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Going Agile: Top Barriers and Accelerators for Team Adoption

Going Agile: Top Barriers and Accelerators for Team Adoption
By Roger Kastner

So you’ve made the decision to embrace Agile methodology and received approval to start implementing. Congrats! Now the hard work begins.

Many organizations and teams have successfully made the switch to Agile methodology, but not without first resolving some resistance from both the team and outside organization. Understanding these adoption challenges ahead of time is the best way to prepare to lead your team and ready your organization for Agile transformation.

The discipline and methods for driving Agile adoption, called organizational change management, can help accelerate the process. Fortunately, Agile methodology and change management work hand in hand to produce better results because they share many of the same principles:

  • Engagement: Encourage more employees to participate in the development and implementation of leadership vision and decisions.
  • Dialogue: Increase understanding of what changes mean, why they’re happening, and how they relate to each individual through direct conversations.

Read the Complete Article

Why Projects Succeed: Organizational Change Management

Why Projects Succeed: Organizational Change Management
By Roger Kastner

Is change management or project management more critical to project success?

Before you answer, let me tell you about two examples that might impact your response.

Like many of you, I’ve been on a few projects where I was able to appropriately set and deliver on expectations on scope, schedule, and budget (“on time, on budget, high five!”), only to have the end product of the project be a big fat zero in the marketplace.

One project I successfully led to an on-time and on-budget release had to be turned off six hours after being launched. The features in the newly released product generated such negative reaction in the marketplace that our company experienced a huge spike in complaints to the call center. The call volume was so high that it triggered a rarely used company policy allowing our customer care team to remove the new release from production without conferring with our product owner. Read the Complete Article

Why Projects Succeed: Take Corrective Action

Why Projects Succeed: Take Corrective Action
By Roger Kastner

“Everyone has a plan, until they get punched in the mouth.” —Mike Tyson

Maybe you’ve heard the project manager axiom “plan the work, work the plan,” which suggests there’s value in both creating a plan and then closely managing that plan. But to Mike Tyson’s point, shouldn’t you also have a plan for when the original plan unexpectedly doesn’t work?

I’ve had the privilege to speak to over 1,000 practitioners over the years at project management presentations and classes, and in almost every instance I ask each audience to, “raise your hand if you’ve ever been on a project that did not have some unforeseen problem knock the project sideways to the point of putting the objectives at significant risk?” How many hands do you think I’ve seen over the years?

(Well, OK, there was one, but the person was referring to a two-week “project.” So I’ve learned to phrase the question differently.)

So, if 99.9% of the practitioners I’ve spoken with have had something significant and unforeseen knock 100% their projects sideways, of course you would expect the capability of “take corrective action” to be a core expectation of all projects managers, right? Read the Complete Article

Why Projects Succeed: The Right Resources

Why Projects Succeed: The Right Resources
By Roger Kastner

Project success is dependent on having the right resources, doing the right work at the right time. Presuming that the successful Project Manager will have shepherded the process to identify the appropriate scope and aligned the critical path and schedule dependencies, let’s talk about having the right people assigned and performing the work.

The right resources will have three characteristics: capability, experience, and motivation. In other words, they can do the work, they’ve done similar work before, and they’re inspired to succeed.

Capability

When identifying scope and associated tasks and deliverables, the successful Project Manager will also ensure that appropriate resource capabilities are identified. By identifying the correct resource requirements, the successful Project Manager will be able to request the correct resources. Doing so will help ensure that the project doesn’t have people with skills less than required to do the job, and it should also prevent over-clubbing, that is, assigning a resource with a skill-level well above what is required. Read the Complete Article

Why Projects Succeed: Defining Success

Why Projects Succeed: Defining Success
By Roger Kastner

Why Projects Succeed is a blog series in which Slalom Business Architect Roger Kastner sheds light on key factors behind the art and science of successful project management and invites readers to discuss how they apply across different environments.

A while ago I wrote about the importance of Clear Business Objectives as a true north to keep big picture focus on, to base and prioritize decisions by, and to know when we have achieved success. I was recently thinking about how success gets defined but I wasn’t in the office nor facing a room full of clients and sponsors. Instead I was staring into the eyes of a different set of stakeholders: a team of nine-year-old soccer players at the end-of-the-season soccer party.

