PMI-ACP and My New Book “Beyond Agile: Achieving Success with Situational Knowledge and Skills”

10 YearsIt has been 10 years since the PMI-ACP exam was created, and I published my PMI-ACP Exam Prep book. I recall the Steering Committee meetings where we discussed what we believed was necessary for agile practitioners and team leaders to have experience in and an understanding of.

Since then, the exam has been updated a couple of times based on Role Delineation Studies (RDS) and Job Task Analysis (JTA), which is how PMI surveys practitioners and asks what techniques are commonly used. However, the core content has mainly endured unchanged, which is testimony to its usefulness.

CommitteeI remember discussing the scope and goals for the credential among the committee that comprised: Alistair Cockburn, Mike Cottmeyer, Jim Cundiff, Jesse Fewell, Mike Griffiths, Ahmed Sidkey, Michele Sliger, Dennis Stevens and PMI researchers.

In addition to an agnostic understanding of Lean, Kanban, Scrum and other agile approaches, we also agreed people should know about the basics of servant leadership, conflict management, team decision making, and coaching. So our scope included more than just Lean and agile; it had a little leadership and emotional intelligence.

Agile and Leadership 1

At the time, someone suggested a three-tier credential consisting of something like Agile Basics, Agile Journeyman (journeyperson), Agile Consultant that mirrored Shu-Ha-Ri. PMI leadership rightly reined this in, explaining it was a good idea, but how about we just focus on getting the basic level credential created for now.

PMI was correct to focus on the universal fundamentals. As we get into more advanced topics, there is no single correct answer. So, topics like agile scaling frameworks, strategies for motivating teams, the pros and cons of different leadership approaches that get deeper into agile, leadership and emotional intelligence were never tackled but are topics that my blog readers know I care deeply about.

Agile and Leadership 2
My new Beyond Agile book is my exploration of these topics (plus others.) I dig deeper into unlocking the power of individuals and teams. How can we encourage better engagement, focus on the project goals, and ditch non-value-add mindsets and processes? These are based on my experiences and research.

You likely won’t agree with everything I suggest, and that’s fine; not everything will work for your situation. However, I am confident you will find many valuable concepts and connections between ideas you thought about separately before.

As the book title suggests, it goes beyond agile. Sometimes the best way to tackle a problem might be with a plan-driven approach. Agile Myopia is the mistaken belief that every project situation has an agile solution.

Agile Leadership and Plan Driven

I am more of a pragmatist. Sometimes, the best way to assess and analyze risk is with the risk management process from plan-driven project management approaches. We may then choose to implement the risk responses in an iterative, incremental way via our backlog and spikes, but that again is being pragmatic.

My previous post mentioned a disconnect between teams being agile and the highest-performance teams I was able to work with. These high-performing teams hardly discussed agile concepts or paid much attention to the agile ceremonies, although they lived the mindset emphatically. Often what set them apart was the deep industry experience and knowledge they had gained, making them trusted partners within the business groups they served.


Beyond Agile Model
I set out to define what sets high-performing teams apart and outline the steps to replicating them. There may be no formula but I did uncover a set of knowledge, skills and thinking tools people can use to chart their own course. It represents the What’s Next beyond the ideas in my PMI-ACP books and provides a broader landscape to explore. I hope you enjoy it.

Beyond Agile Book Image


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.

Accreditation
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.

Outline
My thoughts on the structure currently go like this:

Introduction

  • 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":

Devs_in_apm

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?


Job Posting

Job_announcement_3I am looking for an experienced .NET 2.0 developer to join our team at Husky Energy. This is a challenging role on an established agile team building a complex oil pipeline management system. The skills we are looking for include:

Must Have

  • NET 2.0 (advanced)
  • OO/design patterns skills (advanced)
  • Experience in enterprise application development (advanced)
  • SQL (intermediate)
  • Unit testing (intermediate)

Nice to Have      

  • Crude Pipeline knowledge
  • ReSharper
  • MSBuild
  • Subversion
  • iBatis
  • Developer Express suites
  • WCF

The role is a contract position for one year. The project has 18 months left to go so an extension is likely. We are using a practical set of agile techniques and have the benefit of three full time users dedicated to the project – which in my experience is rare.

