Crisp vs. Modus Cooperandi

Welcome, today I have something a bit out of the ordinary. This blog post is a reflection about two very influential companies in the world of lean and agile.



When you first look at Crisp’s homepage, they look just like any other consultant company. Crisp offers agile experts that develop and improve products, methods, processes, teams and organizations. Nothing in particular about that. However, if you dig deeper (and know where to look) Crisp is quite an amazing company. They have developed a very specific company DNA, and they have even published it as open-source! None of the 30+ consultants are employed by Crisp. There are no managers, not even a CEO. The main purpose of the company is to make their consultants happy. The consultants are 100% autonomous. ”Is this true? Can this really work?”, you might ask. You can try it our for yourself, start by copying the Crisp DNA.

My reason for this blog post is however not the DNA, but rather the specular agile footprint that Crisp have. Henrik Kniberg works for Crisp. I guess you can say that he is ”the number one agile person” in Sweden, with admirable experiences from companies like Spotify and Lego. Now you might think that being good at agile is a team effort and not a ”one man show”, and of course you are correct! Let’s look at what Henrik’s colleagues at Crisp have contributed with to the world of agile. You can can count number of blog posts, how often they speak at conferences and so on, but I have chosen to look at books that they have written. I think that writing a book shows the highest form of commitment and willingness to share your knowledge.

Books on lean and agile from Crisp

Using a popular online book store here in Sweden, I search for their respective names and here is the list I got back:

  • ”Prioritera, fokusera, leverera : din snabbguide till Lean, Agile, Scrum och XP”, book in Swedish written by Hans Brattberg and Tomas Björkholm
  • ”Jennie discovers! – insights, trumps, ideas : a book about agile and lean”, short book written by Hans Brattberg & Jimmy Janlén
  • ”Scrum and XP from the Trenches”, by Henrik Kniberg
  • ”Kanban and Scrum – Making the Most of Both”, by Henrik Kniberg and Mattias Skarin
  • ”Lean from the Trenches: Managing Large-Scale Projects with Kanban”, by Henrik Kniberg
  • ”Real-World Kanban: Do Less, Accomplish More with Lean Thinking”, by Mattias Skarin
  • ”Tillsammans : så skapar du flyt och egenmakt med agile och lean”, book in Swedish written by Peter Antman
  • ”Kanban in 30 Days”, by Tomas Björkholm and Jannika Björkholm (not working at Crisp)

That is quite an impressive collection of eight books on lean and agile! Four of them covering Kanban. I also happen to know that Jimmy Janlén (since I follow him on twitter) is working with another book called ”Visualization examples” that soon will be release to make nine books on the list. Is this unique in the world? Can there be any other companies this influential in agile?

Modus Cooperandi

The only one that I can think of is Modus Cooperandi. It is a small consulting company owned and operated by Jim Benson and Tonianne DiMaria Berry. From ”Personal Kanban” written by Jim and Tonianne, I recall that Modus was started in 2008 by there persons, namely Corey Ladas, David J. Anderson and Jim Benson! How about that for tres amigos in agile!

Books on lean and agile from Modus Cooperandi

Using a popular American online book store, I search for their respective names and here is the list I got back:

  • ”Scrumban: Essays on Kanban Systems for Lean Software Development”, by Corey Ladas
  • ”Kanban”, by David J. Anderson
  • ”Agile Management for Software Engineering: Applying the Theory of Constraints for Business Results”, by David J. Anderson
  • ”Lessons in Agile Management: On the Road to Kanban”, by David J. Anderson
  • ”Personal Kanban: Mapping Work | Navigating Life”, by Jim Benson and Tonianne DiMaria Berry
  • ”Why Plans Fail: Cognitive Bias, Decision Making, and Your Business”, by Jim Benson
  • ”Why Limit WIP”, by Jim Benson
  • ”Beyond Agile: Tales of Continuous Improvement”, co-authored by Jim Benson with Maritza van den Heuvel & Joanne Ho (last two not working at Modus)

A long lists that sums up to the total number of *drumroll* eight books! Among those books I consider both ”Kanban” and ”Personal Kanban” to be a monumental pieces in the spreading of Kanban.


So, who won this competition? Exactly the same number of books calls for a draw. As a Swede I of course think that it’s fascinating that a small company like Crisp can be so influential in the agile world. Especially when it comes to Kanban. In fact, I found a review that claims that ”the best books on Kanban come from North European authors”!

All the best,
 Tomas from TheAgileist

Note: Both Corey Ladas and David J. Anderson are no longer working for Modus Cooperandi.

Disclaimer: I’m not in any means associated with Crisp or Modus Cooperandi.


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