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Topics: Agile, PMO, Scrum
How much support is there for project managers learning Agile?
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My background is in leading program management teams, but I now lead and coach in Agile development. There seems a continuing tension between the classical and agile communities. How easy do project managers find accessing good material to build their understanding of Agile?
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Finding good material is easy. The challenge is synthesizing and applying it. Take the average CSM class, for example. Classes have improved since I first became a CSM, but there are still people who come out of training without making the connection that they just learned Scrum at the team level, not how to implement it at the organizational level.

I think the tension between the Agile and Traditional camps has lessened. There are still people who claim that you can use Scrum on any project, which wouldn't be effective, but many people are realizing that many of the principles associated with the agile manifesto can be applied to every project.
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There is some support and some resistance. I can't quantify it, but I've seen both.

PM groups (like PMI) have shown growing support. I think this speaks to the growth and acceptance of Agile frameworks. PMI didn't so much resist Agility so much as it mis-understood it or downplayed the significance. If you read the PMBOK 5th edition, for example, it briefly talks about cyclical projects, but just leaves it there.

In tandem with this, there are a lot of PMs who experimented with Agile practices but never really embraced / experienced true Agile culture. That seems to be slowly changing, and the 6th edition is a vast improvement regarding iterative projects. There are now a number of PMs who have a solid Agile foundation and can assist other project managers.

There are, unfortunately, a lot of us who still don't quite grasp Agile culture, or who tried it once and decided it didn't work once and therefore can never work. That's why Agile organizations have so much legacy resistance to project managers. In my personal experience, I've never had anyone in an Agile organization question my (non-Agile) education certifications, or my (definitely non-Agile) MBA, or my (anti-Agile) government background, but I've been rejected multiple times simply because I have a PMP. There's a lot of bad history we need to overcome, going all the way back to 1970 when Winston W. Royce introduced the waterfall method as something to be avoided and project managers mistakenly took it as something to be adopted. But I think we'll get there, given the willingness of so many project management professionals to learn and grow, and the acceptance of project management organizations and forums.
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Thanks. Two great replies here. The underlying (and unnecessary) tension is what concerns me. I have a PMP and it has complemented what I've learned in lean-agile. But misunderstanding agile mindset is a major part of the problem an not helped by both cultures only talking within their own groups. I posted some links to my own thinking, but they were deleted by a moderator as external links are not allowed which is a great example of this "echo chamber" effect. Look on my profile if you want to see more.
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There is no tension at all if you understand what Agile really is. Agile was born outside the software field as an evolution of Lean. Because of that, Agile is not about to use a method/framwork, is not about to follow a process, is not about software/IT.
Here some links
About the results of the place where Agile was born (I was part):
http://www.parshift.com/ResponseAbility/Preface.htm
http://www.parshift.com/s/140106Technion-AgileVsLeanSE.pdf
With humility, my short article publised into PM Network:
http://www.pmnetwork-digital.com/pmnetwork/april_2016?pg=73#pg73
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Sergio, I don't believe there is inherent tension between Agile and Project Management. I believe the tension is between a significant number of Agile practitioners who reject project management and Project Managers who misunderstand or reject Agility. I agree that this tension does not need to exist, but it does exist and is something our profession needs to help resolve over time.
Thank you.
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1 reply by Sergio Luis Conte
May 22, 2019 5:11 PM
Sergio Luis Conte
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Fully agree with you.
Network:1897



May 22, 2019 4:16 PM
Replying to Wade Harshman
...
Sergio, I don't believe there is inherent tension between Agile and Project Management. I believe the tension is between a significant number of Agile practitioners who reject project management and Project Managers who misunderstand or reject Agility. I agree that this tension does not need to exist, but it does exist and is something our profession needs to help resolve over time.
Thank you.
Fully agree with you.
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There is always tension when you ask a team member to meet a deadline and hold them accountable . Like Agile Does !
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Thanks for the interesting comments. It's good to see that people don't see conflict between "Agile" and "Project Management" as concepts. As Sergio says, Agile is not about specific process.
(On a side note, a "start point" for Agile is undoubtedly mythical, but I use the Takeuchi and Nonaka HBR article in 1986).
However, I still see the tension "on the ground" as real. Partly through lack of experience of what each approach brings. And the drivers are probably lack of knowledge sharing and the value of the certification industry.
Wade earlier raised the point that a PMP is viewed as a negative in the agile community, and if increased knowledge leads to reduced acceptance, that's a dangerous sign.
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1 reply by Sergio Luis Conte
May 23, 2019 9:19 AM
Sergio Luis Conte
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Just to add some information with the intention to help the article you stated is about Lean, not about Agile. Lean and Agile are not the same. In fact Agile was born to find and evolution or alternative to Lean. I worked in Toyota and then I was part of the forum where Agile was born. No matter that, I encourage people to take a closer look to the diferences (becasue of that I put the references in my previous post) because Agile put organizations one step forward than organizations that use Lean.
Network:1897



May 23, 2019 6:47 AM
Replying to Jay Alphey
...
Thanks for the interesting comments. It's good to see that people don't see conflict between "Agile" and "Project Management" as concepts. As Sergio says, Agile is not about specific process.
(On a side note, a "start point" for Agile is undoubtedly mythical, but I use the Takeuchi and Nonaka HBR article in 1986).
However, I still see the tension "on the ground" as real. Partly through lack of experience of what each approach brings. And the drivers are probably lack of knowledge sharing and the value of the certification industry.
Wade earlier raised the point that a PMP is viewed as a negative in the agile community, and if increased knowledge leads to reduced acceptance, that's a dangerous sign.
Just to add some information with the intention to help the article you stated is about Lean, not about Agile. Lean and Agile are not the same. In fact Agile was born to find and evolution or alternative to Lean. I worked in Toyota and then I was part of the forum where Agile was born. No matter that, I encourage people to take a closer look to the diferences (becasue of that I put the references in my previous post) because Agile put organizations one step forward than organizations that use Lean.
Network:63



Thanks Sergio. As you say, Agile was evolved (at least in part) from Lean. But Schwaber in 1995 referenced Takeuchi and Nonaka as an origin point for his work on Scrum, so it clearly has some Agile validity. I'll leave it to wiser heads than mine to draw a hard line in the progression and say "Agile started here" :-).
I'd argue that classical (and many agile) teams could learn from Lean principles, but the original question was about how we can reduce perceived tension by helping classical teams learn from Agile (and vice-versa) .
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2 replies by Sergio Luis Conte and Wade Harshman
May 23, 2019 3:30 PM
Sergio Luis Conte
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That´s the problem. Agile was create on 1990 with basement into an artilce of 1985 where the Agile term was first used. The article´s name was "Agile Manufacturing". Methods create for sofrware product creation took the basement of Lean. Scrum was create from object orientation and Lean, nor from Agile.
May 24, 2019 9:58 AM
Wade Harshman
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Agile and Lean are different, but definitely related. It's easy to see the similarities.

When discussing agility with business leaders, I have occasionally "translated" agile terms into lean terms in order to help them understand. I've had people tell me that I shouldn't do that, and they may be correct, but if it helps the organization then I'm willing. It's funny, but I've met people who are very resistant to Agile, but if I make the same recommendation using Lean terms and principles then they'll agree to it.
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