   

Candidates with strong .NET development abilities, a passion to join a high performing agile team, and availability to work in Calgary should send their resume to me at [email protected]

 

The team will be doing the technical interviewing so expect some code reviews and coding assignments in the interview. We have a great team in place that work well together so we are particular about finding the right person. Fit is more important than availability, we will wait up to a couple of months to accommodate the availability of the right candidate.


Blog Award

Pmisac_2To my surprise, this blog won the PMISAC award for Project Management Literature last night at the 2007 Awards Gala Dinner. This is a great endorsement, I work on the blog in my spare time and it provides a large encouragement to continue and do more.

I also think having a blog considered for a literary award demonstrates how progressive the PMISAC is. It was not long ago that blogs were more the domain of developers than project managers. It is very encouraging to see alternative media branches recognized.


Blog Award Nomination

Pmisac I am very pleased to announce that this blog has been selected as a finalist in the PMI-SAC award for Project Management Literature.

The other entries include Dr. Janaka Ruwanpura , Dr. George Jergeas, and Mohamed Moussa  who have written (amongst other things) some great material on decision tree simulation and civil engineering PM best practices. So, while I do not expect to win, being selected as a finalist is a great endorsement and encouraging that a PMI body recognizes agile and leadership based material.

This is an emerging trend, three or four years ago agile awareness and acceptance within traditional project management was the anomaly, now it appears the norm. When I spoke at the PMI Global Congress in Anaheim in 2004 I had the only agile session there, at this year’s conference in Atlanta there will be six others with me. The reasons are clear, many companies are achieving success with agile methods and many others want to mirror them. The high change world of today’s software endeavours are “not your father’s projects” and so we need “not your father’s project management” to lead them.

The winner of the literary award will be announced next Tuesday; I’ll post the result here.


Update on Introducing Agile Article

Printing_pressMy recent posts on “Introducing Agile methods to Organizations: Mistakes to Avoid” (part 1, part 2, part 3) have been picked up by InfoQ for a mini-book. While this is great positive feedback for me, it is good news for you as readers too, as I will also post links to the new expanded version here so you can get access to the extra material.

Mini-books are available free electronically and sold in paper form through Amazon. They are short (60-80 pages maximum) and intended to serve a tech savvy audience with a concise, yet in-depth coverage of a subject.

I plan to work on this in May and June and will keep you posted as to how it goes and when the final version is available.


Changing Jobs

Is_the_grass_greener_2 In April I will be leaving Quadrus Development to go independent again. I have found an interesting contract at local company, Husky Energy, where they have an agile project to manage and some other interesting initiatives underway and I am looking forward to my new role.

End With the Beginning in Mind
I have been at Quadrus for over six years and I enjoyed my role there tremendously. Someone very wise (Christopher Avery) once told me that when a relationship comes to an end that you should always End With the Beginning in Mind i.e. remember the reasons why the relationship started in the first place and focus on these points when wrapping up. Not only is end-with-the-beginning-in-mind, a great twist on Stephen Covey’s "begin-with-the-end-in-mind", it is also very wise advice I wish I had appreciated when I was much younger.

In his book “Teamwork is an Individual Skill”, Chris says the following about ending partnerships:

“…people so seldom end relationships well. Maybe because we all want so much to win - and endings are associated with losing. Maybe it’s because we are embarrassed that we don’t know how to derive any more benefits from a partnership. Maybe we are embarrassed because of un-kept promises, real or imagined…endings are as inevitable as beginnings and we can improve the quality of endings by avoiding three things:

1) Burning bridges
2) Harming reputations
3) Being inhumane to oneself or others”

Chris then goes on to recommend some positive steps that include:

"1) End the collaboration by bringing to mind the positive intentions and positive results that the partnership produced.
2) Thank your partners for the opportunities, results, and trust they provided you.
3) …"

I think this is great advice, and personally think back with fond memories of when I started at Quadrus. Having enjoyed several years holidays snowboarding and hiking in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, my wife and I decided to emigrate to Canada. It seems foolhardy now, but we both quit our jobs, sold our house in England and moved to Calgary without new jobs to go to. I was fortunate to interview with Quadrus my second week in Canada and was offered a position the same day.

