Agile Project Leader Job

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Job SearchSome Just Don’t Get It

I’ve seen way too many job postings in the last year, asking for Agile Project Managers.  These postings are basically Project Manager positions with some Agile language thrown into the mix.  It’s actually quite frustrating to read them.  I just shake my head and know that they just don’t get it.  If asked if an agilist should apply for the job, I would say run as fast as you can in the other direction.  Today, I was sent a link to the job posting below.  I just happen to know the hiring manager.  After reading it, I nodded and murmured “she gets it”.

 She Gets it

So many times, Human Resources writes up these job advertisements.  They don’t have a clue as to what they are writing.  They don’t realize how contradictory the titles and essential duties and responsibilities can be.  As Agile coaches and trainers, I wonder if we sometimes are ignoring teams who could really use our help. I’m talking about an HR department.  Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to give them some insights into what businesses need rather then what they advertise for?  I’ve read ads for Agile Project Leaders and in the next sentence saw responsibilities that included maintaining Gantt charts, controlling scope, budget, and schedule.

I want to thank the person who wrote the ad below.  Again, she gets it!  As a result, I believe she will get more qualified applicants for this job who can help her business deliver value.

Agile Project Leader
Valpak
Largo, FL, United States
Full-Time
Summary:Leadership of technology-focused projects and teams relying on Agile values and principles.  This position assumes the role of ScrumMaster, Kanban Lead, and/or Project Manager depending on the work at hand. The focus of this position is on delivering value over meeting constraints, leading the team over managing tasks, and adapting to change over conforming to plans.
Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

  1. In the Project Manager role, leads complex initiatives across multiple functions and teams by planning, directing, and coordinating to the project objectives with consideration for risk.
  2. In the ScrumMaster role, facilitates the Scrum process of planning, daily stand-ups, reviews, and retrospectives with team and Product Owner and proactively removes impediments to progress.
  3. In the Kanban Lead role, facilitates the Kanban process with team and stakeholders and proactively removes impediments to progress.
  4. Leads and contributes to the decision making process and facilitates conflict resolution.
  5. Embraces, coaches, and evangelizes Agile values and principles across the organization and in the community.
  6. Defines and refines Agile metrics to understand team performance.
  7. Works with management and other Agile Project Leaders to continually identify and implement organization-wide process improvements
  8. Performs related work and additional duties as needed or required.

Image Source: Pictofigo

Categories: Agile, Project Management Tags: Tags: , , , ,

30 Second Agile Pitch

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30 second Agile pitch

I was just over at the AgileScout website and read an entertaining account of his trip to the supermarket.  It went a little something like this:

This past weekend, like every weekend, I go to Whole Foods with my wife for our weekly food run. While sampling some of the very good wine, I ran into an old neighbor that I hadn’t seen in years.

We ended up having a long conversation about his company doing this whole “Agile and Scrum thing.” I found myself saying things like the following to help clarify his questions:

  • “Yes, that is Agile.”
  • “No, that’s not a Scrum principle.”
  • “Yes, that’s part of iterative development.”
  • “Well, that isn’t explicitly in Agile…”
  • “Well, Scrum doesn’t prescribe you to do…
  • “No, that would be waterfall…”
  • “Can we… I… get back to drinking free wine?…”

30 second Agile pitchThis reminded me of a very similar experience I had when my wife and I met some friends for dinner. One of them asked what I did exactly.  When I offered a 30 second explanation and included Agile, I got a quick “we do that at work” response. I was pleasantly surprised so I asked in what ways they leveraged Agile principles and approaches. Now, I’m no dogmatic Agilist but the follow-up response had me shaking my head. I wasn’t going to outright argue with her but she correlated doing something as fast as possible as being Agile. No collaboration, no planning, monitoring, or adapting. To her, anarchy and Agile were pretty much synonymous.

For all of you project managers, project leaders, facilitators, ScrumMasters, coaches or whatever you may call yourself, what would be your 30 second pitch?  Do you think you could explain what you do (to a layman) in 30 seconds?  I’d love hear some of your pitches.

