Project Management

Lessons Learned From Mature, Adolescent & Infant Agile Teams

Michael R. Wood is a Business Process Improvement & IT Strategist Independent Consultant. He is creator of the business process-improvement methodology called HELIX and founder of The Natural Intelligence Group, a strategy, process improvement and technology consulting company. He is also a CPA, has served as an Adjunct Professor in Pepperdine's Management MBA program, an Associate Professor at California Lutheran University, and on the boards of numerous professional organizations. Mr. Wood is a sought after presenter of HELIX workshops and seminars in both the U.S. and Europe.

As a consultant, I am privileged to have worked on all sorts of projects across a myriad of industries. Over the years, I have been exposed to many frameworks and methods related to project management and systems development.

My last assignment lasted two years, and during that time I was part of a mission-critical team charged with continuously developing and deploying solutions for managing Covid testing, contact tracing and quarantine management processes. The team was agile with great consistency and success. During that same time, I also worked with other agile teams that did not experience that same success.

This got me wondering why, and what the differences were. What follows is the results of that exploration during my two years of being immersed in an agile-centric IT organization.

The first step in the process was to view several projects in terms of the following attributes:

  • Complexity
  • Scope predictability
  • Duration
  • Urgency
  • Mission criticality

The projects were then categorized in terms of each team’s competency with being agile:

  • Mature (experienced scrum master and team)
  • Adolescent (some experience with agile)
  • Infant (first or second project; feeling their way)

What I observed was that the primary factor in each project’s success was driven by project leadership’s (the project manager and owner) ability to…

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