Jesse Fewell, CST, PMI-ACP, PMP, has served on the
core team of the Software Extension to the PMBOK®
Guide and the steering committee for the PMI Agile
Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)® certification. He
can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
older scope items should be replaced by the new
request, and how the contract might support it.
Drive attention to deliverables over documents.
Don’t wait for the project management office (PMO)
to stop asking for those heavyweight reports. Instead,
spark a conversation about improving the plan with
periodic estimates, or just submit thinner, lightweight documents and see what happens. You might
be surprised by the reaction you get.
Also, stop waiting for the perfect specification;
it will never come. It’s better to encourage the use
of mockups, prototypes, proofs of concept and any
other technique that will generate momentum on a
meaningful initial product.
Adapt to change more, perform to plan less. A
good project manager doesn’t need an official agile
approach to attack problems aggressively. Book
a retrospective meeting to happen every month.
It’s ideal to get lessons learned right now, so you
can implement corrective action immediately and
avoid past problems.
You might worry that all this is a recipe for getting
fired. But really, would you get sacked over an extra
conversation? Would you lose that promotion for
asking basic questions? As the saying goes, “It’s better
to beg forgiveness than to ask permission.”
Your mentality matters more than your approach.
Stop waiting. Start working differently. PM
I recently spoke to a project manager eager to
learn how to improve her next project with agile
approaches. Encouraged by her energy, I asked what
she had read so far, to which she replied, “Oh, I know
this stuff, and even got certified a couple years ago,
but I’m still waiting for my first agile assignment.”
I was dumbfounded. She viewed her job as
doing what she was told and only using the tools
she was given. That, my friends, is a guaranteed
track to mediocrity. If you want to stand out with
agile, then you can’t wait for an opportunity to use
it. Here are a few suggestions to get you going.
Do something differently. Don’t wait for your manager to approve the use of an agile approach. Instead,
initiate a daily standup. Show them how 10 minutes
of daily focused coordination can smoke out issues
far in advance of a weekly status meeting.
If your leadership won’t give you the necessary
resources for a successful agile team, don’t just
sit around. Launch an aggressive cross-training
effort with lunch-and-learn sessions and pair up
team members to work on tasks. As the team gets
smarter, it can share the load and avoid delays
when distractions arise.
Encourage collaboration within contracts. Don’t
wait for a customer to issue contracts that men-
tion agile approaches; they don’t care. Instead, offer
something like this, “If it’s okay with you, we’d like
to have a critical project review every month. In
exchange for the increased visibility, we’d like to get
your feedback on the intermediate work items.”
Also avoid the pressure to force-fit all those
new requests in the current budget and schedule.
Instead, offer to collaborate to find which of the
Don’t wait for permission to use agile approaches—
start making changes to how you deliver today.
BY JESSE FEWELL, CS T, PMI-ACP, PMP, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR
work on tasks.