Scrum emerged as the winner among the agile methodologies. It’s very easy to see why: Organizational change comes with management backing. Scrum talked about management ceremonies, so it was easy to get management buy-in. But in some cases, managers kept the developers out of the loop. And that’s the problem. How can we have working software without developers? … Agile exposes issues. Here’s an important one: If your company doesn’t involve developers in your agile implementation, you will lose the business and your developers. Let’s not waste the opportunity agile has given us. Don’t waste the opportunity of agile, Software Development Times, July 2012.
If we did nothing more than not waste our opportunities, our projects and organizations would perform significantly better than they have been doing. That means, for example, delivering projects on time — really on time — within budget and with good to great quality.
There are many great ways to improve our project or organization. The challenge is to do it in such a way that we get the full benefit of the improvement effort. This means doing the change the right way, for the right reasons and avoiding all the typical silly things we do that get in the way of any such change.
Understand what we are trying to do
1. Understand what we are trying to do. We will not be an expert when we start but we should be one by the time we are done. Being too superficial in our understanding of the new way of doing business is, in my experience, one of the key reasons why these efforts fail. For more, see Why We Don’t Really Need All Those Experts.
Get going and try something
2. Get going and try something. I know, we are project managers. We are suppose to plan it all out, get it all approved and execute it in a fixed time, cost and benefits box. That’s great for something we’ve done before. It is not so great for something that is more experimental or completely new to the company or completely new to us as project managers. One great way is to go find that small group of people within our organization who are already doing what we now want the organization as a whole to do. Lean on them. Rely on them. For more, see The Project Management Secret Of Innovation.
Recognize how people will react to any change
3. Recognize how people will react to any change. Changing an organization is always a challenge regardless of the technology or methodology we are implementing. Change is hard, but it goes through a predictable cycle that we can manage. If we understand this cycle we have a better chance of avoiding many of the pitfalls that undermine a project’s success. For more, see Why Changing An Organization Is Hard And How To Succeed Anyway.
Adapt the new approach or methodology to our organization
4. Adapt the new approach or methodology to our organization. One size fits all — is not usually a winning approach. What worked well in one organization might not work well in ours if we try to do it exactly the same way. I remind people that it is the unique things we do within each organization that usually makes all the difference. Otherwise, everyone could just follow the latest and greatest study results (e.g., implement X and you get productivity increase Y) and all projects would be successful. Instead, it is how we adapt, based upon the uniqueness of our organization, what often is the difference between success or less than success. For more, see The One Perfect Project Management Methodology.
As project managers, we live in an opportunity rich environment. There are so many useful things we can do that can make a huge difference in our projects and in our organizations. Let’s not waste them.
What opportunities are available to you right now and how are you using them?