THE RIGHT FIT
Jesse Fewell, CST, PMI-ACP, PMP, is a founder of
the PMI Agile Community of Practice and participated on the core team of the Software Extension
to the PMBOK® Guide. He can be reached at
expand that 5G product across all of the U.K. and
Iterative learning helps mitigate business risk.
Incremental delivery mitigates delivery risk.
While these are two very different kinds of agile
project models, both are necessary for a strong,
ONE SIZE FITS ALL
I hear experts telling us that more agile is better.
While it seems logical that going to market with
shorter and fewer cycles is the key to every business model, it’s not always the case.
The idea that your strategy fits my business is a
fallacy. In reality, choosing among various business
models is only one variable; the actual execution
can be even more complex:
n If you’re building a water pipeline, you don’t need
incremental delivery to discover what the cus-
tomers need as much as you need frequent test-
ing that lowers execution risk.
n If you’re a mobile gaming company, your mar-
ket is too fickle to tolerate any kind of agile
n If you’re a retail company, you face the firm
fixed deadlines of a holiday shopping season
and will prioritize which highest-value prod-
ucts to deliver.
n If you’re a government agency, you want to
improve execution, but not as much as you want
the increased transparency of frequent reviews
and visual management systems.
One size does not fit all. Do not judge your agile
maturity merely by your frequency, but by the
alignment of your execution to your strategy.
Agile approaches vary in their people policy,
AGILE OFFICE EQUALS AGILE TEAM
business strategy and project execution. Today’s
business world demands the modern project man-
ager build his or her projects to be agile in the eye
of the right beholder. PM
Over the last few decades, the use of agile
approaches has extended beyond IT, becoming more
and more mainstream in general business. But as the
number of agile adopters increases, the community
has become plagued by three specific fallacies.
Experts often declare that to be agile, team members
need an agile environment. That means shuffling org
charts and overhauling human resources policies.
It’s a fallacy that businesses only need the right
personnel policies to spark agile thinking. Consider
the fact that the heralded Steve Jobs was a notorious
micromanager and ruled with an iron fist, even as
his company churned out some of the most innovative consumer products. There is much more to agile
approaches than a feel-good work environment.
FULL-SCALE OR BUST
At this year’s global agile conference, I heard one
speaker ask, “If you benefit from uncertainty,
wouldn’t you want more?” More than
just responding to change, these agile
experts believe creating change is the
universal competitive advantage.
But there is a time and a place
Consider these misconceptions when
for smaller pilot projects. Any
agile practitioner should know that
learning and delivery are not the
same. Stanford business professor
Jim Collins calls this the difference
between bullets and cannonballs. If
you’re a wireless provider, using techniques like
Lean Startup will help empirically validate new
ideas and ventures. But once you’ve proven that
5G works in Manchester, Marseille and Munich
(bullets), you can launch larger projects to
choosing an agile approach.
BY JESSE FEWELL, CS T, PMI-ACP, PMP, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR
“While it seems
logical that going to
market with shorter
and fewer cycles is
key to every business
model, it’s not
always the case.”