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Agile Adoption: Changing Behavior by Asking the Right Questions

by George Dinwiddie

Successful agile development requires that people collaborate in self-organizing their own work. Being told how to do that is counterproductive, yet waiting for them to discover agile practices that work can take a very long time, perhaps forever. What’s a manager to do?

Danger, Will Robinson! 5 Anti-Patterns of Agile Adoption

by Bob Galen

As an experienced agile coach, this writer often gets asked about agile tactics and practices--what works and what doesn’t. There are no singular answers, but there are some generative behaviors and rules for agile done well. In this article, he explores a set of common anti-patterns that he sees in an effort to share what not to do in your agile journey.

Scrum, Kanban or Scrumban: When, Why and How?

by Vandana Roy

Is Scrum better, or Kanban? Which is more suitable for your project? Such questions--and sometimes the responses--put managers in a dilemma about which framework to embrace. Each has its own benefits and tales of success...

5 Ways to Compromise Your Team's Success

by Gil Broza

The popularity of agile methods among knowledge workers continues to rise. Unfortunately, most organizations that use such methods are actually not agile friendly. In particular, they have grafted the flat, empowered, collaborative agile team construct onto their existing functional power hierarchy. Here are five agile killers to avoid…

Does Agile Apply to Your Project?

by Johanna Rothman

How do you know if agile applies to your project? If you are like many project managers, your company is in the midst of an agile transition. Maybe you want to transition to agile, maybe you are already agile…but your organization? Not so much. Here are four tips to see if agile applies to your project.

Interchangeable Project Lenses Can Reveal the Unseen

by George Dinwiddie

When we see the same view every day, we get complacent. A prudent project manager does not rely on any single view of the project, as multiple views can expose unforeseen problems and opportunities.

The Music of Agile Testing

by Paul Carvalho

Agile testing is commonly mistaken as only referring to the Quality Assurance/testers on the team. This is a destructive, limited view of this critical agile development piece. This article places the emphasis on the often neglected, misunderstood and essential collaboration tool.

Big Agile, the Route Less Travelled

by Mike Griffiths

In attempting to make agile methods scalable, it is tempting to add more process to assist larger-scale coordination. However, that is the last thing we should do. Scaling collaboration, not process, is the key to enterprise agility.

Are You Ready to Go Agile? (Part 3 of 3)

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

This is the final article in a three-part series on the factors to consider when determining whether an organization, team or project is “ready” for agile. This third installment continues the discussion by examining factors that are specific to the project itself and whether it is really suited to an agile approach.

Topic Teasers Vol. 44: Don't Hire Heroes!

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

Question: Finally, we have convinced human resources that our agile team lead and our ScrumMaster need to be involved in hiring new team members. But now that we have the authority, we really don’t know what to look for in a good hire. How do we use this new power to our best advantage in choosing a fresh agile colleague?
A. Be careful what you ask for. Only human resource certified people are qualified to choose new employees for an organization. Revoke your participation rights in this process or you will be blamed when this new hire fails.
B. It’s not only the questions you ask, but what you do with the answers that will empower you to choose the best addition to your team. Create a good list of questions and know how to interpret what you hear.
C. Your product owner is the person on the management team and is more experienced in what makes a good agile team member. Ask him to sit in on candidate interviews and then defer to his superior judgment when making the final choice.
D. The person you hire must fit into the team, so assemble the entire team and have all of them work with you to interview potential candidates. Once they have agreed on a choice, they will be forced to work with the new person successfully since they have been part of the hiring decision.
Pick your answer then Test Your Knowledge!

Can Agile Teams Get Burned Out?

by Bob Galen

Can agile teams--even high-performing ones--burn out? Of course. Far too many teams seem to schedule their sprints sequentially or back to back, without a pause or break. So if you are suffering from burnout, what are some helpful techniques to refresh and recharge your teams?

