Project Management

Agile Horrors

Mike Griffiths is an experienced project manager, author and consultant who works for PMI as a subject matter expert. Before joining PMI, Mike consulted and managed innovation and technology projects throughout Europe, North and South America for 30+ years. He was co-lead for the PMBOK Guideā€”Seventh Edition, lead for the Agile Practice Guide, and contributor to the PMI-ACP and PMP exam content outlines. Outside of PMI, Mike maintains the websites www.LeadingAnswers.com about leading teams and www.PMillustrated.com, which teaches project management for visual learners.

As Halloween approaches we look for some agile horrors to watch out for:

Frankenstein Process: This is the methodology designed by committee that tries to combine iterative, empowered development with linear scheduling and command-and-control task assignment. Perhaps created in an attempt to satisfy the desires of competing groups, this half-goose, half-salmon abomination neither flies nor swims.

Agile practices are in a balanced network. Ruthless testing balances the need for comprehensive documentation; colocation, demos and daily stand-ups reduce the need for detailed status reporting. Changes made to this web of practices can easily create risks, gaps and duplications if they are not carefully considered.

Think candy apples, not pumpkin pie: Hybrid methods work best when there is a core of agile for the team to own and execute, surrounded by a wrapper of more traditional process to buffer and integrate into a less agile-aware environment. Don’t try and glom disparate process pieces together; it becomes a monster nobody loves or defends.

Zombie Projects: Some projects should just die, but won’t seem to. Doomed from the outset with unrealistic deadlines, overly ambitious scope or ill-equipped skills and support, everybody knows it will not end well--but nobody seems willing or able to kill it.

These death marches to eventual failure or …


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If you look at it, manure isn't such a bad word. You got the "newer" and the "ma" in front of it. Manure.

- George Costanza

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