Being successful with Agile is not just about holding stand-up meetings and scheduling feature work in sprints. Organizations starting their Agile journey face the classic conflict between autonomy and control. Are the people outside a team truly willing to let that team operate in "lighter process, less directed" manner? In our lead article this week, Geof Lory explains the issues and provides a model for assessing just where an organization is, in terms of allowing team autonomy while providing adequate guidance via alignment on direction and goals. Then we've highlighted additional resources on aspects of implementing Agile, achieving alignment on goals, and fostering great teams, so you can go deeper in the areas of most interest.
How Guided Team Autonomy Drives Successful Agile
One of the things I talk with organizations about when they are considering agile is the way in which the culture supports teaming. Agile is intentionally light on processes and requires strong self-organizing teams to replace the externally governed processes of more traditional approaches. If you remove the processes without adding the teaming, you can get anarchy or total confusion. Neither of these is the intended outcome of agile.
Most organizations will not admit that they are not supportive of self-organizing teams and in fact most pride themselves in strong teamwork, at least verbally. But when you ask the individuals on those teams how they feel about their level of autonomy, most will express quite the opposite. This is usually reflected through comments and actions that indicate a strong culture of cascading command and control with heavy oversight and micromanagement.
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Spotlight – Other Project Templates, Tools, and Techniques
From the Blogs: Executive steps for making agility easy
Want all the highly-touted benefits of going Agile? Want it to really work, and stick? It won't come from simply mandating a switch to Agile methods. In this archive blog post Brian Irwin goes past the methods to the environment in which those methods will exist. He outlines 10 steps executives need to take to make Agile work, by making it "the path of least resistance" and the easiest way to get things done.
From the Blogs: Sanity check! Strong goals alignment or lurking scope leap?
"Monitoring" schedule tasks and status isn't enough to be sure you're really on track. And "controlling" the project by reacting to scope creep when it happens is not the most fun way to spend your time. Here is a personal checklist to use — to act like a project detective, be sure the right goals-oriented foundation is set for the team, recognize pre-cursors of nasty scope creep or leap, and take action to stop those disruptions from happening at all.
From the Blogs: Great teams don't "hope"!
Hope is not a sound project management strategy! Though our plans are probably not 80% hope, if we're not careful we build in hope in a variety of places, especially around things we've had trouble with before and feel we have no control or authority over. "I hope the priorities don't change mid-stream." "I hope the customer doesn't change their minds". "I hope we can get a real commitment from that functional group." Recognizing project "hopes" floating throughout your team, and knowing how to channel them, can be a huge source of power and energy for the project, and even a morale-booster when things are difficult.
From the Blogs: What is your team missing to be able to thrive?
We can't "make" team members meet deadlines, be positive, work together incredibly well... So what's our role in helping a team be "great" – effective, thriving, happy, high-performing? There are no silver bullets, but there are things we can do. This archive post from Sinikka Waugh gives us a new way to think about what we owe our teams each day to stop just hoping, wishing, or expecting, and start "being what's missing."
Template: Checklist for Trying Out Agile One Project at a Time – SPECIAL
This Premium resource is free to registered Members until October 15, 2015
Project teams starting out with agile adoptions often struggle trying to figure out how to get started. The good news is that you don't have to rip up the organization to get some fast wins. This checklist helps a project team try out Agile techniques and be as successful as possible that first time, while not requiring wholesale changes to the organization's processes.
Audio Mini-Course: Trying Out Agile One Project At a Time
This recorded webinar by Kent McDonald shows how teams can get quick success with Agile methods by trying them out carefully, one project at a time. Comes with a bundle 8 Agile technique templates plus the 90 minute session recording. 1.5 Cat A PDUs.
To help participants develop purpose, vision, negotiating, influence, and sales skills, Alfonso Bucero and Randy Englund present "Integrating People, Organizational, and Technical Skills: The Complete Project Manager," October 7-10, 2015, in Orlando, Florida, prior to the PMI Global Congress. They also conduct this session December 7-10 in San Diego, California for PMI SeminarsWorld.
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