicing them. This is a book that needs to be read widely. It will boost the economy!
— David - amazon.co.uk
Author has beautifully narrated every day software delivery problems and how convincingly is able to provide solutions!!
Good inspiration!!
— Mani - amazon.co.uk


This is a great read. It tells you the basics truths about software development, which you’ll also happily learn apply to many other aspects of life too. The story is also highly engaging. If you’re in software development this will be a good way to understand the concepts in practice as part of a transition from wherever you are now to something different. If you’re in an agile team already, then this will help you understand the ‘big picture’ away from the daily practices, and remind you of why the practices are there. Go read it, deploy the concepts and have a brighter future. Just don’t think about small batches.
— Bruce - amazon.com

Thank you Marco Calzolari,, Mantova, Italy

A very enjoyable read for those unfamiliar with Agile or why it works from a business perspective. Does not delve too far into specific systems or methodologies, but serves as more of a giant case study into the transition from Waterfall / Traditional project management into Agile.
— Christopher Alexander "Deuce"
A-ha! moments of insight await newbies and experienced practitioners alike, along with a valuable reminder that it takes the contributions of many to overcome the complex challenges of product development. I will be sure to come back to it time and again whenever I find myself in need of inspiration.
— Gillian - amazon.com
Moving from a manufacturing background to software I understand how these concepts of small batches, limiting WIP, baking in quality and fast feedback make total sense...all wrapped up without the need to mention agile once. Selling Agile is always difficult to those who maybe see it as some sort of cult! I find that people are more receptive to these concepts which are equally at home in the catering trade, manufacturing cars or creating software products. I have started recommending this book as similar blockers arise in my own field, its a good story that will linger in the mind longer than some faceless text book.
— Ivan - amazon.co.uk
If you are struggling to understand Agile this book shows you the benefits and leaves you wondering why the processes aren’t picked up faster.

A good read and prepares you for the next steps on the path
— JohnBr - amazon.co.uk
Beside being a great business novel, this is a truly touching story. The characters are detailed and come alive, which is rare for this genre. Even rarer, it’s often hilarious, sometimes emotionally gripping and, never breaking pace, keeping you on the edge, making it hard to put it down.

If you’re not working in or with IT, it gives you a glimpse in how Lean and Agile concepts and methods are changing the work. If you do work in or with IT, it makes important concepts, especially the Theory Of Constraints, approachable.

Clarke Ching is a master in finding metaphors that make such concepts easy to explain and for that alone, this novel is a fantastic treasure trove.
— Marc - amazon.co.uk