Project Managers Find New Rhythm at PMI® Global Congress’ First Agile Open Jam

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Project Managers Find New Rhythm at PMI® Global Congress’ First Agile Open Jam


Agile Open Jam PMIWhat happens with PMI conference attendees encounter a new way to interact about Agile? We found out when I hosted another first: an Agile Open Jam with global project managers. With the help of some excellent co-facilitators, I conducted an Agile Open Jam at the PMI® Global Congress 2014-North America, with the theme of Business Analysis and Product Management in Agile. (To learn about other firsts I’ve shared with the product management community, read my prior blog post.) This Agile Open Jam is noteworthy for both its format and content.

Noteworthy Format

PMI conferences follow a traditional format of sessions, each of which is comprised of presentations and keynotes. As many of you know, Agile conferences tend toward highly interactive and experimental sessions along with numerous networking and collaboration opportunities. Open Jams are highly collaborative, as explained in a prior blog. An Open Jam is an entirely different format for the more traditional format of the Global Congress.

Noteworthy Content

Content-wise, the conference included a small number of sessions on Agile. As you likely know, the global project management community continues to develop its interest in and transition to agile/lean project management. (PMI members can find our webinar on Value in PMI’s Agile Community of Practice archive.) At the same time, PMI has become attuned to business analysis and is offering a new certification in business analysis. (We at EBG have been providing expertise to PMI as it elevates business analysis within the PMI community.) Consequently, PMI added a new Business Analysis and Requirements track to the Global Congress. Dave Bieg, PMI’s Requirements Program Manager, asked me to help design the track. This gave me the opportunity to suggest we do an Agile Open Jam, and with Dave’s help, PMI agreed to this unique and innovative format—and content which effectively straddled both the Agile and business analysis tracks.

Summary Report

Our PMI Agile Open Jam attendees spanned a wide range of agile experience and brought a number of unique questions and puzzles. You can get a flavor of the topics and the collaborative atmosphere in our visual report.


Thanks to the Agile Alliance and PMI for sponsored the two-day Jam. And a special shout out to the team of experienced and energetic agile facilitators who engaged so effectively with the attendees:

Thank you, Jeff Adams, Sue Burk, Joseph Flahiff, Mary Gorman, Shane Hastie, Horia Slusanschi, Ram Srinivasan and Barry Young!

As it was the first Agile Open Jam at a PMI Global Congress I especially appreciated the attendees who jumped right in by offering topics and participating in discussions. Their willingness to try something new was inspiriting!

Posted by Ellen Gottesdiener on: January 11, 2015 08:19 PM | Permalink

Comments (7)

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The Open Jam was a really great way to engage people in a way that was collaborative and participative, Ellen. Congratulations - you all did a fabulous job of engaging the audience.

Agile approaches affect requirements in so many positive ways - from total engagement of the Product Owner, to the Product Backlog, changes in the PB based on business needs, high visibility of project progress on card walls, various levels of analysis of requirements at various stages in the process, all the way through to traceability to the Product Backlog.

I was particularly intrigued by the "Agile in Fixed Price Contracts" slide, given that I work in a consulting organization. This always causes a lively discussion. Are the two slides that follow it ("Definition of Done" and "Value Model") about that topic? I suppose they relate.

I wonder if the two discussing this issue landed in the same place I usually land - that bidding for a fixed price project usually means treating it as if you already know all the requirements, and tracking assumptions very closely to support future change.

In the ideal world, a fixed price Agile contract would fix schedule and budget, but not scope, as the expectation would be that the highest business priority items would be handled, but the lower priority ones may not be - the very trusting "Give me your 10 best people for 1 year and we'll do as much as we can" scenario.


Looks very interesting, I unfortunately missed it. It's funny Mike mentions fixed price contracts as does your presentation. It's a hot topic in the industries I've worked with. I've had the opportunity to work with a few global shops all on fixed price contracts and there is always an element of "we can't be agile, we have a fixed price contract". So essentially you agile within the initiation phase and then suddenly if the smallest detail changes you have a cumbersome change management program akin to a waterfall style method.

I don't really have the answer to how to address this so I'd be interested in your thoughts.

Thanks for this

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