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Topics: Agile, Organizational Project Management, Scrum
Is Agile Project Management different?
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According to many practitioners Agile is an attribute rather than a different approach to project delivery. Any (traditional) framework can be Agile and any (Agile) framework can become dogmatic. Did Agile impacted significant your life as a Project Manager?
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Agile is an approach to project/product delivery. It did impact me being a part of an Agile transformation for an organization. There's still a ways to go (mainly issues with middle management).
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Agility or being agile is an attribute whereas Agile is a methodology or approach to implement the attribute (principles). It impacted me more from the view of people requiring you to be 'agile' without knowing what it means, all they know is that they don't want you to do what you previously did, irrespective of whether it worked or not.
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Back in the 90s we used to practice the so called "Customize at delivery" management approach in the energy infrastructure construction management. Once a week we had a "coordination meeting" where the project team analyzed the current stakeholder's requirements (user stories - literary, we followed the "city chatter" to decide the priority of the streets to build first). And so we repeated the cycle for nearly 10 years until all the infrastructure was built (nation wise).
More or less that is what today is called agile, it's a kind of a "coordination interface" between the project management and project operations. The agile part can enter in the WBS at any level, based simply on the overall organizational needs. If the traditional approach is "deliverable" centered (the priority is how to deliver the deliverable"), the agile approach is "requirement" centered (the priority is to satisfy a requirement, what deliverables to deliver to satisfy a requirement).
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Agile is a mindset change, it has to change you
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Stelian -

Sure - it became one more misunderstood buzzword creating expectation gaps for stakeholders.

Kiron
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@Anton, Agile is not a methodology. There are Agile frameworks (i.e. Scrum) and Agile practices.
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2 replies by Anton Oosthuizen and Stelian ROMAN
Nov 16, 2018 3:08 PM
Anton Oosthuizen
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Thanks. I'm not even going to enter that debate ;)
Nov 16, 2018 7:56 PM
Stelian ROMAN
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@Anton, giving up is not Agile :). There is a big difference between a framework and a methodology. Confusing one with the other leads many times to dogmatic Agile.
Agile doesn't mean stand-up, backlog and burndown chart. It is a (different) way of delivering products, services and projects.

The huge majority of people doing (or considering that are doing) Agile are using Scrum. If you have the curiosity to read the guide the authors defined Scrum, and Nexus, as frameworks.

The word "Agile" associated with traditional concept Agile Project Management, Agile Product Delivery, Agile Project Manager is a clear indication that Agile is an attribute. Agile BA, Agile Tester etc.

Understanding that Agile is not a methodology is pretty important for anyone that wants to become Agile.
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Interesting subject.

Althoguh I agree with Sante.
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@Kiron, with all due respect the 'expectation gap' starts in the training class. Agile in practice is very different that the one 'sold' by trainers. Agile is an empirical approach and as someone who is doing it since 2002 I don't understand how it can be learned in a classroom.
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2 replies by Kiron Bondale and Stelian ROMAN
Nov 14, 2018 3:01 PM
Kiron Bondale
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Stelian -

You are generalizing - there are many good trainers out there who don't sell snake oil. Yes, there are always going to be training and certification providers out to make a quick buck of the latest fad, but a lot of the hype around agile has been created by the media as well as tool companies, not just training firms.

Kiron
Nov 14, 2018 3:38 PM
Stelian ROMAN
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@Kiron, sincere apologies if it came that way. I believe in the role of trainers and coaches and I know that there are good ones because I worked with some of them.
What I mean is that training itself doesn't make someone Agile and parading a certificate took after 2 days course as an achievement is wrong. Back to trainers; I believe that the Agile mindset and passion should also apply to trainers. I don't see an Agile training the old way following a PowerPoint and a booklet. I also believe that Agile needs some experimentation prior to attending a course. Making mistakes or feeling that it doesn't work for you will add value to the training.
Agile is not easy and it can't be learned in a couple of days. An honest trainer should start the course with this simple statement: that some of the attendees will never be Agile and there is nothing wrong with that.
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@Symon, the 'mindset change' is one of the buzzwords that are associated with the 'fake' Agile. It is mentioned in every sales pitch but it's never explained. People don't change overnight or after a 2 days course. Agile will (maybe) change you but it takes time time and a lot of practice and mistakes, It takes years and some people will never become Agile. Many people were Agile long before 2001. You don't need Scrum to be Agile. Iterative and incremental delivery is used since 1958, the servant leader is a 1970's concept, kanban is also in his 70s.
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1 reply by Symon Thelappillil
Nov 15, 2018 10:48 AM
Symon Thelappillil
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Agree with you, practice is most important
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@Matjaz. I agree that Agile practices were used long before the Manifesto. Like Lean Agile was defined in Manufacturing. There are a lot of articles published in early 90s about the Agile Enterprise, an organisation that can respond rapidly to change. 'stand-ups' were a practice on the production floor for 100 years. I've seen it in early 80s: the whole team had a meeting in the morning to discuss what will be done and if there is anything that needs action/attention. The Scum Guide (scrum.org) formalised in a framework practices that were used in software development for many years.
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2 replies by Matjaz Mozetic and Stelian ROMAN
Nov 16, 2018 9:32 AM
Matjaz Mozetic
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And not only software development. I'd say development in general, since we used the same approach in real estate development projects, energy infrastructure development projects, traffic infrastructure development, power plants, airport or marine port upgrades, etc...

It's an approach used for the projects where you don't have clear deliverables defined in the initiation and planning stages and where you approach them with the learn as you go attitude. Those were actually some of my favorite projects in absolute. But what I tried to state is: there's no impact on our careers by agile since it was always there, even if called and addressed differently ("customize at assembly" management, operations centered project management, .... we had a list of names going from the 80s to the 00s). The only real change is the terminology.
Nov 16, 2018 8:05 PM
Stelian ROMAN
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Interesting, Partially I agree with you: many techniques and fundamental principles were used before Agile was formally defined. The best examples is the iterative and incremental software development method used (documented) in late 50s, kanban and kaizen.
In my experience moving from planned delivery to Agile approach will change people. It develops initiative, self management skills and most importantly the team spirit. In my experience the hardest thing for people that have long experience with planned approach where they are told what to do, is to start taking initiatives, think outside the box and provide feedback, especially highlight things that can be improved.
There are people that are Agile by nature, people that like change and to challenge the status quo. I hope that I am wrong but they are a small minority comparing with the others,
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