Quadrus took a chance hiring me and I am very grateful for that, I arrived here with my PRINCE2 project management certification that no one had heard of and quickly sat my PMP exam to at least gain some traditional project management accreditation. Fortunately my methodology experience was more transferable, with RUP, Scrum, and XP being well understood in Canada.

I had some cultural challenges as Canada and England are two nations separated by a common language. I learned how to “get my ducks in a row”, “ramp” on new technologies and avoid “kack” while explaining how long a “fortnight” is and what “knackered” means.

Quadrus encouraged me to develop training courses, speak at conferences and publish articles. Without these opportunities I would have missed meeting so many smart people and becoming enthralled by research and lifelong learning. Quadrus has a great set of dedicated IT professionals and I will miss their skills and community.

Other Items, Business as Usual
While I am changing my 9-5 job, my other activities will continue. Quadrus has agreed to continue hosting the Calgary APLN Drupal web site and I look forward to seeing Quadrus folks at future APLN meetings. I will still be writing articles for the Agile Journal and Gantthead and continue to be actively involved with the Agile Alliance, the APLN, CAMUG, and Cambrian House. I will still be presenting on Agile Project Management at Agile 2007 in August and the PMI Global Congress in Atlanta this October. Not least of course, I will continue blogging here, so there will be no end to totally biased leadership and project management ideas.

I will be having some leaving drinks in Ceili’s (803 8th Avenue) on Friday 30th at 4:30pm, anyone who knows me is welcome to drop by for a beer if you are in the neighbourhood.


Next Calgary APLN Meeting - April 10 - Team Motivation

Aplnlogo The next Calgary APLN Chapter meeting is on April 10th and will feature Ross Martin and Lynn Harrison from Black Tusk Leadership speaking on: "Team Motivation: Working Inside the Egg". See www.CalgaryAPLN.org for a full description and registration details. This promises to be an interactive and entertaining talk that emphasises the importance of listening and motivation within teams.

I first met Ross when I attended a "Leadership Challenge" workshop last year. Ross was an invited panel presenter and he impressed me with his knowledge and humble demeanour. I met up with Ross for lunch shortly afterwards to ask him some leadership questions and we got talking about his job as an executive coach and leadership consultant.

Ross explained that he spends a good portion of his time coaching company executives in leadership techniques and providing feedback. As we talked I could not help thinking that this sounded like nice work if you could get it, but a little soft, "foo-foo" and fuzzy, so I asked some more questions. Ross said that the best way to understand what coaching involved was to experience it and offered to give me a 10 minute session there in the restaurant. So that's what we did, and boy, it explained it well.

Ross asked me what my biggest work concerns were and I explained rather than any particular project, I was thinking hardest about what I would like to do with my career. Ross then asked, for this biggest concern, what had I done to try and solve it, and how much of my working week was I dedicating to it. I was embarrassed to admit that while I claimed it was the most important thing, I was doing a pretty lousy job of addressing it. We reviewed each of my options and work done investigating them so far and, in a very nice way, Ross was able to get me to realize that there was a lot more I could do and helped outline a roadmap.

From this and other discussions, I went from being an entertained sceptic to an enthralled convert faster than I can remember. The cynic in me may have thought that this must have been a one-off trick or "Vulcan-mind-meld", but I really think that a leadership coach who knows their stuff can be of tremendous help.

So, get along to APLN the talk if you can, Ross and Lynn have great insights to share and their topic: "team motivation" is an important subject area for all of us.


Agile Project Management Course

Lifecycle_2Here is a shameless plug for a public two day Agile Project Management course I will be teaching on February 22-23 in Calgary, Alberta. It is an intensive, practical based, small group class that covers the full lifecycle of managing agile projects in the real world.

