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Topic Teasers Vol. 62: Refractive Retrospectives

by Barbee Davis, MA, PHR, PMP, PMI-ACP

Question: While I know that the retrospective step in the agile process is said to be important, I must admit that my team dreads these meetings. Is there a way to focus our time so that instead of silence when we are asked “what we could do better,” we are actually able to have some meaningful discussion? I know what we do each iteration is far from perfect.
A. If your team responds with silence when the ScrumMaster or team lead opens the retrospective meeting for discussion, it is because you have actually done an excellent job during the preceding iteration and there is nothing to be discussed or changed for the next one.
B. Perhaps having a list of questions that you follow in each retrospective meeting will give the team a focused way to evaluate what happened in the last week or weeks. Knowing the questions ahead of time may also influence the data people tuck away while it is happening, in anticipation of the next sharing session.
C. The difficulty with being honest about team failure during an iteration can be due to the presence of leadership or customers. Only the team itself should be allowed to attend the meeting. Then they are free to talk openly about the success and challenges of the project work, as well as the impediments presented by management.
D. A team responding to a retrospective opportunity with no comments means that the meetings are taking too much time away from the work of the project. Limiting this group discussion to no more than 10 minutes will free participants to quickly present their problems and walk away while the ScrumMaster or team lead solves them.
Pick your answer then Test Your Knowledge!

The Next Level of Big Visible Charts

by Klaus Nielsen, MBA, PMI-ACP, PMI-RMP, PMP

Information radiator is the generic term for any of a number of handwritten, drawn, printed or electronic displays that a team places in a highly visible location. It conveys the latest information at a glance. Learn how your team can foster collaboration through visible project management and implementing radiators.

Agile Innovation

by Mike Griffiths

There are great opportunities for growth and deviation outside the standard agile models for stable teams who want to evolve further. This article tells the story of one team that did just that--and what other people can learn from it.

Agile Results Require Capacity Balance: Got the Courage?

by Bob Galen

By significantly reducing your number of parallel projects--focusing on fewer, and then trying to get them done--you might get better results. Why? Because multi-tasking is the enemy, and agile is a capacity equalization play.

Projects are Not Black and White: The Bimodal Buzz Ignores Reality

by Kevin Aguanno, PMP, MAPM, IPMA-B, Cert.APM, CSM, CSP

Project delivery organizations need more than just a bimodal approach. While waterfall and agile are very different delivery approaches, if you put them on a spectrum with one at each end, you will find that many projects would ideally be situated somewhere along the spectrum between those two extremes. Instead, optimal delivery would be achieved with a tetramodal delivery approach.

Methodologies for Effective Project Management: A Review

by Sreekumar Menon

Adopting and maintaining an appropriate project methodology is vital for organizational success. The purpose of this article is to explore and analyze project methodologies that find common application in effective project management.

Topic Teasers Vol. 60: Adding to Agile Proposals

by Barbee Davis, MA, PHR, PMP, PMI-ACP

Question: In our attempt to move to an agile-driven organization, management has asked my team to be involved with responding to a proposal that, if we get it, could provide an increase of 50% in our gross income this year. Since we’ve always complained that we weren’t consulted before contracts were signed, now the pressure is on for us to be very wise regarding what we add to the company’s submission. Are there any rules of proposal development for agile teams?
A. Yes. Just like rules for creating speeches can make the difference between wowing the crowd and expounding to a bored audience, learn the correct way to write proposals. Hint: It is better to win the business than look good and have a fancy document.
B. Yes. Many colleges and universities have degrees in contract writing. At least one person on the team should have at least 12 hours of formal education before you include the team’s ideas in the proposal. The good thing is that this training can also be used for PDUs.
C. No. Those who become skilled in contract negotiation and responding to proposals are housed in a special procurement department. They have eked out their skill sets through years on the job. While you can sit in on meetings, don’t risk looking foolish. Always defer to their ideas and decisions.
D. No. There is so much political intrigue and price fixing involved in Request for Proposals (RFP) or other versions of how organizations solicit bids that not much depends on the actual proposal submitted by your organization. See if anyone on your team knows anyone in the potential customer organization who could leverage the decision to your advantage.
Pick your answer then Test Your Knowledge!

