How to be Successful with Agile at Scale

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Ever asked yourself how you could be successful with Agile at scale? Let me show you how we’ve done it at LeadingAgile.

In this one hour session that I presented to the PM Symposium in Washington DC, I explained how we’ve been successful by focusing on culture last and predictability first.


Agile Project Leader Job

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Job Search

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: , , , ,

P in your Network

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Welcome to our ool

Welcome to our oolI’ve recently been paying more attention to signs and indicators. Though Stop signs or Yield signs are a given, I’m talking signs that you find around homes (Welcome to our ool. Notice there is no “P” in it. Let’s keep it that way) and businesses (Drink coffee. Do stupid things faster with energy).

Last night, I attended the monthly APLN DC (Washington DC Chapter of the Agile Project Leadership Network). When friend and colleague Manoj Vadakkan kicked off the event last night, he announced that both the name (APLN) and logo had changed.  It will now be known as the Agile Leadership Network.  After telling people for the last few years that they could leverage agile principles and values in areas other than software development or just projects, I’m happy to see the change.  It should certainly help reinforce concepts like servant-leadership, outside of the application development world.  I went to the “new” ALN website and read a message on behalf of the board of directors.

In keeping with the agile spirit, APLN has continued to evolve since its inception. Over the last year or so, the national board has had an ongoing discussion about “getting the ‘P’ out”. That’s ‘P’ as in ‘Project’; as in Agile ‘Project’ Leadership Network. Why do that?

As agile practices for software development projects have become more prominent, broader application of agile principles and values has come more to the forefront. It is not that we no longer want to talk about these projects; we do and will. But we also want to talk about more than projects and we think the 10-year anniversary of the Agile Manifesto is an appropriate milestone to recognize that evolution.

Let this be notice to everyone out there to start updating their websites or documents listing APLN.

Measuring Success in NYC

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When you have a project, you need to find out from the customer how they will judge the success of the project.  Don’t go off giving the team high 5’s and leave the customer scratching their head looking at the bill.  At the inception of the project and at the identification of each deliverable, get agreement from the customer as to success criteria.

I just returned from a trip to New York.  Let’s use that trip to illustrate my point.  My wife and I will represent the customers.  Both of us had a different measurement of success.

For my wife, the trip would be a success if we made it to the Gershwin on time to see Wicked.  For me, the trip would be a success if I got to have dinner at John’s Pizzeria.

We identified contingency plans, so we could have different levels of success.  [1] Drive almost an hour and a half to Union Station in Washington DC.

Milestone 1 – Success

[2] Take the train to Penn Station in New York.

Milestone 2 – Success

[3] Get to the W Hotel in Time Square and check in.

Milestone 3 – Success

[4] Get to the Gershwin Theater

Milestone 4 – Success (Customer #1 is 100% satisfied)

The show was really good.  If you haven’t seen it, I would recommend it.  It was odd seeing some people not dressed up.  Call me old fashioned but if you’re going to the theater, it wouldn’t hurt you to dress up.

[5] The next milestone was get to John’s Pizzeria.  I just wanted a pie and a beer.

Milestone 5 – Success (Customer #2 is 100% satisfied)

After dinner, we returned to the hotel and then spent the evening in Time Square.  Last time we were in there, I proposed.  Not a coincidence, our hotel room was right over the spot where I popped the question. Since I take everything so seriously, we then went to a toy store, where I was promptly attacked by a Transformer.  Needless to say, that was not on my risk register.

Thank you to my wife for allowing me to check in via Foursquare and Gowalla.  I didn’t do it a lot.

How was your weekend?

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)

MS Project Task Types – Fixed Work – Units – Duration

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Upon reviewing a vendor’s Integrated Master Schedule, created in MS Project, I noticed something very peculiar. Where some tasks could clearly be marked as Fixed Duration, everything was Fixed Units.  I think there are two answers for this.  Either there was a misunderstanding about the work to be performed or the person doing the schedule needs some help understanding task types.  I believe working with MS Project can make your eyes bleed if you’re not used to it.  But if you’re armed with just a little information about task types, it can be a whole lot easier.

I would love to go into a detailed explanation about Fixed Work, Fixed Units, and Fixed Duration.  If I did, however, you’d probably leave my site never to return.   Instead, I found a very helpful video on YouTube.  Why go hunting for this stuff when you can just find it here?