There are lots of hands-on exercises and project case studies. It employs proven adult learning techniques and a visual learning style to bring the topics to life and help them stick in your mind. The course is accompanied by a comprehensive workbook and a CD of tools, templates and resources.


Don’t (Just) Drink The Kool-Aid

Kool_aidThe next CAMUG meeting looks very interesting. Jonathan Kohl will be presenting "Don't Drink the Kool-Aid! Avoiding Process Pitfalls". Here is an excerpt from his presentation outline:

“… merely applying an Agile (or any other) process is not a guarantee of success. As with anything else in life, there are trade-offs, and unintended consequences when applying a tool or process. This talk will explore some common Agile process practices that may work well in some contexts, and have unintended consequences in others.

The intention of this talk is to encourage us all to keep striving to build the best software we can. It's tempting to think we have the formula for success, but in a rapidly changing industry, we must adapt and change accordingly.

Amen to that, there is no standard recipe for successful projects, instead, as the DOI advises, solutions need to be “context specific”, or as Alistair Cockburn reminds us, a new methodology per project.

This is not to say we should discourage passionate implementation of agile methods. Following my Agile Project Management Assessment Quiz post I was contacted by Simon Baker of Think Box who scored an impressive “Uber Agile” score. You can read an account of his project team practices and successes following the quiz and I commend him and his team on their work.

Rather, the point I want to make, is that our intent should focus on successful stakeholder engagement and better software. If this is achieved via agile methods then great, or if, say, via better communications, then so be it. We run the risk of ignoring the “Individuals and Interactions over processes and tools” value if we focus only on process.

For the last couple of months I have been reviewing draft chapters from Preston Smith’s new book “Flexible Product Development” due to be published later this year. I met Preston through the APLN board and I have learned a lot from reading the draft chapters. A portion that really hit home for me was his description of people over process...

Continue reading "Don’t (Just) Drink The Kool-Aid" »


Update from The Agile Alliance Planning Meeting

Kennedy_school_1 I have just returned from the Agile Alliance board meeting in Portland, OR. The objectives were to develop the goals and objectives for the Agile Alliance for 2007, work through some conference planning details, and discuss research funding and other initiatives.

The meetings were held at the Kennedy School which is a very cool hotel, come arts and entertainment facility that houses a theatre, restaurant, several bars, and a movie theatre. The whole place has been preserved/restored to a historic school setting and decorated with a wide variety of art installations and period fixtures. The hotel rooms are old class rooms, complete with chalk boards, heavy baseboards and devoid of modern trimmings like TVs. The meeting rooms are old libraries, home economic labs etc. It really was a creative and inspiring setting and I believe helped contribute to a very productive set of meetings. If you are ever near Portland I would recommend you drop in for a look around.

Kennedy_school_2_1 Many of the items under review still require refining so I can not describe them until they are approved, but I think it is safe to outline some of the topics and themes discussed.

The Agile 2007 conference in Washington D.C. sounds like it will be a great event. It is good to learn that the Open Space sessions will be given a higher profile this year. They ended up a little buried away last year which is a shame because they can generate great energy and innovation. 

The conference submissions have now closed and many tracks received over 150 proposals. Unfortunately, some of the tracks only have room for about 50 presenters which means many good submissions will have to be turned down. We discussed other ways of harvesting this wealth of experience and information and I hope we can get some kind of knowledge-base CD of extra tracks or contributions into the Agile Narratives programs to recognize and make use of all these excellent submissions. From a lean perspective it seems like a lot of muda (waste) to let this information pass by the agile community as also-rans. Who knows, maybe there is an experience report or research paper out there that is just the solution you are looking for.

The venue for the Agile 2008 conference has not been selected yet, but planning is in progress. Major hotels and conference centres book up early and so preparations are already underway. Possible venues discussed included: Seattle, Toronto, Vancouver, Atlanta, and Santa Clara amongst others. Not only is the city important but so too is the conference site, we want somewhere that can not only house the large group, but also provide many gathering areas to promote discussion and collaboration.

