Agile Project Management: The Natural Way
In a recent coment I wrote, „AGILE PROJECT MANAGEMENT has been a topic at the [PMI] conference. Indeed, I believe there were 2-3 presentations on this very topic. For example, Michele Sliger, co-author of the newly published and excellent book „The Software Project Manager’s Bridge to Agility (Agile Software Development Series)“, talked about Agile Project Management.
In addition, agile project management was referenced in many other presentations. „
I want to go a step further and state that agile project management is the natural way of effective project management. There are very good reasons for this hypthesis to be true. Textbooks suggest that project life cycles are linear. This means that a project evolves along a pre-defined path: initation – planning – executing – monitor & control – closeout. This, for example, is what the PMBOK suggests. Unfortunately, reality is more complex. Indeed I have not seen a single project which has strictly followed this sequence. Instead, a project goes from one phase to another and may jump back or forth. Tom Johns of Business Management Consultants illustrated this in his presentation „The Art of Project Management (c) Complexity“ at the PMI Global Congress 2008 in Denver.
I believe that every effective project manager has to be familiar with agile project management to survive, to cope with unexpected changes without losing control.
Regarding the various approaches of agile, let it be Scrum, XP, RUP, etc., it doesn’t matter. As a matter of fact my experience shows that a hyprid approach may work best. It has to be customized to the respective project environment and organization. Strictly following a doctrine without looking left or right is narrow minded and one-dimensional. It neglects the reality of complexity we are living in. If doing so, you may be better off or at as well of following a traditional, linear waterfall approach thinking this may be good, structured project management. Nothing could be further from the truth. Any model, may it be a waterfall or agile approach, serves as a guideline. The art of project management is to identify and use simple rules which help constitute guidelines for effective and efficient project work which yield tangible results which are in sync with the vision and objectives of the project and the project organization.