Project manager’s dilemma

I worked with great project managers whom all work was centered on them. They treated team members with dignity, they worked long hours, track risks, follow-up actions to conclusion, address organizational impediments, be the single point of contact for the project, take responsibility for project failures instead of pointing to team members,……

The reality is that project manager (PM) constructs a temporary organization, during the project duration, to provide the needed discipline to get things done. Meaning, without this temporary organization, business accomplishments cannot be realized. The whole gamut of project management is founded to address this time tested fact.

Organization’s success becomes dependent on this temporary ‘virtual’ organization, which its CEO is the PM. But this quasi CEO has no authority, while he needs to constantly deal with impediments in the parent organization that stands in the project way. In other words, there is invisible contract between the organization and the project manager, whereas the latter secures his job in return of fill-in for the leaders. This makes the PM’s role one of the riskiest jobs in IT industry.

Why we need to have a PM to tell the organization that it needs to change its practices? For every PM I dealt with, they believed that organizational impediments are the main project’s threats. They are less worry about technology issues, solution complexity, process aspects, training, deadlines and other familiar risks. In many cases such organizational impediments cannot be communicated but rather the PM keeps and cannot even document in the project status or impediments log. The worst quickly happens, when the PM’s reason of existence becomes dependent on the existence of such impediments. Do you think a PM in this environment would have any interest to make such impediments visible?

Agile organizations have leadership at their foundation, which can further reduce the value-add of traditional PM. However, many of traditional PMs transcended to process consultants, enablers for team empowerment, professional facilitators, and other Lean/Agile roles.

Finally, strong PM and Agile/Lean are for me contradictory premises. The more an organization needs a PM, the higher the chance it is not ready or willing to change its long-time organizational impediments.

Scaling Agile what it means? and how to measure it?

Instead of being a goal, Agile for me is enabler for the organization to stay in business and therefore to grow. I believe Scaling Agile is about the effective use of this enabler to solve organizational problems which stand in the way of its own growth. The idea is that it is not definitive on how the organization can grow so that it can remain in business. The organization needs Agile as enabler or tool to uncover such problems and address them. Continue reading

Growth mindset for enterprise Agile adoption

Enterprise Agile adoption goes beyond the project level adoption of Agile to address organizational wide  problems. A strategy for enterprise adoption of Agile can expose those problems, which are to be resolved by its employees (practitioners and managers). Organizations which implement Agile at the project level without solving organizational wide problem are just doing Agile. This has very limited gains to the organization. In this post  I will demonstrate why the growth mindset is needed for the organization to become Agile instead of just doing Agile.

Continue reading

Culture Change for Agile implementation

A fundamental question here is do we need culture change to:

  1. Be able to implement Agile, or
  2. To produce  real value from Agile implementation

Point-2 is where we should aim. We can have point-1 addressed in the form of implementation of a certain Agile framework with its accompanied ceremonies but yet everyone wonders how we improved.

After reading the Cutter’s blog post here by Christopher Avery I had my own reflections in the next concept map.

Image

  1. As change you should stop asking management to change but instead you be the change yourself.
  2. Sharpen your management skills and avoid getting distracted in technical practices.
  3. Play the role of Agile manager starting with observation without introducing changes.
  4. Maintain Improvement Backlog and watch for improvement opportunity.
  5. Introduce change carefully and succeed.
  6. Collaborate with the rest of managers in the organization to enrich and strengthen Agile management movement. Work with them to effect change at the department level.
  7. The ultimate success happens when executives adopt iterative management framework instead of linear management.
  8. Establish relationship with executives at highest possible level. They will support your Agile change initiative and therefore help the organization brings the highest possible value from becoming Agile.

Vulnerability theory and the product manager(owner)

The PM/PO is responsible on the project because he sets the priorities of what to be developed, comes up with deadlines, controls the budget, and in same time he is accountable on customer acceptance.

In this post I shed the light on how a vulnerable PO can be instrumental in delivering what the customer truly wants in Agile set-up.

A non vulnerable PO would avoid facing the development team without having first detailed requirements and probably documented use cases. Her strive to be perfect will preclude the project from the tremendous opportunity which can only happen if the “PO changes her mind”. Continue reading

Vulnerability theory to build Agile teams

According to Brene Brown, Vulnerability is the birth place of Creativity, Innovation and Change. The rest of this blog is my own view on the implementation of Vulnerability in Agile teams.

Creativity is the ability of the team to create customer valued products.

Innovation is the ability of the team and product manager to come up with features which address the real pains of the customer and provide him gains which he hasn’t thought about. Continue reading

Solving our own problems by watching movies

The more I watch movies or read stories, the more I get impressed by the author’s perspectives and rich imagination. Such stories make me wonder about how strange life is. When I face my own life events, I can’t apply what I have learned from those stories. They can enrich my experience but I should find my own way out. Continue reading