Planbox is glad to present this guest blog post by Crazie Eddie aka Pat Gray. Pat Gray is a writer, irreverent project manager, dog-lover, ex-wage slave and common sense champion cruising down the information super-highway. She Tweets as @Crazie_Eddie and @Pat_Gray.
“Progress has little to do with speed, but much to do with direction.”-Jorgen Larsen
I spotted this quote on Twitter and for some reason it got me thinking about Agile development and Agile project management.
When I originally heard about this new faster way of delivering projects, I was skeptical. I should probably confess at this point that I bill myself as the “Irreverent Project Manager”. I’m not impressed with project management methodologies in general. I’m definitely not impressed with companies and PMO’s falling under the spell of the latest fad methodology, whether it gets the job done faster or not.
I do, however, like the idea of getting projects over with quickly and not just because it makes the customers and upper management happy. Actually, like many people, I prefer the “enthusiasm” phase of projects to the “panic and hysteria” or “search for the guilty” phases, and the sooner you’re done, the sooner the next “enthusiasm” phase begins.
Having said that, I think speed for the sake of speed in a project, especially speed without direction, is kind of like a taking a spin in speedboat without a steering wheel – the ride (your project’s progress) is going to be exciting, over quickly and probably end in disaster.
However, I looked into agile development and agile project management anyway and despite myself, I was kind of impressed for several reasons.
First, the agile development manifesto is a list of only twelve points which focus on delivery, team organization and customer satisfaction rather than a complicated methodology.
Second, the emphasis is on building a deliverable, not writing detailed specifications, or adhering to complicated design or change control procedures.
Third, I felt a bit more confidence in the people who put the manifesto together. There were no “thought leaders” who were “proactively leveraging synergistic best practices”.
Fourth, agile development relies on agile project management. I like the idea that project managers are leaders, that teams work with the customer rather than against them and that more emphasis is placed on value rather than cost.
Finally, the agile method isn’t like other more “evangelical” methodologies. Agile isn’t “my way or the highway” – project managers and teams can incorporate just a few agile principles in any methodology to improve their ability to deliver.
And my research made me realize, yet again, how few guarantees of project success we actually have using the “old ways”. Relying on a good team, focusing on customers and deliverables, and embracing change rather than spending all of our time fighting it is a much better way to go.
So maybe agile is THE methodology I’ve been searching for: progress, speed and direction. What project manager, irreverent or not, could ask for anything more?