Thou shalt not leave anything up to chance. If there was a single statement that defined the PMO profession, that would be it. But we’ve come a long way. We’ve got all kinds of new tools, tricks, and techniques to help us plan, track and monitor everything better.
Agile is definitely one of the shiny new(ish) tricks in our toolbox, but like everything else, there are some rules you should follow when implementing it. So, here’s the not so short list of ten commandments for introducing agile in your organization:
1. Practice What Thou Preach
Introducing any change into any organization requires that you fully embrace it yourself. Since agile relies on quick changes, nimble teams, and cutting through the red tape, you need to set the bar. So, if your plan to “get agile” includes a 40-page PowerPoint presentation and a series of four-hour meetings, you might need to work on your approach! If you believe it, you can achieve it!
2. Thou Shalt Not Ask for Stuff That Thou will not Use
Agile is also minimalist. So, make sure you only ask for stuff that you actually need and will use. Anything else is wasteful, repetitive, and yes, a little soul-destroying.
3. Thou Shalt Not Govern from Behind a Desk
It’s easy to issue orders from your ivory tower and assume it will all get done. But real leaders don’t only lead from the front, they roll up their sleeves and get in the trenches. So come out from behind the desk, talk to your team, and help with the agile revolution.
4. Thou Shalt Not Underestimate the Power of Story Points
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
That’s a great allegory, but it’s not agile. Story points help your team to understand the value and difficulty of the tasks they have to tackle. Knowledge empowers planning. Use tools like story points to empower your team.
5. Thou Shalt Not Call Your Project Agile When It’s Clearly Waterfall
Agile is like a team of tactical monkeys, attacking a problem from every angle. Waterfall is a Roman regiment, marching through the project plan. Everyone knows the difference, so don’t call your project agile if it’s actually waterfall – you’ll just confuse the troops!
6. Thou Shalt Not Exceed Capacity
You commit to a sprint plan. Set a lofty delivery goal. Give everyone the pep talks about getting it done. But if everyone’s already got enough on their plate, there’s no way they’re going to meet those goals. Some PMOs think that setting hard-to-reach targets will encourage teams to overdeliver. But when they can’t deliver on time, you run the real risk of demoralizing and disincentivizing them. You’re setting them up to fail. Don’t do it.
7. Thou Shalt Not Depend on Software
Way too many people think that the right software can turn it all around. But the truth is, software is just a tool. Someone still needs to know how to use it to get the desired result. You need skills, planning, and tools to achieve project success, so don’t pin all your hopes on the software!
8. Thou Shalt Not Treat Agile Like a Noun
Let’s be clear. Agile isn’t something you “do.” It’s not something you put on and take off like a coat. Agile is something you are. So don’t “do” agile. BE agile!
9. Thou Shalt Not Waste Lessons Learned in Sprints
Agile is all about adaptation. So, while you might not deliver the perfect result during sprints, you will get ample opportunity to learn. Make sure that you take note of those lessons, and then apply them. Because feedback allows us to deliver value, so fail fast, learn fast, and adapt fast.
10. Thou Shalt Not Work in Isolation
You know those dusty books that outline “best practice?” Those ISO-inspired processes that set rigid requirements and not only prevent outside-of-the-box thinking but tape the whole thing shut? Collaborative, agile teams don’t work that way. They invent. They innovate. They argue and they spitball ideas. Throw away the dusty books. Lose the 100 volume processes and start really working with your team.
Agility is a fantastic way to approach projects, and it works particularly well in creative settings, where you are creating new and exciting things all the time. But you’re not agile just because you say you are. You have to walk the walk and talk the talk if you want to get the true, full benefits of being agile.
It can be a little uncomfortable to leave rules, charts, and carefully curated spreadsheets behind in favor of something more organic and collaborative, but agile can also transform your project management processes. If you’re going to try though, you have to go all in. So, make sure you’re sticking to these commandments, and find out what agility can do for your team.
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