Image: Pictofigo
HT: AgileScout

The Critical Path Week Ending February 28

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January 28 through February 5Due to working crazy off hours in preparation for my v1.0 launch, I not only forgot to do a week in review on the 20th, I also missed meeting my writing commitment on the 24th and 25th.  Whatever the excuses, I was feeling a little burned out.  I have to remember this is a marathon and not a sprint.  Writing a daily blog takes a lot of discipline.  Though I have so much to say, it can escape me if I don’t get the idea captured quickly.  Wow, it’s hard to believe it’s almost March.  At least there should be viewer posts about snow removal.

2/26/2010

Putting Things In Perspective

I had mild chest and shoulder pains this morning. I am in the ER waiting to see the doctor. I’ll let you know the outcome and my status shortly…

2/23/2010

Satisfying Needed Scope Versus Wants

There are many templates and means to ensure your project meets the requirements.  But I can’t stress enough how important it is to ensure you’re working to satisfy the requirements (or scope) first…

2/22/2010

The Hateful Cycle of Apathy Hits a Nerve

Have you ever stuck your neck out and get no support?  Did the trust among that team start to break down? I’ve seen it happen first hand and Geoff Crane wrote an awesome post over at Papercut Edge about it…

2/21/2010

How To Prevent Your Project From Hemorrhaging

This post is in response to a post written by Jennifer Bedell on the PMStudent blog about goldplating. Goldplating is very common in application development and can be very expensive…

2/20/2010

How Owners Managers and Leaders Differ

I was asked a very interesting question today, requiring me to stop and think. How do I believe being an entrepreneur and a business owner differ? It’s a very good question because…

2/19/2010

What You Need Is Some Kaizen

While sitting in a governance meeting the other day, I heard how (before I joined the team) a vendor brought in some high paid six sigma black belts to…

2/18/2010

How to Thank a Managed Camel

I was informed I am the winner of the very first Freedom of Speech February (FOSF) giveaway from How to Manage a Camel.  My comments last week on a blog post by Gary Holmes earned me a free copy of the Method123 Project Management Methodology (MPMM™) Professional from their partners at Method123…

2/17/2010

Creeping Ever So Closer To Closure

As my startup project is creeping ever so closer to its closure and the actual launch of the product happens, I’m feverishly completing activities late into the night.  It’s not easy working crazy hours to get this done.  My family goes to bed, I drink a pot of coffee, and get to work…

2/16/2010

Interesting PMI Perspective On Claiming PDUs

…Based on the telephone conversation I had, if you’ve worked as a PM for at least 6 months, you can claim 5 PDUs.  Otherwise, if you are able to say you spend more than 1,500 hours per calendar year in that roll, you also qualify to claim the 5 PDUs…

2/15/2010

Getting Exactly What You Want

I just wrapped up a week long logo design project at 99Designs, with an intellectual property transfer agreement.  Flash back to August 2009, when I was watching Episode 13 of This Week in Startups

How Owners Managers and Leaders Differ

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I was asked a very interesting question today, requiring me to stop and think. How do I believe being an entrepreneur and a business owner differ? It’s a very good question because if you don’t know either an entrepreneur or business owner, I don’t know how any textbook answer would satisfy.

From my perspective, a business owner’s identity is merely the act of having and controlling property.  They could potentially inherit the family business, therefore becoming a business owner.  They could be very excited or could care less, looking for an exit strategy.

Entrepreneurs, on the other hand are passionate, committed, skilled, creators of value.  They create because they have a fire in their belly.  As an entrepreneur, they can’t help themselves.  It’s in their DNA.  They are so laser focused on what they are trying to create, people can either think they are crazy or brilliant.  But, with that charisma, people will be inspired and follow.

