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June 2007
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New Agile Project Leadership Training Course

Tree_of_agile_knowledge_2 In September I will be co-instructing with Sanjiv Augustine the new course “Agile Project Leadership”. Sanjiv is a fellow APLN board member and author of the excellent “Managing Agile Projects” book. I’m really excited because a) we have an excellent course that will stretch attendees while engaging them, and b) co-teaching with Sanjiv will be a blast since he is such a knowledgable and personable expert.

Our first course offering will be in Manchester, UK on September 10-11th. You can find further details including a course outline at Agile University here

Agile / Traditional Dictionary

Agile_traditional_translator I’m presenting a beginners session on Agile Project Management entitled "...But it's not on the project plan!" at the Agile 2007 conference in Atlanta next month. It is targeted towards traditional PMI based project managers and I thought it might be fun and perhaps even useful to give them an Agile to Traditional language translator.

So, like a French / English : English / French Dictionary here are some translations to help the two camps communicate. This dictionary is also available as a PDF for download, the link at the end of the article.

Agile to Traditional

Adaptive - Frequently responding to changes and learning’s on a project by changing the plan, priorities, and/or approach. Agilists believe changes are good!

Agile Methods - A set of development methodologies characterized by being iterative, adaptive to changes and learning, value driven, low ceremony, and encouraging empowered teams.

Backlog – The prioritized list of stories, features, or requirements that the project works it’s way through. The closest thing to a list of requirements a traditional PM will find.

BDUF – Big Design Up Front a condescending term given to large efforts invested early in the project to define requirements or design before building some functionality and getting feedback from the user community.

Burn Down Graph – a project reporting trend graph popular in Scrum used to show the progressive reduction in features or estimated work remaining on the project.

Burn Up Graph – a project reporting trend graph that shows the total number of stories (or features) delivered to date on the project.

Continuous Integration – the process of building and testing the system upon the check-in of any code. Examples of continuous integration tools include: TeamCity and CruiseControl

Continue reading "Agile / Traditional Dictionary " »

Carnival of Agilists

Carnival_of_agilists This site has been included in the latest “Carnival of Agilists”, a bi-weekly collection of agile related posts, that introduces people to agile sites they may not be aware of and probably produces some Google page ranking uplift due to all the cross referencing.

Anyhow, the collection is well worth checking out and I particularly enjoyed the overview of the new Certified Scrum Coach proposal posted by Pete Brehrens and the list of Top 10 Agile Development Web Sites posted by Kelly Waters.

Kelly writes such snappy, engaging posts; I need to learn how to do that! Enjoy.

Developments in Agile Project Management - Part 3

Agile_project_management_2 Here’s the last instalment from my Developments in Agile Project Management Paper. Last time I wrote about Accreditation and Generation Y. Today I cover Leadership, Lean and Six Sigma, and Tool support.


You can download the full paper with the additional intro to agile and post-agile sections at the end of this post.

Continue reading "Developments in Agile Project Management - Part 3" »

Developments in Agile Project Management – Part 2

Developments_in_agile_project_managIn my last post I outlined some thoughts for an upcoming PMI presentation. Today I’ll introduce the first two concepts: “Accreditation” and “Appeal to Generation Y”, then will cover the last three topics in a later post and attach the final paper with the “Why Agile?” introduction.

As always I welcome feedback and suggestions for improvements.

Where traditional project management has certifications like PMP and PRINCE2 Practitioner, agile methods are adopting more formal accreditation schemes also. Currently the agile methods: Scrum, DSDM, and FDD have accreditation schemes and recently there have been discussions about additional programs and multi-disciplinary (not just one agile method) accreditations.

However, this is not without great debate and consternation, as for many people in the agile community, certification represent the centralized control that agile methods liberate workers from. For these people creating accreditation schemes represents: commercialization, profit chasing, and rewarding the wrong behaviours. Yet for others, it provides an opportunity to demonstrate their level of knowledge and agile methods experience, it can also provide a study program for self directed learning, and perhaps a low benchmark for hiring decisions.

