Welcome to Agile Colony. These are my thoughts, opinions, experience and viewpoints about Leadership, Corporate Culture, Agile Software frameworks, Technology Trends and other various aspects of Business Technology.
“Wanted, Agile Project Manager…or Agile Expert/Guru, Agile Coach/Trainer or Certified Scrum Master”…sounds awesome right? Perhaps.
Most jobs requiring agile knowledge and expertise genuinely do come from true agile shops or shops that have hit the wall with other methods and sincerely want to make the transition, but be careful, know the warning signs of “not so agile” or “agile wanna-be” shops.
Agile has been all the rage for many years, it’s really old news. Startups and small companies don’t know anything but agile frameworks and in my experience, execute scrum/xp, FDD, Kanban and other frameworks to the letter. It’s the big I.T. houses that worry me the most. I am a huge fan of them taking the steps towards Agile methods, but when I see things in job postings such as:
“Experience with all phases of the project management lifecycle”
“Must be able to work in both Waterfall and Agile environments”
“Proven ability to manage both matrix and direct resources”
“Six Sigma and/or PMI certification”
“Expertise required in Microsoft Project”
…I have to think a big, “Say What?” on all counts. These are not bad requests, they make sense for a lot of companies, but a true agile company? That doesn’t seem right at all. There’s a lot of “heavy weight” process assumption in those statements. There’s also a “we can’t staff projects with 100% dedicated resources” sound with using the term “matrix resources”. Microsoft Project? Really? I would have expected ScrumWorks, VersionOne…how about even Xplanner?
One could dismiss most of this If there were a disclaimer or a requirement in the posting that clearly stated this is a company making the transition to agile.
In short, read the fine print. There are many great agile shops delivering working product in tight iterations with high quality and not all the compliance and administrative needs. Look before you leap or you might land in a staunchly traditional development shop posing as one that practices agile properly. It is a VERY common reality my agile purist friends.
If you don’t have the luxury of working for a true, agile organization or you are struggling with an agile transformation from predictive methodologies, take a huge step back and focus on one tenant of agility; the Daily Stand Up Meeting.
So many companies (especially larger firms) fail to incorporate agile in their I.T. departments because it requires such a broad change in thinking, style and execution. Asking hundreds of developers, testers and especially management to make these changes is difficult. So much buy-in is required across larger corporations that what tends to happen is that an I.T. department will have a certain percentage of people using agile and the rest resisting passively or actively by using more traditional delivery methods. No harm, no foul, change is hard.
So take another route. Just ask every project team to use the short, daily stand up meeting used by all agile frameworks. I suggest this because the stand up meeting is cheap, easy, quick and within days, makes total sense to all participants. It makes sense because people realize quickly that for a minimal effort on their part, the team generates a massive amount of daily “group intelligence” for the project. Everyone knows what every team member is working on and what they will do next. The entire team knows the constraints and the gravity issues immediately, every day.
This one tenant of agile is so basic, so simplistic in design, yet yields so much data to project managers and upper management who participate.
If you’re struggling in “big corporate” with agile, don’t use a hammer, just allow people to find their own way with agile practices that help all types of project management styles without labeling it, “agile”. Sometimes the word “agile” is polarizing. Let this one, common sense meeting do all the talking for you. You’ll be amazed how quickly you see stand up meetings popping up around your company and your coworkers will have that “ah ha” moment on their own.
The Agile Stand Up Meeting - common sense, easy to do, lots to gain.