People First: Uprooting Project Management for an Agile World

Paul Carvalho is dedicated to helping development teams deliver high levels of quality with confidence. He inspires collaborative, agile, test-infected teams with a holistic approach to quality. Paul launched the company, Quality Driven Inc, to bring his quality development experience and knowledge to individuals and organizations through consulting, training, coaching, writing and speaking internationally. Paul is passionate about understanding human ecosystems for delivering great products that satisfy and delight customers, which he finds to be a natural fit with the agile community. Connect with him through Quality-Driven.com and say hello on Twitter @can_test.

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

Agile is a State of Mind
Traditional project management uses specific processes and tools to help support team members. Agile projects emphasize team members and customers first and allow the processes and tools to evolve as required. “Agile”, therefore, is not a project management approach; it’s a state of mind that guides your relationships with others.

People First
A traditional project manager’s idea of being a people-person is likely very different from that of an agile team member’s. I have engaged in many conversations with project managers who see nothing wrong with calling people “resources” and applying command-and-control wrappers around agile practices that essentially kill the value the practices might otherwise have. The great PMs I've worked with are open-minded and adapt in order to focus on the team members and customer deliverables.

At the Root
The “Manifesto for Agile Software Development” made its appearance in 2001, so it is still a relatively new phenomenon. The software development industry itself is maybe 50 years old at best. When you compare that …

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You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says, "My God, you're right! I never would've thought of that!

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