As I was preparing my season wrap-up speech, I started to think about how I as the coach defined success for the team. Read the Complete Article

Why Projects Succeed: Minimize Scope and Requirements

Why Projects Succeed: Minimize Scope and Requirements
By Roger Kastner

Whether measured by schedule and budget, scope attainment, stakeholder expectation management, end user adoption, or market success, leading a project to a successful conclusion is challenging. What might be surprising to know is sometimes the challenges are self-inflicted, and one of the leading causes of self-inflicted project failure is attempting to do too much.

The Standish Group, a technology research and consulting firm, studies IT projects and annually produces their “chaos” report which includes statistics on rates of project success, as defined as being on-time and on-budget. In 2009, the Standish Group found that 32% of the IT projects they surveyed were “successful” as defined by on-time and on-scope. Additionally, since some projects successfully hit their on-budget and on-schedule targets but fail to hit the mark with consumers or are not adopted by end-users, the Standish Group might have these in the win/success column however they will never be called a success by stakeholders because they did not deliver on ROI. Read the Complete Article

Why Projects Succeed: Project Leadership Part 4

Why Projects Succeed: Project Leadership Part 4
By Roger Kastner

Why Projects Succeed is a blog series in which Slalom Business Architect Roger Kastner sheds light on key factors behind the art and science of successful project management and invites readers to discuss how they apply across different environments.

In this series on Project Leadership, I wrote about the principles of Project Leadership Part 1, and Part 2, and highlighted how these principles make for great Project Leaders. In my last post, Becoming a Project Leader vol 1, the third article in this Project Leadership series, I wrote about the key step in becoming a Project Leader is to be intentional about the little things that set the foundation for becoming a leader. In this article, I want to highlight the focus or attitude a Project Manager should have when becoming a leader.

In some organizations, “leadership” is thought of as something that comes with a title and in most environments in times of status quo, the organizational behavior supports those with the titles. Read the Complete Article

Why Projects Succeed: Risk Identification

Why Projects Succeed: Risk Identification
By Roger Kastner

Why Projects Succeed is a blog series in which Slalom Business Architect Roger Kastner sheds light on key factors behind the art and science of successful project management and invites readers to discuss how they apply across different environments.

In the previous article of this series, I wrote that the value of Proactive Risk Management is in the ability to identify and plan for all the issues that may knock the project sideways. The purpose of this is specifically so you have the bandwidth to deal with those unforeseen elements that are going knock you sideways no matter what you do to prepare.

This time I want to focus on the inputs of Risk Management, the Risk Identification process, and a specific way to identify risks early in the process that also measures how the project team feels about the feasibility of the project. Read the Complete Article

Why Projects Succeed – Proactive Risk Management

Why Projects Succeed – Proactive Risk Management
By Roger Kastner

This article is part of a series, the previous article can be found here.

The art and science of Risk Management is so important to the success of a project that I’m going to take the next three articles to talk about it.

Most of what’s written about Risk Management is clearly based in the science of Project Management: how to calculate risk factors, the four types of risk responses, the thresholds for Risk severity, and so on. These are all important, no doubt. However, I want to spend some time focusing on the social skills required for proactive Risk Management and how the art of Risk Management contributes to a successful project.

All projects will be knocked sideways at some point. Guaranteed. It is an immutable law of Project Management, like the need to balance a project’s Triple Constraints (scope, schedule, and budget), and that Project Managers will sometimes resemble the pointy-haired boss in Dilbert. Read the Complete Article

Why Projects Succeed – Articulating the Value of Project Management

Why Projects Succeed – Articulating the Value of Project Management
By Roger Kastner

This article is part of a series, the previous article can be found here.

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

A number of years ago on a Friday afternoon, a Product Manager asked me if I wanted to get coffee and discuss a current issue on our project. I had a status report due in 30 minutes and asked if we could go later. At first the Product Manager hesitated and then he quoted something from the movie Office Space, asking if my eight managers would hound me about a late “TPS report.” Then he thought another moment and dropped the above Emerson quotation on me.

“What?! It’s due at 3pm every Friday!” I pleaded. He responded, “What’s going to happen if it gets turned in late, or not at all? Read the Complete Article

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