Friday, November 5, 2010

John Marshall?

Well, John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it
POTUS Andrew Jackson, 1832

What, might you ask, does a dispute between Georgia, the Cherokee Indians, and the Chief Justice Marshall have to do with project management?

It's a matter of federalism: is the PM--as the central authority--still relevant?

YES! Read on...

Jackson was an union agilist....at least when he took office. POTUS Jackson originally thought Marshall's reasoning was wrong and the states should be able to decide for themselves which federal statutes to follow, but within a few months Jackson reversed himself.

In the project context, this comes to the fore when agile methods are introduced that challenge the role of the PM [playing the part of USA] and agile teams [playing the part of states].

And, the question at hand is: What decisions and directions of the PM--specifically those for which the authorities are not enumerated in the project charter--are to be followed by the teams, and by what means does the PM 'enforce' decisions?

Even if you diss the conventional 'command and control' ideas of the PMBOK, unless you are a one-team project, all teams are--or should be--'federated' under the leadership of the PM.

The PM has the responsibility--and retains the responsibility--to set standards, values, and doctrine; to establish strategic direction; and to evaluate and give credit for earned value, leaving tactics to the agile teams.

Indeed, the strategic-tactical tension is the strength of agile methods: those who are closest to the problem devine and execute the means to do things; but those closest to the intent of the enterprise set the strategy and the standards, and evaluate progress.  When things go off track, it's the PM that directs recovery.

Works for me!

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