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Agile 2008 Submission Review Marathon

Agile_2008_submissions_3 Phew, I am done! We had over 120 submissions for the Agile 2008 “Leadership and Teams” stage which is a great response. However at about 5-10 minutes each to read the bio’s, proposal and submit a review it adds up to a large evaluation effort. Here’s how the stages and numbers broke down:


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PMBOK 4 – This Time It’s Iterative!

(Well, maybe a little more iterative)Pmi

The current Project Management Body Of Knowledge (PMBOK) Guide is labeled “Third Edition” and was published in 2004. Every 4 years the Project Management Institute (PMI) brings out a new version and the Fourth Edition has just been released to reviewers in Exposure Draft format.

I was a contributor and reviewer for version 3 and will likely submit some feedback for version 4 too. One thing that will be of interest to agile project managers is the increased acceptance of iterative lifecycles.

The concepts of rolling wave planning and progressive elaboration have been in the PMBOK since at least the 2000 edition that I know of. These concepts address the idea that planning near term work in detail and later work in less detail. Then as new details emerge, going back to the plans and updating them with the new data. This is common sense to those in the agile community, but it sometimes surprises people that it has been in the PMBOK for the last 8 years since, unfortunately, many people skim past these important principles in the PMBOK Guide.

Likewise, previous versions of the PMBOK have mentioned alternative lifecycles and nesting of activities. Yet with the PMBOK v 4 draft we start to see more embodiment of iterative approaches.


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Collaboration Tools

AplnlogoLast week’s Calgary APLN meeting was on Team Collaboration and afterwards an attendee volunteered a really neat and useful team assessment questionnaire. Gerard Meszaros (author of XUnit Test Patterns) who also has strong project management and team collaboration knowledge, presented on “Using Collaboration to Build Team Commitment”. It was a great presentation and referenced some of the Jean Tabaka’s work from the book “Collaboration Explained”.

I have known Jean since her facilitation work with DSDM in the mid 90’s and she really knows about teams, motivation and working effectively with people. Chapter 4 of her book talks about characteristics of high performance teams. After the presentation, Edgardo Gonzalez sent me a spreadsheet based on these criteria that allows quick and easy team assessments.


As seen from the screenshot above, the tool is a one page Excel sheet that assesses the team’s abilities in:
• Self Organizing
• Empowered to Make Decisions
• Belief in Vision and Success
• Committed Team
• Trust Each Other
• Participatory Decision Making
• Consensus-Driven
• Constructive Disagreement

In our example of a fictitious project, four people completed the questionnaire. The collective team score is shown on the left hand radar chart (indicating a weakness in the “Consensus Driven” field) and the individual scores are shown on the right hand radar diagram. Colour coding flags areas as “Red” for concern, “Yellow” for warning (“Trust…” in the example), and “Green” for good.

Not only is the spreadsheet an effective team diagnostic, but a good lesson in Excel spreadsheet formatting and validation. Thanks Edgardo for agreeing to make this available to everyone and to Gerard and Jean for their work in this important field.

You can download the spreadsheet for your own use below:

Collaborative Team Assessment.xls

Agile Project Leadership and More on Accreditation

Grasp_agileLast week I taught the “Agile Project Leadership” course with Sanjiv Augustine in Manchester, UK. The course went really well and we were looked after by Ian and Dot Tudor our hosts from TCC Training and Consultancy. They have a number of training facilities around the UK and ours was Aspen House, a converted church that retained all the arched doorways and high vaulted ceilings you would hope for.

Aspen_house_3It was a rare treat to teach in such nice surroundings and the church setting made evangelising agile all the more fun. In truth we were “preaching to the choir” as most of the delegates were already familiar with the benefits of agile and were looking for practical tools and more leadership techniques to move their organizations to the next level.

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