Project Management

Why Agility Matters Much More Than Any Agile Method or Framework (Part 1)

Mass Bay Chapter

Johanna Rothman, known as the "Pragmatic Manager," offers frank advice for your challenging problems. She consults with leaders and teams to help them learn about practical and possible options. They can then decide how to adapt their product development. Her most recent book is "Project Lifecycles: How to Reduce Risks, Release Successful Products, and Increase Agility." See www.jrothman.com for all her books.

In this series, I’ll explain the story of two project managers in the same organization. Both projects use component teams, and both are using a “hybrid” agile approach. First, let’s look at the hybrid approach that looks like waterfall…

Waterfall in Sheep’s Clothing
Fred, an agile project manager, wondered about his organization’s “hybrid” agile approach. He explained it as a “water-Scrum-fail” approach. (Yes, fail instead of “fall,” because he could not see success anywhere.)

When the project started, the product manager created a six-month product backlog. No one created any experiments—the product manager worked alone.

Next, the UX team spent six “design sprints” to clarify the user interface. They declared “design freeze.”

Next, the developer team started to code, using two-week sprints.

Then the test team followed the developers with their two-week sprints.

The testers didn’t start their work until four months into the project. That’s when everything seemed to fail. The testers found problems with the code, which meant the developers found problems with the UX and everyone started to change everything.

To “keep up” with the backlog, everyone started multitasking between their new features and fixing the newly discovered…


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