Agile methods move us away from traditional command and control project structures and toward processes that encourage team empowerment and self-organization. This team centric approach represents a real power shift that can leave the traditional project manager wondering about their new role on an agile project.
Some have gone so far as to question if a project manager even has a role on an agile team.
In my last few posts I have been discussing the idea of simplicity and simple rules frameworks. I am trying to drive home the point that agile methods are not designed to tell the whole story. They are minimally prescriptive. They give us a handful of techniques and a whole lot of principles and values. These techniques, principles, and values serve as guides to shape our more complex decision making.
Our decisions must be guided by experience, and for many of us, our experience comes from many years managing more traditional projects. It comes from what we’ve learned on the job and studied in the PMBOK. A traditional project manager has the potential to contribute a wealth of knowledge, experience, and discipline to an agile project; there are a just few things we need to think about a little differently.
Being agile means you accept input from reality and respond to it. That is really the main difference. Let’s embrace PMI concepts like rolling wave planning and progressive elaboration and really learn how to apply them. Let’s figure out how to leverage what we know about traditional project management, get really good at accepting input from reality, and help develop project teams that are able to respond to changing circumstances.
Real power comes from helping the team be successful. Real power comes from delivering value to our customers. That is what Agile Project Management is all about.