It was also good to discuss the certification debate so more. I had a productive chat with Ron Jefferies, Brian Marick, Jutta Eckstein, and Ryan Martens and we all seemed to agree that if certifications are to exist they should be skill based and hard to obtain.

The sessions were well facilitated and productive. It is great to have a these face-to-face sessions it is just a shame that we are not located closer to one another so that we could easily (and responsibly) have more of them. My next planning trip is to Salt Lake City on Wednesday when the APLN board will be conducting a similar exercise for its planning year. Surprisingly the only overlap between these two groups is Todd Little and myself, otherwise we could have all gone to the Kennedy school which would have been a lot of fun.


Update on PMI Dinner Talk ‘Agile Project Leadership”

My last two posts outlined a talk I was preparing for the Calgary PMI chapter. The presentation went well, the event was full at 125 people and the audience was very receptive to the message. This was pretty much expected, as nothing was meant to be confrontational. I positioned leadership as the human-centric extension to management that I believe it is. We had some good questions after the talk and I was invited back by the organizers to present at their PMI Conference in November which was a nice endorsement.

(I enjoyed the event, but need to get faster at creating these presentations. I use a lot of graphics and team-room photographs and these currently take me much too long to create, organize and turn into presentations. I keep thinking that I will get quicker as I build up a library of collateral, but every time it takes me days to prepare. I think it’s time to seek some help and I will chat to Ole Jepsen about this when we meet for the APLN planning meeting in Salt Lake. He used to create courseware for a living and apparently has a method or system for created them that saves lots of time – I will see if he can help me.)


An introduction to Agile Project Leadership – Part 2

Pmi_apln_logos_1 In Part 1 I explored the humanistic side of leadership and two leadership practices:
1. Modeling desired behaviour
2. Creating and communicating a vision

In this post I will explain three more practices:
3. Enable others to act
4. Willingness to challenge the status quo
5. Encouraging each other

And wrap up discussion of the presentation “Agile Project Leadership” I will be delivering tomorrow evening.

3) Enable others to act – We need to foster collaboration by building trust and strengthen others by sharing power. When we have a trusting work place people can be more productive since people need not fear reprisal or ridicule if they make a mistake. I visualize it like this, if you need one hand to cover your rear it only leaves one hand free to work. When we can create an open, forgiving work environment, without the need to CYA, people are much more productive.

We can do this by setting an example. Admit mistakes publicly to the team, show people it is good to learn and move on. Hold information sessions to share knowledge, we want an abundant mentality to information not a scarcity based model where people protect knowledge. Ask the team searching questions such as:

  • Do you have what you need?
  • Where do you think we are vulnerable?
  • Where are we not meeting goals?

Get the team in on risk management and the things that the traditional project manager has to worry about individually. Not only will people feel valued for being consulted, but a slew of valuable input will be created.

Continue reading "An introduction to Agile Project Leadership – Part 2" »


An introduction to Agile Project Leadership – Part 1

Pmi_apln_logosOn Thursday 25th I will be presenting on “Agile Project Leadership” at the PMI Southern Alberta Chapter. These sessions normally attract a diverse group of project managers from a variety of industries. I am looking forward to the opportunity to spread the word about agile leadership and plug our local Calgary APLN chapter.

Not everyone will be familiar with agile methods so I will quickly run through the W5 (what, why, when, who, where) of agile and then hopefully spend the bulk of my time on the leadership portion of the talk. On trying to create a 5 slide overview of Agile, I stumbled across a nice value proposition summary on the VersionOne web site.

Agile_benefits

I have seen all the graphs individually previously (Rational have been using the Risk graph for > 8 years), but I was drawn in by the symmetry and clarity of information transmitted by just a few curved lines. I think it is a great summary, looking like bowls and nuts.

After the introduction to Agile, the basic storyline for my presentation goes like this...

