Drunken PM

Drunken Boxing for Project Managers “The main feature of the drunkard boxing is to hide combative hits in drunkard-like, unsteady movements and actions so as to confuse the opponent. The secret of this style of boxing is maintaining a clear mind while giving a drunken appearance.” Yeah... just like that… but with network diagrams and burndown charts… and a wee bit less vodka.
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About this Blog


Recent Posts

Certified Agile Leadership Training with Olaf

Don Kim - I Think, Therefore I Plan

Agile Coach to Agile Gamer - Peter Saddington

Scrum in School - A Case Study of Grandview Prep's Transformation

Forecasting Tools Based on Team Performance with Troy Magennis

Letting Go of the Concrete Liferaft

An article I wrote for the Scrum Alliance about the challenges PMs face when trying to embrace Agile has been posted here on the Scrum Alliance Site. Here is an excerpt...


On my first day of work on a job where my very official job title was listed as "Project Manager", a stressed out, old, bearded guy took me and the other newly minted PM into a room to teach us how to do our job. The first thing he said was, "When I am done with you, everything you do will be a project. You'll be unable to look at the world any other way." Truer words were never spoken. Looking at the world as a series of smaller tasks, with dependencies, a baseline, and a critical path invaded every corner of my brain. I stopped brushing my teeth and started executing a series of steps, which had dental hygiene as a measure of success. A few years later, after months of study, I passed the PMP exam and began trying to impose my "enlightened" approach on the rest of the world with results that were occasionally successful, but mostly, not so much.

If you'd like to read the rest, you can find it here

Posted on: December 31, 2010 01:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Scrum Gathering – Day 3

Day 3 of the Gathering started out with the follow up to Open Space. Around the room, participants shared their impressions of the Open Space and the gathering as a whole. There were a number of people who spoke up as being supportive of, or cautiously optimistic towards the PMI presence.

When PMI Agile Forum leader, Jesse Fewell gave his presentation exploring the differences between Scrum Masters and Project Managers, people were spilling into the hall. And this time, the attendees extended beyond the small cadre of folks who attended the Day 2 sessions and included folks like Jeff McKenna and Tobias Mayer. It was a lively discussion and raised a number of interesting ideas that seemed to center around the role of the PM/Scrum Master as an agent of change who is there to transform an organization, and enable them to become more “healthy”. If the PM/Scrum Master is to play that role, what is the best way to go about it? The session definitely helped bring to light the fact a lot of people are trying to figure out how to make sense of the whole idea of PMI and Scrum co-existing and how that impacts the person who is responsible for “leading” the effort.

After lunch there was a panel discussion with Ron Jeffries, Mike Cohn, Jim Coplien, Alistair Cockburn and Ken Schwaber. (For those of you keeping score at home, that is 3 of the original signatories of the Agile Manifesto.) This was a very special gathering of some of the brightest thought leaders in the software world. They held court, debating and answering all the questions thrown at them. One of the best lines of the afternoon came from Ron Jeffries “There is no really good idea that can be measured by the number of people who adopt it.”

Once the panel was over we had a chance to do some video interviews that will be showing up in video podcasts very soon.

From the moment I arrived I felt challenged by the people I got to speak with and the ideas that were shared. It was my second Scrum Gathering and I find that it truly is a very organic moment of really sharp people who aren’t afraid to push each other. The only real complaint I heard the whole time was from one attendee who just wanted to be pushed even harder than he had been.

In a week or so I will have the video podcasts edited and posted. Until then, I want to say thank you to Greg Balestrero, Mark Langley, the IS SIG, the IT&T SIG, the steering committee of the PMI Agile Forum. We did well. People seem to be thinking it is okay to talk about PMI in the context of the Scrum Gathering. It may not entirely make sense yet, but the message that it was okay to try and figure it out was clearly heard.

I also want to thank the folks from the Scrum Alliance – especially Ken Schwaber, Mike Cohn, Jeff Sutherland, Jim Cundiff, Jodi Gibson and Stacia Broderick. I hope that we will be able to return the support and hospitality shown to the PMI community over the past few days.

I’m not sure how I am going to dry out from my recently developed Twitter addiction, but I will probably have to keep posting messages to @msliger, @mcottmeyer and @jessefewell until I can shake it off.

Posted on: March 18, 2009 10:43 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Scrum Gathering Day 2

Day 2 at the Scrum Gathering is about Open Space. If you’ve not been to one before, it is a very organic experience. There are very few rules, but one of them is that the attendees propose topics at the start of the day.

Jesse Fewell and I both stood up to propose topics. Jesse held a session for all the folks interested in PMIAgile and I held one that was intended to be a place where anyone who had issues or concerns with PMI attending the Scrum Gathering could come and talk about their issues with it. My hope was to capture the concerns and take them back to PMI.

There was a good turnout in the room and it was a very lively debate about the different ideas/concerns around the topic. These will all be posted to the wiki on the Scrum Alliance site as soon as I get home, but there were a few things that struck me today around the whole PMI and Scrum Alliance topic.

The first thing I noticed was that people keep getting hung up on the language issues and concerns about how to map which process to what in the other. This presents a significant hurdle for a lot of folks. “If I do X in your process what is that represented in my process?” The problem with this is that the real issue is not a semantic one, or a mapping one. The real problem is the fact that there is no focus on intent for the people in this conflict. Both approaches want to solve the project as quickly and efficiently as possible. There are different ways, but sadly, a lot of people are too busy making sure they are firmly planted in one camp or the other to understand that it really just does not matter because it is about doing the work.