Are You Ready to Go Agile? (Part 2 of 3)

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

This second article continues the discussion by looking at the second group of factors related to the readiness (and willingness) of the project team to adopt agile best practices. As with sponsorship factors, we need to consider cultural, structural and management aspects.

Debunking Myths about Product Managers

by Ken Whitaker

Project teams quite often assume that the product manager is a true partner--and when a project is under scrutiny or stress, the product manager can transform into a very tough adversary and oftentimes a combative stakeholder. Put yourself in a product manager’s shoes for a change! Let’s explore a couple of myths about product managers that should hopefully spark a new level of collaboration and success…

Applying Agile to Emergent Projects

by Johanna Rothman

Most of us work on projects where we know the end date or the budget--or both. But there is a category of projects where we might not know either: emergent projects. Emergent projects are change projects such as your agile transition or any other project that you have no control over. Can you apply agile to those projects? Yes. Carefully.

Getting People to Do the Right Thing

by Gil Broza

Every aspect of product development can be done better or worse. That includes being a team player, writing code, communicating requirements, testing functionality...you name it. But how do you ensure that people do the best thing? And, can you even do that? That is, can you somehow force good practice? And what can you expect to happen by doing so?

Use Cases or User Stories: Where Should Agile Teams Start?

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

Should an agile team begin with requirements documented as use cases or user stories? Proponents from both sides of the debate make good arguments, leading to confusion for many who are just getting started with agile practices.

The Kanban Board: A PM’s New Best Friend?

by Andy Jordan

Across the world, there are traditional project managers with dirty little secrets--they are embracing Kanban concepts. What is it that's leading traditional PMs to embrace an agile tool so readily? Well, to understand that we need to understand what Kanban boards offer project managers--something that works.

Visual PM: Something Old, Something New...

by Michael Wood

Taking a lesson from the automobile industry, some project managers have found ways to improve project team and stakeholder communications through the use of tools that help people better visualize the status of projects and related issues. Here is a primer on Visual PM--its origins, use and more...

Agile Development: Great for Engineers, Not So Much for Project Management

by Tushar Patel

With over half of companies using a blended agile and waterfall approach to development, it’s critical to be aware of how an agile approach affects planning and alignment with the overall business strategy. Here are the most common challenges in enterprise agile development--and some tips for how smart companies are navigating the new landscape.

Three Essential Leadership Practices that Improve Team Ownership

by Pollyanna Pixton

Why is team ownership important? It is essential to agile team success because individuals thrive on ownership. With ownership, you have a stake in the game and push to find the best solution. The difficulty is that most corporate cultures have command-and-control leaders. Here is some help...

Agile Project Management: Keeping it Simple

by Ken Whitaker

Agile project management, and particularly Scrum, can become overwhelmingly consumed by methodology, jargon and rules. This is just the opposite of what was originally intended for agile-lead projects, and it is the communications part of our role that is so important.

Agile Advocacy

by Mike Griffiths

We all need some help sometimes when introducing agile methods into a traditional organization. Fortunately, a new guide to ease the transition is available. The recently published Software Extension to the PMBOK Guide Fifth Edition acts as a Rosetta Stone for mapping and replacing traditional approaches with their agile alternatives.

Leading Your Organization's Transition to Agile

by Johanna Rothman

Are you wondering what it would take to transition your organization to agile, for real? Maybe your organization has made a half-hearted attempt to transition to agile for some projects. Maybe you are the champion, but agile hasn’t gained the traction you expected by now. Consider these five tips to retrench and improve your organization’s transition.

Three Large Banks, Three Different Approaches to Agile Adoption

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

As the use of agile methods spreads into larger organizations, senior managers struggle to decide their agile adoption strategy. Here are three stories from three large Canadian banks who each took a different adoption approach.

Taking the Long View in Software Development

by George Dinwiddie

Organizations that over-emphasize expediency can set themselves up for long-term losses. This article addresses strategies for taking a balanced approach--specifically, maintaining development capacity, maintaining code asset value and flexible tool selection.

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