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The Importance of Oblique Goals

by George Dinwiddie

What are your big goals? Productivity? Speed? Happiness? All of these are understandably desirable. They also share another attribute: They all are best achieved by seeking other, lesser goals rather than by seeking them directly.

It’s Not the Process, Stupid

by Mike Griffiths

Agile is as much about process as Disney theme parks are about Mickey Mouse (i.e., very little). Yet people seem to focus on the process, probably because it is easier than capturing the true intent of agile. Here we peel back the facade of process to uncover the agile heart that beats beneath.

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.

People First: Uprooting Project Management for an Agile World

by Paul Carvalho

The Agile Movement continues to pull in project managers who have been steeped in traditional approaches. In this PM's experience, relatively few successfully make the transition. Here’s why…and what we can do about it.

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.

Anything but Waterfall?

by Andy Jordan

Is your organization embracing agile, or rejecting traditional approaches? People look to agile to be more effective than a waterfall-based approach, but to move to agile only because the current approach is failing is shortsighted. In this article, we try to identify a few things to help ensure that agile is a success.

Topic Teasers Vol. 32: Are We Agile Ready?

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

Question: Don’t get me wrong, I want my team to be agile. But it doesn’t seem to me that the organization around here is ready to support it. Do we just go ahead anyway, or do we wait until management and department heads figure out their roles before we change our project practices?
A. Not every team needs to be agile. Wait until the larger organization changes enough that you think it can be successful. In the meantime, change nothing.
B. Your organization can benefit if it becomes attuned to the agile philosophy. Change your IT practices and the rest of the people will eventually automatically alter the ways they support you.
C. Change your team now! Ignore the rest of the organization. As long as you and your co-workers create agile artifacts, the value stream for the business will automatically flow.
D. Agile teams planted in an indifferent or hostile environment cannot grow and flourish. Figure out in detail where your organization stands on a readiness scale, and then work to move it toward a more supportive environment.
Pick your answer then Test Your Knowledge!

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.

From Turkeys to Agile Eagles

by Michael Aucoin

While there is almost unanimous agreement on the importance of teams, the vast majority of people don’t like to belong to them. This raises a loud warning for you and your agile team, one you must address proactively, because an agile project succeeds or fails on the health of the team. Maybe the GCCR Plan can give your team members wings that fly.

Topic Teasers Vol. 30: Changing Agile Attitudes

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

Question: My agile team does okay with the new structure of how we do things, but it seems like we’ve just replaced one set of rules with another. How can I get them to change the way they think about things, not just follow the new processes? I understand that is the underlying key to agile success?
A. Management does not care what team members believe as long as they turn around work more quickly than they did in the past. Leave people to think what they will.
B. In addition to the team rules and the agile methodology process rules, tell people each day what they are to think about the work they do and how they should view others.
C. You can’t mandate change. You can only find a fun way to demonstrate and remind people on the team about the premises of agile philosophy.
D. If your team won’t quickly adjust to knowing and following the agile philosophies, this approach to doing projects will fail. Return to traditional project management practices.
Pick your answer then Test Your Knowledge!

ScrumMaster: The Anti-PM?

by Andy Jordan

Do the skills required by each function make it almost impossible to be a successful PM and ScrumMaster? Our writer had one theory as he started his musings...and ended up somewhere else entirely.

Scaling Up Agility

by Mike Griffiths

When approaches work well, it is natural to want to replicate them. However, scaling a process is not as easy as saying “Do more of it!” Here, we examine some strategies and anti-patterns for successful scaling.

Top 10 Items to Pack for Your Agile Journey

by Gil Broza

While each organization is unique and struggles in its unique way, there is a common thread: they haven’t prepared adequately for their agile journey. What should you bring on your agile journey? If you’re already traveling, what should you add to your luggage? Here are the top 10 items...

Are Virtual Teams the Next Revolution of Work?

by Mike Griffiths

Virtual teams may well be the next step in the evolution of work. So it is interesting to ask if today’s management principles and processes are optimized to support them. To help answer this question, let’s take an illustrated tour of work through the ages and also review how management has progressed along the way.

How Do You Reward Achievement Within a Team?

by Ken Whitaker

With the shift to a more agile, team-centric organizational structure, singling out individuals can become a cumbersome and stressful task for even the best and most experienced managers. In this article, we cover how rewards can actually backfire--and give you three rules of thumb for rewarding your best performers.

Danger! Naïve Agile Coaches Can Kill Agile Adoption Plans

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

Some managers claim that agile approaches don’t work in large organizations because they have tried--and failed--to deploy agile methods in their company. This article describes one of the major underlying causes for these failed adoptions and makes suggestions for resolving the issue.

Finding Your Project's Pulse

by Michael Aucoin

Imagine for a moment that interest in your project catches on like crazy. Hundreds of people pitch in to help you meet an impossible deadline. Complete fantasy, right? It can happen, and it did. And the takeaways for your agile project are real--and powerful.

Slowing Down to Go Faster

by George Dinwiddie

It's hard to know if we're producing systems as fast as we could produce them. We can, after the fact, always identify ways in which we "wasted" time without contributing to our desired outcomes. But why can't we identify which will be waste before the fact? Because we want to go as fast as possible!

So You Think You’re Agile...

by Gil Broza

According to various surveys, many IT projects worldwide use agile methods. What the surveys don’t tell is that many of those projects suffer from the typical ailments of traditionally run projects: compromised quality, technical debt and missed deadlines. Why is that? And what can you do about it?

Getting Agile Training: When Are You Ready?

by Don Kim

The decision to get agile training is a question that’s part of a bigger one: Whether one is ready to adopt agile practices and principles wholeheartedly. When are you ready? There are four fundamental questions you have to ask yourself before embarking on an agile training program.

Is Agile Your Solution or Your Problem?

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

Are agile practices themselves ever so rigid that they become stifling rather than liberating? Sometimes, strict adherence to an agile framework can cause problems for project teams. Be on the lookout for these issues...

Is Agile Undermining the Project Manager Role?

by Sachin Dhaygude

While self-organized teams are valuable and shared responsibility is the way to manage any project, it seems like a project manager is needed to steer things in the right direction--just make sure you allow them to adapt.

Dealing with Agile Requirements Uncertainty

by Mike Griffiths

How are you with uncertainty? Do you revel in the possibilities or crave closure? Agile methods have a very different approach to requirements management that some people find empowering...and others find infuriating.

Can Agile Projects Self-Organize with a Fixed-Price Mentality?

by Sachin Dhaygude

The answer is “yes”, even though the typical fixed-price mentality violates the values stated in the Agile Manifesto. But fixed-price contracts are necessary for the market, so agile projects will have to adjust and offer a workaround.

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- John Wayne

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