Having typed all this, I should confess that I do have one concern coming out of day 2. I have had discussions with a number of folks about the role of a project manager in Scrum, or the role of a Scrum Master in project management. Each has a pure approach and for me, in what I do, I blend them together whenever and however I need to in order to get the work done. I do not feel compelled to take up for one side over the other and I don’t believe either is better than the other. I think it depends entirely on the people doing it. Two concerns here: 1) Most people are too caught up in semantics to worry about the intent to deliver and 2) How much of a threat is my approach to the purists? There are a lot of people worried about how PMI might impact the Agile space. There isn’t really anything in place to prevent something bad from happening beyond the people involved.

Anyway, I had some great conversations today, especially with Tobias Mayer, the folks who attended the Scrum Sessions and Michele Sliger.

One more day. I’m looking forward to getting some interviews tomorrow.

You can follow my twitter feed @pmiittelecom
Pictures will be posted to http://www.flickr.com/photos/pmiittelecom/
Or you can see both on the IT&T SIG website: http://www.pmi-ittelecom.org

Posted on: March 17, 2009 11:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Done Done and the Bag of Oranges

Categories: Agile, Mike Cohn

[BEGIN DISCLAIMER] This concept is not mine and I take no shame in having “borrowed” it because it works good enough to get a gig managing lighting on a Christian Bale movie. I first heard it referred to several months ago in an EMC training session that had veered off topic into deep Agile waters. James Shore uses it in his book “The Art of Agile Development” and I’ve seen postings online referring to Mike Cohn using it in his training classes. [END DISCLAIMER]

While it isn’t mine, it is something I’m using with increasing frequency on my projects and it has proven to be incredibly helpful in communicating with both the clients and the guys doing the development work on my projects. Here is a basic rundown of how “Done Done” works.

The Setup

1. Developer says the work on given backlog item is “Done”.

2. PM tells Client that Developer is “Done” working on the item.

3. Client checks to see “Done” work, finds out that it has not been implemented.

4. Client fills bag with oranges, which are then forcefully and repeatedly applied to the stomach of the PM. (According to the late great Jim Thompson, a bag of oranges to the gut provide all the internal bleeding and none of the bruising.)

5. PM, doubled over with pain, questions Developer and determines that, from the Dev’s standpoint, “Done” meant he/she/it was no longer working on said item.

So, how do you protect yourself from ending up like Lillie in "The Grifters"?

The Fix

Implement “Done Done”, which works like this: You bring all team members into a room and explain that all work will henceforth be categorized as existing in one of the following states:

1. Not Done – No one is doing anything at all with this right now.

2. In Process – Someone is doing something about this.

3. Done – Someone feels that they have completed working on something and has implemented it in a way that can be shown to someone who will have something to say about it.

4. Done Done – Work has been completed, implemented, checked, confirmed and approved. And throughout the valley, there is much rejoicing at the verified completion this amazing item.

In the Wild

On my current project, we have “Done”, which means the Devs declared, (usually at some point after 2 AM) that they had completed their work on said item. “Done Done” means that they have not only “Done” the work, but they have shown it to Damon. (Damon is the guy on the client side that we’ve designated as the Zuul of “Done Done”.) So, without Damon’s blessing, they are forbidden from declaring anything to be “Done Done”, unless they want to experience the bag of oranges.

Steering Clear of Bobo Justus

If you happen to be suffering from repeated encounters with the aforementioned bag of oranges, then I’d highly recommending giving “Done Done” a try.
Posted on: February 16, 2009 12:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)

Scrum Gathering 2009 - With a Special Discount for PMI Members!

For the past year, the IT&T SIG has been working together with the Scrum Alliance with the aim of fostering a stronger relationship between the PMI project management community and the Scrum and Agile communities. We started out by holding a series of Scrum and Agile webinars, and last fall we followed up with a special networking reception in Denver at the 2008 PMI Global Congress that celebrated the work we’ve been doing with the Scrum Alliance

The work we’ve done so far has been very successful in beginning to build a bridge between the two communities. But now we have even better news!

This Spring, at the Scrum Gathering in Orlando, Florida, top thought leaders from the Scrum and Agile community will meet with thought leaders from PMI to discuss ways in which we can continue to develop the relationship and increase the awareness on both sides of the fact that each of the approaches has benefits which can be realized across the others.

Here are the official details:
2009 Orlando Scrum Gathering - Scrum Alliance

March 16, 17, 18th, 2009 at The Gaylord Palms Resort, Orlando, Florida, USA

Featured Speakers include: Scrum co-founders: Ken Schwaber & Jeff
Sutherland, along with Mike Cohn, Jim "Cope" Coplien, Ron Jeffries, Alistair
Cockburn, Gregory Balestrero (PMI), Chet Hendrickson plus many more industry

Space is limited, and the expectation is that it will SELL OUT very soon, so if you are interested, please sign up as soon as possible.

Because of the significance of the event, the Scrum Alliance is offering a special discount to members of PMI. If you are a member of PMI and register for the Scrum Gathering, you’ll get the same discount that you’d receive if you were a member of the Scrum Alliance. Click here to receive the discount:

If you would like additional information on the event, please visit:

Posted on: January 24, 2009 12:54 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Do, or else do not. There is no 'try'.

- Yoda