Project Management

Danger! Naïve Agile Coaches Can Kill Agile Adoption Plans

PMI Durham Highlands Chapter

Kevin Aguanno is the agile practice lead for Procept Associates Ltd., one of PMI’s first Registered Education Providers, specializing in training and project and programme strategy consulting. Author of over 30 books, audiobooks and DVDs on project management topics, he teaches agile methods at several universities and at conferences around the world. He spends most of his time helping large, complex organizations integrate agile project management methods into their governance frameworks.

I can’t believe it has happened again: a representative from another corporation is claiming 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.

At least once every month, I come across claims that agile approaches don’t work in large organizations. The story is similar every time: someone in management wanted to see if agile methods work and started a pilot project to evaluate the approach. Early on, managers were frustrated by the lack of basic planning and controls on the pilot project, such that they could not determine whether or not the project was on track to meet expectations. In desperation, the company hired an experienced agile coach.

Nevertheless, the initiative fails as the coach cannot help the company managers objectively assess the health of the project, forecast project financial performance and determine the risk of missing the project milestones.

The major issue causing these problems to arise is a basic schism in the agile community. The agile community seems to be composed of two main camps: people designing, building and testing deliverables (the technical “do-ers”); and people managing the overall …

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