PMO Analogy

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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

Cruel and Unusual

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lockedToday was my first day of being sequestered.  For those who don’t know, I’ve been named as a technical advisor for a contract source selection committee.  As part of the process, 12 people are to sit in a room and review submitted proposals/quotes. Today was our first day.  What I will say is the time I spent in that room was very painful.  Though I sat on a jury back in 2010, that was nothing compared to this.

I’ve been told that I will be sitting in this room, with no access to the Internet, for 8 hours a day for the next 5 weeks.  I’m not allowed to have my phone turned on.  I’m not allowed to do anything but to read and read and read.  This is not supposed to be punishment.  We were selected because each of us is considered Subject Matter Expert (SME).

Being asked to read hundreds and hundreds of pages of text a day, with no real break, is like cruel and unusual punishment to me.  I’m a guy with ADD and I’ll be in a room with people and not allowed to talk to them.  This should get interesting.

So, I am going to apologize if I’m a little quiet on Twitter.  I will continue to post on my blog at night.  During the day, I plan to drink pots of coffee so I can have as many breaks as the smokers.  That will give me a chance to log in via my phone and see what is happening in the world.

Drawing by Pictofigo

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