PMI Agile Launch Event

Agile 2009 Chicago On Tuesday I was in Chicago for the PMI Agile Community of Practice launch event. It was hosted by Thoughtworks and kicked off by Martin Fowler and Jim Highsmith. Jesse Fewell and I introduced the community and outlined the goals.

With getting on for half a million PMI members worldwide, many in the knowledge-worker domain, agile methods have a lot to offer this already huge community. It is set to get larger too, PMI member growth progresses at about 20% per year, and PMI research indicates there are up to 20 million people engaged in knowledge-worker projects worldwide.

The spread of agile ideas to the PMI is inevitable and already happening on many fronts. I was concerned that it would be adopted incorrectly, fail and then be dismissed. This is still a risk, but with the launch event at Agile 2009 and an open invitation to Agile Alliance members to get involved and drive the initiative, the hope is that the initiative will succeed.

For an event that proposed bringing agile and PMI groups together, there was surprisingly little conflict or debate. But, then I suppose those people opposed self-selected and chose not to attend. Besides, few people subscribe to a purely agile or purely traditional approach to all projects anyway. We have to be pragmatic and chose our approach based on project and organizational circumstances.

The “PMI-Agile Community of Practice” is a free to join group aimed at “Equipping PMI members with Agile knowledge and skills".  For more details see the community wiki.


Launch of the PMI Agile Community

Agile 2009 The “PMI Agile Community” will be officially launched at the Agile 2009 Conference in Chicago, August 24. This has been made possible by Jesse Fewell and the strong team of volunteers pushing through the red tape of the PMI and the help from supportive PMI members.

For over eight years now I have been promoting taking agile principles to the PMI. In 2001-2003 my proposals for the PMI Global Congress conference (that were pretty derogatory of command and control approaches) were rejected. It was not until 2004 I smartened up and was successful in getting my paper (Using Agile Alongside the PMBOK) accepted and went to Anaheim to present at the PMI conference.  That was the only agile presentation that year at the conference, but year on year since, there have been more and more agile sessions at the PMI conferences. In 2007 when I met Jesse at the PMI Global Congress in Atlanta (where I presented on Developments in Agile Project Management) there were about 10 other agile related sessions.

This year I had decided to skip the Agile Conference, only because August is prime hiking, biking and climbing season in Canada’s short summer in the mountains. Yet, I cannot miss this launch; it has been so long coming, so I’m flying in for a couple of days for the community kick-off. I am glad to be attending, if only for a short time.

The PMI Agile Community is a grass-roots initiative between a group of Agilists and the Project Management Institute (PMI) to create a new Agile Community of Practice (CoP) within the PMI, with the stated purpose "to equip PMI members with Agile knowledge and skills". To read more about the PMI Agile Community see the Community Wiki

Thanks to the Scrum Alliance for sponsoring our launch event and the Agile Alliance for helping us kick this off at the best event of the year, the Agile Conference . I am looking forward to it.

2004 PMI Paper - Using Agile Alongside the PMBOK

2007 PMI Paper - Developments in Agile Project Management


Project Success?

Measuring Success What defines project success? On “time and budget”, or “to specification and quality requirements”, maybe all of these? No, we are missing some less tangible, but critical components; how do people feel about the project once it is done.

On May 12 the PMI-SAC Awards for the best projects and the best project managers will be held in Calgary and Captain James Lovell, Commander of Apollo 13 will be giving the keynote “Apollo 13 – A Successful Failure”. This year I am a judge for the awards ceremony and in reviewing the applicants I have been thinking about what constitutes a successful project which prompted the recollection of some famous projects...

Apollo 13
Let’s consider Apollo 13. The third manned mission by NASA intended to land on the moon that experienced electrical problems 2 days after liftoff. An explosion occurred resulting in the loss of oxygen and power and the "Houston, we've had a problem" quote from Lovell (that is widely misquoted as, "Houston, we have a problem".)

The crew shut down the Command Module and used the Lunar Module as a "lifeboat" during the return trip to earth. Despite great hardship caused by limited electrical power, extreme cold, and a shortage of water, the crew returned safely to Earth and while missing the main moon-based scope, it was a very successful rescue, allowing future missions. “A Successful Failure

Titanic
(The 1997 film not the original ship). This film was six months late, massively over budget and finished with a bloated 194-minute running time. Seemingly not a good performance given the original schedule, budget and scope requirements. Yet the film turned into an enormous critical and commercial success, winning eleven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and became the highest-grossing film of all time.

 

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Upcoming Events

2009 Calendar After returning from teaching a PMI class in New Orleans, the PMI have added some additional venues for the course later in the year. This is a good sign for agile methods within the PMI community; the course sold out quickly which hopefully indicates that many companies are still able to invest in training.

My 2 day Agile Project Management courses will be offered:

Of course PMI events go on throughout the year (full schedule), but this year I have deliberately kept the summer free from work events to enjoy some outdoor things closer to home. I am currently signed up for the Police Half Marathon, Calgary Marathon, Canmore 24hrs of Adrenaline, The Canadian Death Race, The TransRockies Bike Race, and Half Moon Adventure Race. Time will tell if I survive them all or stub my toe on the first one and miss the rest – hopefully not! I will report any remotely work related news back here.

Other agile events that look interesting this year include:
Atern Road Shows in the UK: London May 14, Bristol June 18, Manchester June 25.
XP 2009 Sardinia, Italy May 25-29
Agile 2009 Conference, Chicago August 24-28
Agile Business Conference, London October 13, 14

So many events, so little time!


Agile in New Orleans

New Orleans Next week I’ll be teaching a two day Agile Project Management course for the PMI in New Orleans. The class sold out quickly; I only teach 3 or 4 times a year for the PMI and I wondered if registration numbers would be down this year. The fact that it filled up so quickly is very positive and perhaps more people are tuning to agile as a way to get more work done with less budget.

This year’s Agile Business Conference in London has the theme of “Driving Success in Adversity” and I have submitted a presentation outline and plan to attend. There submission system states “This year we invite presentations and tutorials emphasising how Agile practices promote efficiency in project delivery, guarantee business value and optimise return on investment.” This seems a great theme, agile is all about maximizing business value, and I am looking forward to the conference.
 
Meanwhile, in New Orleans next week, I am keen to hear how organizations are currently using agile methods within their organizations to add value. (I am also looking forward to sampling the food and feeling some warmer weather after a long Canadian winter!)


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.


Agile Project Management in Alaska

Anchorage I have just returned from a great trip to Alaska. It was made possible by a request to speak at the PMI Alaska chapter and deliver two one-day training courses. Alaska is one of those places I have always wanted to visit and so I took the family and extended the trip to include a mini vacation.
 
The Work
For a city with a relatively small population (360,000) they have an active and well attended PMI Chapter. Over 70 people turned out for my dinner presentation on “Leading Agile Teams” and then we had 40 people each day for the one day classes.

Both were new classes, the first “Agile Project Mechanics” was a one day class focussed on agile processes, agile planning and estimating, etc. The second one day class, “Agile Project Dynamics” which was all about the people side of projects, building empowered teams and leadership rather than management. I was a bit hesitant about separating these topics since I think you need a combination of mechanics and dynamics; but as it turned out most people attended both days and so a balance was achieved.
 
Agile Beyond IT
The group was more diverse than I am used to. When I teach the SeminarsWorld course normally the attendees come from the IT industry. In Anchorage we had IT, construction and engineering managers, a fireman, and local authority project managers.

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