Friday, April 20, 2012

Agile sailors

I recently gave a presentation to a PMI chapter on Agile project management using a sailing race analogy. I've used this analogy before, but this time there was some Q&A that was worth passing along.

The first thing is that audience was shocked (shocked!) to learn that agile projects have plans, and even more shocking that earned value concepts (that is: earning some value for the investment made) is also alive and well.

The second thing is that those from large companies lamented (I won't say complained because they didn't) that executive managers had little idea about the change in management paradigm that is the most pervasive aspect of agile. It's not the technical practices: those are largely like those in other software methodologies. But it's the change in management practices and thought that is different.

What's different?
  • What's different is that best value is preferred over a fixed scope specification;
  • what's different is that matrix management at the team level, sprint to sprint, must be put aside;
  • what's different is that the team, in collaboration with someone holding the customer/users proxy has to be trusted to apply the available investment is the best possible way; and
  • what's different is that the project manager manages to milestones that have user/customer/stakeholder value and not to the details of a networked CPM schedule.

Take a look and see if you don't agree