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September 2008
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November 2008

PMI Opening the Doors to Agile

Door “To deal with complex projects there is an increased need for agile and flexible project management… In future, ‘people’ and leadership skills will be viewed as more important than technical skills.”

Statements like these hardly seem surprising to regular readers here. This is what I have been advocating for years. However, these recommendations do not come from me, but instead from this month’s PMI Today magazine. Couple this with the announcement last week at the PMI Global Congress in Denver that the next PMI Virtual Community to be created will be for Agile Methods and we begin to see a promising trend.

I reported previously that the PMBOK v4 Guide due out later this year has more iterative lifecycle coverage. Then today I heard that my Agile Project Management course has been added to the PMI Asia Pacific Congress 2009 conference in Kuala Lumpur, next February. So, while agile methods “crossed the chasm” into mainstream development a couple of years ago, I think we are only just witnessing this shift in project management.

Why has it taken so long for the managers to catch up? Well, as the popular stereotypes go, perhaps we are just a little slow, or have more change inertia, or more practices to change before embracing the new approach. Regardless, I am just glad things seem to be moving at last in the right direction.

I am looking forward to the PMI Agile Virtual Community as a great platform for bringing agile methods to project managers worldwide; (Virtual Community is the new PMI name for a Special Interest Group (SIG)). Congratulations to Jesse Fewell and the rest of the PMI Agile Board for pushing through the red tape and making this new group a reality.

Teaching in Costa Rica

Agile Costa RicaNext week I will be teaching two one-day agile workshops and an executive summary session in Costa Rica. The courses are organized by Invenio University Research and Education and will be taking place in the capital, San Jose.

I will be travelling with my friend and colleague Dustin Aleksiuk, who usefully speaks great Spanish and lived in Costa Rica for a while. Dustin has translated my slides into Spanish and the plan is for me to be viewing an English slide deck and Dustin keeping the Spanish projected slide deck in sync. We have a real-time interpreter and headsets for attendees and the whole thing should seem as if it is in Spanish. Questions and Answers will go through the interpreter too.

We will try it for a while and poll the audience, who by all accounts will likely speak good English anyway. If the majority of the audience is more comfortable in English rather than second-hand Spanish we will flip to English, but the process of translation has been fun. The Agile acronyms we use to remember key points like INVEST, CRACK, and IKIWISI just do not translate the same.

I have also been in touch with David Alfaro who lives in Costa Rica, writes the Scrum Costa Rica blog and co-ordinated the first ScrumMaster training in Costa Rica. We are organizing a separate presentation for the University after the regular courses have finished and I hope this attracts a good crowd also.

A trip to Costa Rica would be no fun if it were all work and so we have wrapped the 3 days of courses with 5 days of sight-seeing and activities. It should be great and I’ll post a report with a few photo’s when I return.

Three Dimensions of High Performance

Agile 1 To be truly effective you need ability and passion. Some people use the formula:

 Performance = Ability * Passion

However, you also need time to dedicate to the work at hand; and so Availability factors in also. 
In the volunteer world we often say we are looking for 3 key attributes:

  • Talent (Ability in some useful skill)
  • Passion (motivation to do it)
  • Availability (time to commit to it)

In other words you need to have skills, enthusiasm, and time to dedicate to something in order to be effective. (This also applies to paid work too, but because we get paid for things it is easy to mix-up motivation with payment and forget about considering if we are passionate/motivated about the work.)

Framing team member performance along these axis’ can help separate the reasons and possible responses from the simple assessment that someone is not working.  However, people are complex and they do not fit neatly into boxes; we often experience varying levels of Talent, Passion and Availability from the same person on different tasks in the same project. So the model I outline below is intended more as a way of thinking about the issues rather than categorizing the people.

How Good?

Agile Talent 

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