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PMO Analogy

As my tenure with the PMO comes to an end, I’ve had an opportunity to reflect on the last two and a half years.  What I realized was how much the PMO was like the U.S. Congress.  If I imagine the organizational structure of the PMO I’ve been supporting, I can imagine the CIO as the President and the PMO Program Director as the Speaker of the House or the Senate Majority Leader.  Beneath the Program Director are the Division Directors (Committee Chairs) and then members of the PMO (Congress in general).  What I’ve found interesting is many (not all) have their own agendas and motives.  Gridlock, not collaboration, is the norm.  Now, am I talking about the PMO or Congress?  I’m not trying to paint the PMO or Congress in an unfavorable light.  To the contrary, these people are all SMEs in their respective areas.  But they’ve seemed to have forgotten the common goal.  They’ve forgotten who the customer is.  In both cases, it’s the American people.

From my perspective, when you’re trying to deliver value, you need to consider all of the options, regardless of your convictions.  I was the sole Agile evangelist in the PMO.  Think of me as a lobbyist representing the American people.  I did what I could to help the Government understand and to be receptive to new ideas.  But what the PMO failed to grasp was Agile is much more than a way to deliver software products.

I think Michele Sliger put it very well:

Being agile means that teams are working in ways that allow for change in order to better work together and provide a more useful and meaningful product to the customer.

My final days with the PMO will be like a long retrospective.  What went well during this engagement? What could be improved in the next engagement?

HT: Michele Sliger

About Derek Huether

I'm Vice President of ALM Platforms at LeadingAgile. Author of Zombie Project Management (available on Amazon). Novice angel investor.

One Response to “PMO Analogy”

  1. May 13, 2011 at 10:10 am

    Great post Derek and a great analogy.  This is truly a problem for any organization that wants to undertake some change to better deliver on the services, regardless of the delivery method they choose; agile, waterfall, or any other.  Whenever a leader of an organization thinks in a myopic fashion and only what is good for them or their organization/team, then they harm the value to the true customers.  In Kanban world, this would be local optimization at the expense of trying to make the full process effective (which would require putting aside my myopic view and working collaboratively with others).

    Again congrats on the new job! 
    Cheers!
    Paul

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