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Agile Project Management – Controlled Chaos

Agile Project Management – Controlled Chaos
By Bob Galen

As you may or may not know, I’m an active agile coach. While I have a wonderful day job, I often get asked to enter new teams and jump-start them or assess their overall level of agile-ness. One of the ‘smells’ that I look for in a strong and healthy agile team is what I’ll call controlled chaos or perhaps a better phrase would be guided chaos.

You see, the atmosphere in these teams isn’t safe nor predicted too far in advance. The teams don’t have a false sense of security. They’re working on a short list of features in close collaboration with their Product Owner. They know that challenges will rise up to meet them. Risks will fire. Team members will get sick or get married or tend to ill parents. And the design approaches and code won’t always work as advertised. Read the Complete Article

Beyond Project Plans

Beyond Project Plans
By Jim Highsmith

The Agile community has long advocated self-organizing teams. However, the emphasis has been on how teams perform work, make technical decisions and the like. Most teams are still operating in the same traditional way when it comes to measuring project performance and the application of controls. If empowerment truly focuses on decentralized decisions and authority, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate how we empower teams from a financial and performance perspective. In too many cases we are still binding them to fixed plans.

My inspiration for this blog comes from meeting Bjarte Bogsnes (Vice President Performance Management Development, Statoil, and author of Implementing Beyond Budgeting) recently in Australia at a ThoughtWorks Live event. After talking with Bjarte, I’ve been re-reading his book, which discusses how he helped eliminate budgets in several large companies. One of the insights he gained was thinking about the question, “What do we really use budgets for?” The equivalent question in project terms could be, “What do we use project plans for?” The most obvious answer to that question has three components (you may think of others):

  • Co-ordination with other activities
  • Financial controls
  • Motivation

The insight that Bjarte and others had was that they were using a single number for multiple purposes and that the single number was causing significant problems. Read the Complete Article

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