The Reluctant Agilist

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PhilaPM March Meetup Recap

Wednesday Night @HappyCog in Philadelphia…


@brennaheaps kicks off the March PhilaPM Meetup by asking a room full of Digital PMs if any of them have had to overcome an overwhelming challenge with a team.

By traditional PM standards, this is an odd question.

Answering it requires admitting there are times when you don’t know what you are doing and are way out of your depth. This is not the way of the traditional PM. If you admit not knowing everything, you demonstrate WEAKNESS and might lose CONTROL. If you have no CONTROL, how can you MANAGE PEOPLE?


By Agile standards, it’s not an odd question. It’s an “it depends” question.

HELP! We have to overcome an overwhelming situation. What do we do? It depends… what does the team want to do?

But the team is not here. The PM is here. The PM is supposed to conduct the mayhem and find a way to create music.

Otherwise...

<throw PM="under bus">

Once the question has been laid down for the room, however, the sharing begins. Several of the PMs around the table offer stories of impossible situations they’ve faced. These aren’t the kind of challenges that can be addressed with a change to a contract or a revised scoping doc. These are the “we had it sorted and then the bottom fell out of the world” problems. The ones you couldn’t have seen coming and which leave you with no good options. These are the problems you give talks about at conferences for the next five years.

Only right now… some of these folks need solutions to test out.
 

The Digital PMs
As the PMs in the room begin examining the different situations, it’s a crowd-sourced triage of the situation and options. Some of the suggestions offered have already been tried. Some helped a little, some not so much. There are some new ones though and some of them might work... so at least, there is hope. At the very least, there is a supportive crowd of people who do the same type of work and share the same type of challenges.

RETROPOSTREMORTEMVIEWBLAMESPECTIVE


If you’ve been working in project management for any length of time, you’ve been involved with the meetings that take place at the end of projects. These project reviews or post mortems are generally a wee bit heavy on blame side and a bit light on the learning to improve side. That is, assuming you are actually doing them.

If you are working with Agile, hopefully you are doing retrospectives so that your team can get together to explore how to improve how they work together. Retrospectives are one of the best parts of Agile and a great thing for the team… but this is a little different.

This meeting, which is hosted by Happy Cog is none of the above. It is, however, one of the more interesting characteristics of this segment of the PM population. Digital PM has been around for a while, but only in the past few years has it begun to identify itself as a somewhat separate group. This meeting is full of PMs from different companies. What they have in common is that in one way or another, they all manage projects that are involved with digital media. Some of their projects are less than a month long. Some last more than a year. Some of their clients demand a traditional approach to managing the work. Some demand an Agile approach. The PMs working in these organizations are generally working with fairly small, design centric teams. Their hybrid model is evolving from needing to be able to work a variety of ways, but being able to fully lock into neither. Their agility is their flexibility and this sharing is part of their approach to continuous improvement.

Ten years ago, the project management that existed in this space was simple, basic and practiced by people who were just beginning to cut their teeth. Now it is led by experienced professional project managers and leaders who are schooled up in Agile and waterfall and are collaborating on hybrid tools and techniques that allow them to leverage the best of both. Their pragmatic, collaborative, framework agnostic approach to finding the best way to work with the team and deliver for the client is an exciting and emerging thing.

PhilaPM is organized by Brett Harned, Brenna Heaps, Sloan Miller, and Justin Handler. The group has evolved to the point where they are now working developing a new logo, name and website. Until that happens, you can find them here - http://philamade.com/

If you aren’t from Philly, but do work in digital media or if you are just a PM who could use a little inspiration, you may want to check out some of the following…

Conferences 

DPM2014 http://blog.dpm2013.com/2014/02/24/save-the-date-2014-digital-pm-summit/
DPMUK http://www.dpmuk.com/

Groups in the US and Canada 

Austin http://www.meetup.com/Digital-PM-Meetup-Austin/ 
Boston http://www.meetup.com/Digital-Project-Management-Boston/
Boulder http://www.meetup.com/Boulder-Web-Project-Managers/ 
Minneapolis: http://www.meetup.com/Twin-Cities-Interactive-Project-Management-Meetup/
NYC http://dpmconnect.com and http://www.meetup.com/projectmgmt-72/
Philadelphia http://philamade.com
Portland: http://pdxdigitalpm.com
Vancouver http://www.meetup.com/Vancouver-Digital-Project-Managers/

Groups in EMEA 

London, UK http://www.meetup.com/london-digital-project-managers/ 
Manchester, UK http://www.meetup.com/Northern-Digital-PM/
Oslo http://www.meetup.com/Oslo-Digital-Project-Managers/

Groups in ASIAPAC

Melbourne Digital Project Managers http://www.meetup.com/Melbourne-Digital-Project-Management/
Sydney Digital Project Managers http://www.meetup.com/Sydney-Digital-Project-Management/
Posted on: March 12, 2014 05:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
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