Project Management

The Agility Series

The Agility Series focuses on agile and agility across the organization not just in software and product development. Areas of agility that will be covered in blog posts will include: - Organizational Agility - Leadership Agility - Strategic Agility - Value Agility - Delivery Agility - Business Agility - Cultural Agility - Client Agility - Learning Agility

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Recent Posts

Guiding Principles for an Adaptive Organization

Reflections on 40 Years in IT - Agile by default!

InfoQ Podcast Interview of me on The Agility Series, Cultural Agility, and more

You might be a management red-neck if…

Strategic Debt  — What it is and how to avoid it


Agile, agile, agility, Benefits Realization, could be agile...sort of, Cultural Agility, culture, humour, Investment Decisions, Leadership, mindfulness, not-agile, outcomes, Outcomes Management, Outcomes-focused Agility, outcomes-focused agility, PMO, Professional Development, Resilience, Scrum, servant leadersip, SOA, stategy, strateggy, Strategy, strategy, Sustainability, Value Management


The Cultural Agility Questions are now live!

The Cultural Agility Questions are now live!

I am excited to kick off the first round of questions on Cultural Agility which you can start to answer immediately by clicking on

We will be closing the first round on March 31st with the second round to follow shortly thereafter. We hope to have both rounds concluded by mid-April so we can prepare to speak on the this topic at Spark the Change Montreal being held on May 11-12.

The questions can be answered by anyone so please share as widely as possible in your own networks - the more insights we get the richer our collective wisdom will be! Thank you so much for helping us spread agility!


Kindest regards - Larry

Posted on: March 21, 2017 07:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

Focus on the positive

A big part of traditional project management is Risk Management which consists of the following steps

  • Risk Management Planning
  • Risk Identification
  • Qualitative Risk Analysis
  • Quantitative Risk Analysis
  • Risk Response Planning
  • Risk Monitoring and Control

Some teams will do all but the last step very early in the project - I have seen it done before they have even established WHY they are doing the project! In a recent post What? You don't know why you are doing your project?  I discussed how outcomes-focused agility helps us to figure the WHY before we focus on the WHAT, WHEN, HOW, or WHERE of our portfolios, programmes, and projects let alone which products we should build using Scrum.

Too much of an upfront emphasis on Risk Management has us focusing on what will go wrong before we have truly focused on what must go right. Humans have a bias towards negative thoughts according to Rick Hanson, Ph.D., a neuropsychologist. He says

Our minds naturally focus on the bad and discard the good. It was much more important for our ancestors to avoid threats than to collect rewards: An individual who successfully avoided a threat would wake up the next morning and have another opportunity to collect a reward, but an individual who didn’t avoid the threat would have no such opportunity.

He describes the brain as like "Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive ones." While that may have been important when we were mostly hunter-gatherers, it is not such an important behaviour to have in modern organizations.

In our second book in The Agility Series, Leadership Agility: Enabling Organizational Sustainability, we said that mindfulness is a core value of leaders that exhibit agility. Being mindful helps us to counter the effects of negative thinking (or the overemphasis what on might go wrong), as opposed to what must go right for us to be successful.

Another example from everyday life - if you watch or read the news you would believe that 2016 was a horrible disaster. However, Col. Chris Hadfield, the renowned Canadian astronaut reminded us recently with a list of 46 things that show 2016 was actually pretty good. He concluded with

There are countless more examples, big and small. If you refocus on the things that are working, your year will be better than the last.

So what does that have to do with portfolios, programmes, and projects and risk management? Lots. An overemphasis on risk can cause us to forget to focus on the positive. So what is the positive for portfolios, programmes, and projects? Answering the WHY question before we jump into the WHAT, WHEN, HOW, or WHERE. Outcomes-focused Agility enables us to thrive in a VUCA-world where we face mostly holistic messes rather than discrete problems.

Having a positive focus enables us to meet each unexpected event using an inspect and adapt mindset. Being mindful as a leader, is having the willingness to self-reflect and change our behaviors, attitudes, practices and processes, based on what we now know to be true. In my webinar Are you an Agile project manager or an Agile project leader? And why does that question matter? I talked about the fact that projects consist of known knowns, know unknowns (the risks we try to identify), and the known unknowns (those things we don't know and could never anticipate but that we must respond to when they occur).

Focusing on knowing our WHY enables us to respond to each unexpected event or new realization along the way within the context of the specifics of what we are trying to accomplish, rather than focusing on all of the bad things that can go wrong that may have nothing to do with our WHY. If we instead focus on what we need to do (the positive) to achieve our WHY, then we will be far more likely to actually achieve it. When we spend most of our energy on making good things happen, and when engaging with our stakeholders more often and in a more positive context, then far less of the bad will actually happen.

Positive thinking is not only good for ensuring success in our projects, it's also good for own personal well-being and the well-being of those around us.

So what are you doing to engage in mindfulness and focusing on the positive so you and your teams can be successful? I'd love to hear your thoughts.


How to contact me:

  1. Send me an e-mail directly
  2. Follow me on Twitter: @cooperlk99
  3. Connect to The Agility Series Webinar Channel

Want to engage me and my friends:

  1. Check out our LinkedIn Group
  2. Check out our learning portal: - lots of free stuff plus some great courses on Scrum  and PRINE2 Agile. Go get The Adaptive Strategy Guide and Organizational Agility while you are there - both are FREE.
  3. You can also purchase the second book in the Agility Series on Leadership Agility or my very first book Agile Value Delivery: Beyond the Numbers
  4. We provide coaching and mentoring in Agile and Scrum for public and private sector clients. Contact me for more details
  5. We also offer classroom training  for courses plus other agile and Scrum training (

Posted on: January 06, 2017 07:43 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)

"I have taken more good from alcohol than alcohol has taken from me."

- Winston Churchill