Agile and Strategic Alignment

by Mike Griffiths

Agile projects may look like untethered pinwheel rockets spinning away on unpredictable paths. How do we align them to IT strategies so they don’t adopt all kinds of crazy technologies the organization has to support or replace?

Are You Ready for Change?

by Braden Kelley

In the first article in this series, we looked at some of the links between agile and change methodologies. In this article, we will investigate a different question: Are you and your organization ready for change?

Agile Testing for Rapid Feedback

by Paul Carvalho

Development organizations are often attracted to agile development practices with the promise of increased test automation to help their teams deliver higher quality faster. It’s not just any tests though: We look to automate the kinds of tests that provide rapid feedback to tell us if we have built the product right. But which tests do we automate, and when?

Preparing for Strategic Agile

by Andy Jordan

There’s a lot of talk about strategic or enterprise scale agile, but what do organizations have to do to prepare for such a change? The right approach will depend on the needs of the organization and its willingness to absorb change.

How Agile Are Your Change Efforts?

by Braden Kelley

How fast is your organization capable of changing to continue to remain relevant and successful in the marketplace? The world is changing at an accelerating pace. Companies are rising to global scale faster, while large, successful companies are disappearing faster--leading to the need for agile change.

Project Manager 2.0: What is Your Change Management Plan?

by Irfan Shariff

The organizational world within which project managers operate is going through rapid and unprecedented change, driven by forces of globalization and digital technology. So, the choice is yours: change now, become PM 2.0 and survive. Don’t change, and await extinction...

An Agile Look at Change

by Andy Jordan

The alternative to embracing change doesn’t have to be completely rejecting it. Are there ways we can introduce more flexibility to waterfall projects without losing control of change? Can traditional project execution approaches learn anything from the agile approach to change?

Burning Up Construction Projects: Why Not?

by Massimo Longo

Project management in construction follows traditional planning methods to communicate project schedules. The objective of this article is to show how agile tools like burnup and burndown charts help communicate project timeline and progress.

Agoraphobia: The Fear and Loathing of Open-Space Offices

by Mike Griffiths

Agile methods recommend co-location and face-to-face communications, but studies of office workers show high levels of dissatisfaction with open-plan environments. So, how do we make agile work and minimize the issues surrounding open-plan environments?

Is Agile Working for Your Project?

by Johanna Rothman

Is agile working for your team? Do standups feel like micromanagement? Are people missing commitments because they are spread across projects? If people are going through the motions of agile and aren't happy about it, use these five key questions to help.

Agility and Postponing Decisions: Why and How

by Gil Broza

Did you know that agile has an explicit and core principle guiding decision making? You can’t be agile without following it. It’s called “deferring decisions to the last possible moment."

Are You Missing Out on the Benefits of Kanban?

by Vandana Roy

Kanban has become popular in the software development world--but is used very selectively. Developers are missing real opportunities to better serve customers in both software operations projects and in new development projects. Here we cover the core principles of Kanban that can be applied to any project where improved quality and throughput are desired.

The Agile Business Analyst: Working Toward Product Ownership

by Joy Beatty, David Gardner, Candase Hokanson

You’re a hardworking, successful business analyst (BA), and have just been told your organization is “going agile.” Perhaps you’ve heard a few details about the types of roles involved in an agile development environment, but nothing that really depicts how a BA fits into this new atmosphere. So what does this shift in your organization mean for you?

The Agile Certification Landscape

by Kevin Aguanno, PMP, MAPM, IPMA-B, Cert.APM, CSM, CSP

The number of agile certifications available in the market keeps growing, and one must consider the unique needs of the inquiring company or individual to know what would be best for them. What factors should you consider? Do you even know the options available?

Managing Quality in Agile Projects: Your Three-Part Checklist

by Paul Carvalho

Managing quality during a software development project can be difficult and time consuming when you have been misinformed about true quality indicators and practices. Actively managing quality on an agile project can be both simpler and harder than traditional approaches. Here are some basic practices to save time and unnecessary rework--and improve stakeholder satisfaction before and after delivery.

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"It is best to keep your mouth shut and be presumed ignorant than to open it and remove all doubt."

- Mark Twain