watch out goblins

Watch Out, Goblins!

Here in Fairy Project Land, perfect requirements lead to perfect planning and the delivery of a perfect product (every time), a product that satisfies the customers’ every desire. OK, the pixies working on our projects have to use a lot of paper to write absolutely everything down (which upsets the dryads who live in the…

on herding agile cats

On Herding Agile Cats

Strategy – defined principles prescribing actions that will (hopefully) help us arrive at a future, aspirational state – is important. Really important. But we often ignore the big picture when running projects. It is too easy to forget that strategy and the execution of that strategy form an ecosystem in which the death of one will inevitably…

stand up real product owner

Stand Up, Real Product Owners

Who do you think is actually responsible for project success? Would you say it’s the Project Manager, or the Sponsor? Maybe the Development Team Leader who gets the product built, or even the Test Manager whose work drives development via acceptance testing and test-driven development? What do you reckon? Well, in traditional projects such responsibility…

strategy1-368x260

Game of Strategies

Silence blanketed the Great Hall as the King’s Minister, a wizened elf of indeterminate age and hairstyle, stood to address the War Council. “There is discord on the western frontier. News reaches the Council of increased pirate activity along the eastern seaboard. Troop movements have been spotted in the south by the eagles. Esteemed brethren,…

Campain to Free Business Analysts

Campaign to Free Business Analysts

When a project doesn’t run according to plan, a common reaction is to assign more project managers to create “better” plans in the belief that their combined clairvoyant abilities will somehow make the future more knowable. In a similar fashion, letting loose a posse of business analysts when faced with unexpected hurdles or unknowns seems…

giving project managers a bad name

Giving Project Managers a Bad Name

I’ve always had an issue with the title “Project Manager” as it does seem to place role owners firmly at the top of an organisational hierarchy where they are deemed to have sole responsibility for managing their staff on a project that only they own. In my view, for anything other than the simplest manual activity this…

real project startup

Real Project Start-Up

Most project managers I’ve met believe that the only way to give life to a new endeavour is to forcibly introduce stakeholders to Prince2 (or similar) methodology and then to undertake extended interviews with customer group representatives in order to detail to the comma and the second what will be built and when. Thus, full-day…

the project magnate

The Project Magnate

Building a company has never been easier. Free software, fast computers and 3D printing, all enhanced by the “interweb”, make it a simple(r) matter to research, design, create, market, and even sell a range of products with only a small up-front capital investment and limited (if not a single-person) workforce. The game is well and…

I've got no strings

I’ve Got No Strings

Few would challenge the importance of a stern manager – let’s call him the “Captain” – taking control of the Good Ship Project, applying a strong hand at the helm to ensure the correct course is set and a successful conclusion reached. I for one, however, take issue with such a “command and control” approach.…

waterfall rules

Waterfall Rules?

I’ve written before about similarities between Waterfall and Agile (Is Agile so Different), but I have recently been forced to conclude that I often struggle to present a balanced debate (hardened agilite that I am)! There are, of course, pros and cons to all approaches, so it’s probably time for a modicum of magnanimity (I…

what is agile

What is Agile? No, Really, What is it?

Now, I consider myself somewhat of an agile practitioner. So I was rather despondent when somebody (from outside of the “project world”) recently asked me “What is Agile” and I found myself unable to give a satisfactory explanation! Sure, I could recite (most of) the 12 agile principles, and evangelise about self-organising teams, but I…

you're not gonna start chanting

You’re Not Gonna Start Chanting?

Have you ever tried martial arts? Perhaps a bit of surfing? Or maybe you consider yourself somewhat of a spiritualist? Well, all of these are disciplines that centre ultimately on self-discovery. In the same way, Agile principles are more than just a work ethic – they are a way of life. Indeed, as Nicholas St. North…

status reports are evil

Status Reports are Evil

I am not a big fan of status reports. As far as I’m concerned, they should all come with a health warning: “this is a political tool – all statuses allowed as long as they are green”. Surely common sense tells us that the only indicator of how well we are doing is the rapid…

projects- a big list of stuff

Projects: a Big List of Stuff

Whatever agile methodologies may say about “plug and play” teams, in an increasingly complex working world it is no longer feasible for one person to have the skills necessary to undertake all of their colleagues’ activities. While an engineer in Henry Ford’s day could rise through the ranks to become a project manager able to…

pirates ahoy

Pirates Ahoy!

The Agile Project Management people provide an analogy whereby traditional project management methodologies are likened to a railroad track between two known points and Agile to a boat taking a faster, uncharted seaborne route. The idea is that a skilled boat captain should be able to make rapid and calculated course alterations in order to arrive…

Is Agile So Different

Is Agile So Different?

Project managers tend to get very all-or-nothing about their favourite methodologies. A suggestion of anything less than 100% requirements coverage is invariably met with folded arms and cries of “cowboy approach” while huge requirements documents elicit calls of “useless” and “won’t be read”. Maybe the biggest reason for these emotive responses is a lack of…

upvote your pm

“Upvote” your PM

In his book, “Daemon”, Daniel Suarez envisages a future where people use wearable technology to explore an alternative internet called the “Darknet”. This tool makes it possible to layer virtual information onto the real world, for example superimposing people’s finances in order to make judgments about their credit-worthiness (now there’s a use for Google Glass!).…

plan bad people good

Plan Bad, People Good

Is your working week mapped out in advance with a detailed to-do list and discrete meeting appointments in your calendar? Probably, but how about longer term? A task list for the next twelve months is likely to be much more of an overview including summarised entries such as learning a programming language or taking a…

Sony- Agile in Action

Sony: Agile in Action

The Agile Manifesto Principle # 1: “Individuals and Interactions over Processes and Tools.” A visual case study of the Agile ethos in action, from a previous client.   HOME

project management rip

Project Management, RIP

What do PM’s actually do? Replace “physicist” with “project manager” in the following exchange from the 1988 movie “Young Einstein”: does this pretty much sum up most people’s impression of the PM role?  “Dad, I want to be a physicist project manager” “What do they grow son?” “They don’t grow anything” “Well what’s the use of…

get agile

Get Agile

When starting a project, a conscious decision must be made regarding the governance and methodology to be adopted. For many people, the default choice is a serial “Waterfall” process of requirements-gathering followed by design, build, hopefully a bit of testing, and finally deployment, with each phase completed before the next can start and no phase…