These contrasts aren’t too far off from Project Managers and Project Leaders. PMI defines a Project Manager (PMBoK Page 444) as the person assigned by the performing organization to achieve the project objectives. As I wrote in a previous post, there are several contrasts between a manager and a leader (Bennis & Goldsmith 1997)

  • Managers administer; leaders innovate.
  • Managers ask how and when; leaders ask what and why.
  • Managers focus on systems; leaders focus on people.
  • Managers do things right; leaders do the right things.
  • Managers maintain; leaders develop.
  • Managers rely on control; leaders inspire trust.
  • Managers have short-term perspective; leaders have long-term perspective.
  • Managers accept the status-quo; leaders challenge the status-quo.
  • Managers have an eye on the bottom line; leaders have an eye on the horizon.
  • Managers imitate; leaders originate.
  • Managers emulate the classic good soldier; leaders are their own person.
  • Managers copy; leaders show originality.

So, what are you?  Are you happy? Why?

(image by apogeehps.com)

The Impact Of Social Networking On Project Management

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A few years back, while studying for the PMP exam, I committed the formula for calculating communications paths to memory.

[N(N-1)]/2

So, what’s the big deal? Why is it so important? If you’re in the Project Management (or leadership) field, you know all too well how important communications is. I used to call myself a project manager. I now prefer to use the term project leader. What’s the difference? According to Warren Bennis and Dan Goldsmith (1997) there are 12 distinctions between managers and leaders.

  • Managers administer; leaders innovate.
  • Managers ask how and when; leaders ask what and why.
  • Managers focus on systems; leaders focus on people.
  • Managers do things right; leaders do the right things.
  • Managers maintain; leaders develop.
  • Managers rely on control; leaders inspire trust.
  • Managers have short-term perspective; leaders have long-term perspective.
  • Managers accept the status-quo; leaders challenge the status-quo.[*]
  • Managers have an eye on the bottom line; leaders have an eye on the horizon.
  • Managers imitate; leaders originate.
  • Managers emulate the classic good soldier; leaders are their own person.
  • Managers copy; leaders show originality.

In order to both innovate and do the right things, I listen and listen a LOT. (Some people listen; some wait to talk) I’ve watched executives and managers, who knew absolutely nothing about a subject, make uneducated decisions because they were too stubborn or proud to consult a subject matter expert (SME). Good leaders do not operate in a vacuum. They exchange ideas and information with people. Offer free information and it will come back to you tenfold. Listen to knowledgeable people and then make a more educated leadership decision.

Social Media CampaignWhere does social media fit into the grand scheme of things? Old-school managers and executives who believe in the bureaucratic organization and status quo, tend to lean toward command-and-control or top-down management. That group is operating under the assumption people higher in the organizational chart know more. New-school leaders believe in social media. Why? It strips away all of the nonsense and connects people to people. They have real conversations as human beings. They educate and they listen with a freedom to connect at an exponential rate. They are not confined to the notion of an hierarchical organization.

My example is my current engagement, which I have been at for 13 months: Within my direct cross-functional organization chart, I have 28 contacts to interface with. There are no plans to increase the size of this group. [28(28-1)]/2 is 378 communication paths. Not too bad.

TwitterTurn now to option number two, social media like Twitter and Facebook. For arguments sake, I’ll say I have 200 followers on Twitter with a growth rate of 10% a month. (I’m actually have 450+ and counting)  Each Twitter Follower is a communications path.

[200(200-1)]/2 = 19,900 communication paths

After one month it would be projected to increase to 21,945 communication paths

Every Friday, people I follow on Twitter recommend others in the industry who I should consider following (#followfriday). Every week, I learn more about my craft and more importantly I get to form relationships with people all over the world. By bypassing the organizational structure to get my information, inbound communications is at a much higher velocity and is now flowing up through the organization.

Social Media helps you be a project leader.


12 distinctions between managers and leaders by Bennis, Warren and Dan Goldsmith. Learning to Lead. Massachusetts: Persus Book, 1997.
Thank you Laurel Papworth for the use of the Social Media Campaign image

* I recommend reading Fighting Status Quo by Pawel Brodzinski