Continue reading "An introduction to Agile Project Leadership – Part 1" »


The Future of Agile

Future_signl_1 What should the Agile Alliance be focussing on? What can the APLN do to change how projects are managed? I will be attending the Agile Alliance directors planning meeting in Portland, Oregon at the end of January and the Agile Project Leadership Network directors meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah in February to discuss these topics and welcome ideas and suggestions from readers,

The Agile Alliance has a large (and growing) membership of supporters and with proceeds raised from events like the Agile 2006 conference in Minneapolis, memberships, and corporate sponsorship is able to fund research into Agile methods and other ventures. What areas of agile research are most deserving: distributed team techniques, new testing techniques, or the wider use of agile outside of IT projects?

This year’s Agile 2007 conference will be held in Washington D.C., but where should the 2008 conference be held? Given the rise in attendance figures, the 2008 conference could have between 1,500 – 1,800 people. Which cities would make good candidates for a conference of this size? The conference is intended to be the premier event in the Agile community for North America so perhaps it is time for a trip to Toronto, Canada or Cancun, Mexico?

What about the APLN, should we be working closer with the PMI to form Agile Special Interest Groups (SIG), or rent booths at the PMI Global Congress to promote the APLN, how about extensions to the PMBOK for Agile projects?

I’d be pleased to receive your suggestions for how these groups could best serve the needs of their members as agile methods continue to evolve and their adoption expands.


Next Calgary APLN Meeting

Aplnlogo The next Calgary Agile Project Leadership Network (APLN) meeting will be on Monday January 15th when I will be talking about “Agile Suitability Filters”. Here are the details:

Event:                          Calgary APLN: “Agile Suitability Filters”
Presenter:                   Mike Griffiths, Quadrus Development Inc.
Date:                            Monday January 15, 2007
Time:                           12:00 PM – 1:00 PM (registration will commence at 11:30 AM)
                                    Light beverages to be provided
Location:                     5th Avenue Place – Conference Room
                                    Suite 202, 420 – 2nd Street SW

Topic: “Agile Suitability Filters

Agile methods can bring many benefits, but are they appropriate for all projects?  In this session Mike will outline several agile suitability filters and discuss their application and roles.  Project characteristics and organizational characteristics to assess will be analyzed along with strategies for interpreting and acting upon the results.

About the Speaker:

Mike Griffiths is a project manager for Quadrus Development Inc.  He helped create DSDM in 1994 and has been using agile methods ever since; he is active in the agile community and has authored numerous journal articles.  Mike serves on the board of the Agile Alliance and the Agile Project Leadership Network (APLN) and is a frequent contributor to agile conferences.

To register, please send an email with your contact information including name, company name, and telephone number to [email protected].

Following this session we have some great speakers lined up.

  • On February 21st Robin Robertson of RCR Consulting will be presenting on “Working with Different Personality Types
  • On April 10th Ross Martin and Lynn Harrison of Black Tusk Leadership will present on “Team Motivation”.

Update from the Agile Business Conference

Agile_business_conference_london This week I’m at the Agile Business Conference in London. Today was the Agile Project Leadership Network (APLN)’s “Leadership Summit” day and the two day Agile Business Conference starts tomorrow. The Leadership summit featured some great talks on Agile Leadership by Todd Little, Pollyanna Pixton and Neil Nickolaisen.

The day started with a Leadership Think Tank session. In pairs we discussed the “issues that keep us up at night as Leaders”. I was fortunate to be sat next to Diana Larsen who is a bit of an expert on team leadership and we spent some time chatting about the problems associated with the term “Leadership”. Leadership has this connection with lofty, remote, strategic thinkers (see my 5 Myths of Leadership post) yet it is really the role of each team member. On an empowered team anyone can (indeed everyone should) step forward and lead in someway as the circumstances dictate. If a developer sees a problem with the build process and steps forward to fix it, rallying support and consensus, (s)he is employing situational leadership; and it should be encouraged.

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Agile and "Traditional PMI" Methods

Dna_strands On November 7-9 the Agile Business Conference and Leadership Summit will be taking place in London featuring agile and leadership presentations and workshops. I will be presenting on “Utilising Agile Methods alongside the PMBOK Guide”.