The Agile Alliance and the Agile Project Leadership Network (APLN) are two volunteer lead groups that promote agile methods, organize conferences and help steward the successful application of agile methods. The boards of both groups are populated by experienced agile practitioners and have discussed the idea of endorsing certification schemes. The Agile Alliance decided not to get involved in the agile certification business and instead issued a statement that “…employers should have confidence only in certifications that are skill based and difficult to achieve.”

Within the APLN, the board has been split on whether or not to lead the development of such a program. However, at the Salt Lake APLN board meeting in February 2007 a motion made by Alistair Cockburn “The APLN commits to lead and support the creation, implementation, and evolution of an accreditation program for Agile Project Leaders based on design criteria including the DOI, with a draft proposal published by August 15, 2007” passed 10 votes to 3.

It was felt that if more agile certification was inevitable then the APLN was well positioned to do it right.

Weaknesses in current schemes were examined which included:
• lack of a difficult test
• lack of peer review and endorsement of candidates in the assessment process
• a closed models to the body of knowledge

Continue reading "Developments in Agile Project Management – Part 2" »

Developments in Agile Project Management

Developments_and_agile_project_manaEarlier this year I submitted a presentation proposal for the PMI Global Congress conference held in Atlanta this October. I called it "Developments in Agile Project Management" and wrote up a pretty seductive outline that got accepted. That is all well and good, but now the accompanying paper is due and I have to decide what to write about!

I felt a little guilty submitting a proposal when I did not know what I was going to talk about, but in the agile spirit of delaying decisions to the `last-responsible-moment` it gave me the flexibility of including some late-breaking new discovery or trend that may have been missed by locking-in early. Plus, it is not as though I have nothing to present, rather that my choice of topics had not been finalized.

So, in this and my next couple of posts I will outline some of my thoughts on "Developments in Agile Project Management" and offer an open invitation for readers to provide feedback and suggest alternative topics.

The Audience
The typical PMI conference attendee is not very familiar with agile methods. While the title will likely attract those who do know about agile, the majority will still only have a passing awareness of what it is all about. So I will have to keep the content fairly basic and prefix it with a quick tour of agile concepts to provide context. I`d love to present on something like `EVA to Andons: Mapping traditional metrics to agile-lean indicators`, but only a few people would understand it and many others may leave with the impression agile is just mumbo-jumbo and not for them. So, I think the topics should remain fairly basic to engage a large proportion of the audience.

My thoughts on the structure currently go like this:


  • Agile methods have been gaining in popularity for software development projects
  • As they are becoming more popular, new people are expanding their boundaries and application areas

Why software development is hard to manage

  • The intangible nature of software
  • Difficulty articulating true requirements
  • High rates of change
  • High complexity, sometimes R&D based, unprecedented

How Agile methods help

  • Incremental delivery provides frequent checkpoints
  • Iterative development reduces technical risk
  • Lifecycle supports late breaking changes

How Agile methods work

  • Business Prioritization
  • Timeboxed iterations
  • Communications and constraint removal
  • Reviews, Retrospectives, acknowledgements and adaptation

Then once this overview is out of the way, introduce the topics that can be thought of as "Developments in Agile Project Management":


Accreditation – Like when children grow up and progress from playgroup to school and start experiencing exams, accreditation and certification in agile methods are increasing as we leave the kindergarten.

Redesigning the workplace to attract and retain Gen Y`ers – how the new generation who “grew up digital” and are now entering the workforce demand: inclusion, collaboration and empowerment – handily the approach promoted by agile methods.

Recognizing the link to leadership – how agile project management is more closely aligned to leadership best practice than traditional project management.

Support by tools and processes – How a new segment of agile project management tools and processes have emerged to support agile projects.

Integration with adjoining fields such as Lean Six Sigma and the Theory of Constraints – How the boundaries between agile and these highly compatible fields are disappearing as a broader audience adopt agile and bring their own contributions and links.

This is probably more topics than I should attempt to cover in a paper or presentation but I wanted to get my ideas out there and ask for alternatives. If you where giving a presentation on "Developments in Agile Project Management" what would you include and why?