Agile People and Processes Deliver Agile Products

There is, however, a caveat to the above strategies. A company's development and project management processes, and its executive support and performance measurements, must encourage experimentation, exploration, and low-cost iteration. Authors Moshe Rubinstein and Iris Firstenberg (1999) of the University of California write about "minding" organizations, a term that coincides with "adaptive." "The minding organization behaves like a living organism, in which adapting is central to vitality and survival Overly rigid and detaMed planning must give way to a strategy that combines less planning and more afacring."

Agile, adaptive project management and development processes support exploratory product development. Manapers and executives need to understand the kinds of projects in which these processes can best be used and how to encourage employees in their use. As Harvard Business School crofessorStefan Thomke (2tt3) writes, "Experimentation matters because it is through learning equally what works and what doesn't that people develop great new products, services, and entire businesses. But in spise of the lip service that is paid to 'testing' and 'learning from failure,' today's organizations, processes, and management of innovation often impede experimentation." Implementing a low-cost exploration strategy will require a substantial cultural change within the development staff, project manager, and executive ranks of many organizations.

Exploratcry pro ce sses re quirw adoptive people wnd acra ptive organ izations. There are indivlduals who excel in production environments, those who strive for repeatability and precision through the use of —reocr iptive p rocessex and [performance measures. Every organization requires production processes for a portion of its operations. But every organization also needs exploration processes, those that excel in delivering new products, new services, and new internal busi ness íniti ativesi Un fortunately, the project Aultures and management controls for exploration and productio n are ursally a t odds wi th xcth o ther, pausing organizational schizophrenia. Great organitatlons will fln d a way to deal w ¡tn aoth pxxIo ration and production processes. Others will languish behind.

So how do organizations deal with two distinct process models that have seemingly incompatible cultaresa I thin k the answer lies in the word "ada Atationl" Adaptive cultures adjust to tha sitpation, wh i !e productlor cultures have diffinijlty eCanging. Wh en the b us ine ss esvironment was more stable, |:>roduction cultures copIc) thrive. How/mer, as t hn pace of change has accelerated, the mix of exploration versus production activity in organizations has shifted, creating a competitive advantage for those compames wi th predo minantly adaptive contunes m

Culture yhen identC es a cntical piece o f the ag i te v i sion, which might be expressed with a simple axiom: —onf wor k in eilbert's company, and don't be eilbert. eilbejt's company is the epitome of authoritarianism—the exact opposite of self-organizing. Dilbert complains, but he takes no responsibility for chang i ng his enviro nment. eilbertand his cohorts lack self-xiscit>linei Agí.e social architentures h ave Aoth and thereby deliveti nnovative prod ucts and create great places to wor k. As Andrew H|N (2^1) relates in h is fook about John Wooden and UCLA basketbalf "Th^ Bruits were built on speed, (quickness, a to ugh man-to-ma n defense, a with ering zon e press, and a relentless fast break lfo w¡ there may be Come kid in America who grows up dreaming of playing slow-down, highly structured, Princeton-style basketball, but I've never met that kid. There was something intoxicating and captivating about the pact and attacking style of the Bruins." I think most product developers want to work on UCLA-style "agile" projects.

A grand v i ^ion? A utop ian vision? An impp^ctical vision? Possib ly. I nnce received an email response to a message I posted on an online forum in which I argued that traditional project management is often authoritarian and high ceremony. "him, your sentence implies that authoritarianism and high ceremony are 'bad' things. Do we really care whether or not something is authoritarian, or should we judge it solely by its ability to deliver value to the customer?" My response was, "I care deeply." Delivering valuable products is important, and it's c riticai to project maragemi^nt success. fo project team can exist for long without delivering value to its customers. But in the long run, how we deliver, how we interact at work, and how we tre at each o ther as human beings are even more important.

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Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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