Project Management

Some agileist live in an alternative universe

I have worked in many different types of projects: large government contract with more than 600 people; small projects with five to seven people; software development projects with fewer than 60 people; client organizations in different industries. In all of my experience, I have never worked on a project where the teams worked with no constraints or oversight.

Lately, I have seen a stream of message on the social media sites where agiliest pretend to work without boundaries in complete autonomy. I have seen statements such as metrics absolutely none is agile; we decide what we will deliver [in the context of we don’t have to commit ever].

These comments lead me to believe that some agiliest live on an alternative universe.

  • All projects have stakeholders. The project sponsors deserve to know how the team is proceeding towards the goal regarding features, budget, time, and quality. They desire to be informed about risks and the teams’ plans to address the risks. Even agile projects have metrics, e.g., velocity, escaped defects, cycle time.
  • Self-organizing, self-directed, self-whatever does not mean that you can change the direction of the project without coordinating with the sponsor. The product owner (be it Product Owner in Scrum, Customer in Extreme Programming, Domain Specialist, or User Delegate) is responsible to align the scope with the stakeholders and keep the project driving towards that direction. If the link between the team and the stakeholders is weak or broken, take steps to fix it. Hold a retrospective with the product owner or the stakeholders to discuss the problem and potential resolutions.

My advice to misguided agileist is to join the real world and get some proper training or coaching.

In my experience and research, regardless of the number of issues faced by agile projects, agile projects do not fail more than other projects. However, a good understanding of what it means to be agile is necessary. The following are two of my publications on the topic of going agile and avoiding the problem, challenges, and failures.

  1. G. Miller, [amazon text=Going Agile Project Management Practices&asin=098864830X]. Atlanta: Maxmetrics LLC, 2013.
  2. G. J. Miller, “Agile Problems, Challenges, & Failures,” in PMI Global Congress Proceedings , New Orleans, Louisana, 2013.

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