This is the same title as a presentation I gave at the PMI Global Congress conference in Anaheim in 2004. I will of course be updating the material and tailoring it for the audience, but how the title came about is an interesting story. For a number of years I had been submitting outlines for the PMI’s annual Global Congress conference and despite, what I considered, good content they were all rejected. The titles were a bit controversial, like “Agile Methods as a Replacement to the PMBOK for Software Projects”, “Agile Methods as the Next Evolution in PM Theory”, etc. It should really have been no surprise that my applications were turned down. So I smartened up, and submitted the non-confrontational “Utilizing Agile Methods Alongside the PMBOK Guide” and all of a sudden it was accepted. Now, with the door open to present at the PMI, I could suggest all the Agile focused material I wanted.

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Next Calgary APLN Meeting Sold Out

Aplnlogo_2 The next Calgary Agile Project Leadership Network (APLN) meeting on Thursday October 12th is full. However we are currently putting names on a wait list in case of cancellations, so if you would still like to attend this event send an email with your contact details to [email protected] and we will see if we can get you in.

For those of you already signed up, I’m sure the presentation will be very interesting. Rob Morris from CDL Systems will be talking about “Estimating and Planning Agile projects” and I had a chance to review Rob’s material earlier this week. It looks really good and draws from Rob’s deep experience along with materials from Mike Cohn and Steve McConnell.

Event:                         Calgary APLN: “Agile Estimation and Planning”
Presenter:                  Rob Morris, Principle Software Engineer, CDL Systems
Date:                          Thursday October 12, 2006
Time:                          12:00 PM – 1:00 PM (registration will commence at 11:30 AM)
                                   Light beverages to be provided
Location:                   5th Avenue Place – Conference Room
                                   Suite 202, 420 – 2nd Street SW

Topic: “Agile Estimation and Planning

Rob’s presentation will explore Agile estimation and how it can be used in determining what can be accomplished within an iteration and how to estimate multi-iteration release plans. He will also touch on firm fixed price estimation and compare these approaches with more traditional estimation approaches.

About the Speaker:

Rob is the principal software engineer at CDL Systems and has over 20 years experience developing software systems. His more recent work has involved overseeing the development of control station software used to fly unmanned aerial vehicles currently operating in Iraq and Afghanistan. Rob has a BSc. in Electrical Engineering and Masters degrees in Computer Science and Software Engineering. He has embraced Agile techniques and tries to shoehorn them into the more document centric military projects at every opportunity. He is also a certified ScrumMaster.


Calgary APLN Meeting: "Estimating and Planning Agile Projects"

The next Calgary Agile Project Leadership Network (APLN) meeting will be on Thursday October 12th when Rob Morris from CDL Systems will be talking about “Estimating and Planning Agile projects”. Here are the details:

Event: Calgary APLN: “Agile Estimation and Planning”
Presenter: Rob Morris, Principle Software Engineer, CDL Software
Date: Thursday October 12, 2006
Time: 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM (registration will commence at 11:30 AM)
Light beverages to be provided
Location: 5th Avenue Place – Conference Room
Suite 202, 420 – 2nd Street SW

Topic: “Agile Estimation and Planning”
Rob’s presentation will explore Agile estimation and how it can be used in determining what can be accomplished within an iteration and how to estimate multi-iteration release plans. He will also touch on firm fixed price estimation and compare these approaches with more traditional estimation approaches.

About the Speaker:
Rob is the principal software engineer at CDL Systems and has over 20 years experience developing software systems. His more recent work has involved overseeing the development of control station software used to fly unmanned aerial vehicles currently operating in Iraq and Afghanistan. Rob has a BSc. in Electrical Engineering and Masters degrees in Computer Science and Software Engineering. He has embraced Agile techniques and tries to shoehorn them into the more document centric military projects at every opportunity. He is also a certified ScrumMaster.

To register for this event and for more information about the Calgary APLN group visit www.calgaryapln.org