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Let’s Define Our Starting Place

Mike Cottmeyer Chief Executive Officer
Reading: Let’s Define Our Starting Place

I’m telling you guys… if you’re not participating over on the AgilePMI Yahoo! Group, you are missing out on some great conversation. Think about it… this is THE issue going on right now impacting the agile community. We talk about agile and transformation… but the traditional establishment holds the keys in most of our organizations. Unless we can show them how to transition safely, we are relegated to bottom-up, grass roots agile initiatives… most of which have a very low probability of making any kind of meaningful difference in our companies.

That said, one of the problems I think we have… not just on the Yahoo! group, but as a community in general, is that we often talk past each other on pretty key issues. I was going back and forth with Dan Mezick and Dennis Stevens on the idea of team authorization. All of a sudden it dawned on me that Dan and I agreed in principle on where we wanted to take the organization, but Dan wanted to discuss the organization as it should be… I wanted to talk about the organization as it was, and how we can be successful in it.

It seems to me, that in any conversation, we have at least three possible starting points for debate:

1. The current state
2. The future state
3. The transition state

My guess is that most people in the group agree that something is wrong with the current state of software project management. That is why they spend time reading and posting and exploring how to do things differently. I’d also guess that most folks in the agile community agree on the ideal end state. We might have some differences of opinion around Scrum or XP or Lean or Kanban, but I think we all value the idea of empowering teams, respecting individuals, and helping organizations deliver the most value possible.

Some of us are so passionate about the way things should be, that point of view becomes the starting place, and they argue for change right now. Others of us have heard those messages and found that they don’t resonate given the current regulatory climate in our companies. These people want to talk about what they can do today… without some sort of massive transformation. They don’t have any clear way to make the kinds of changes that the ‘future state’ people are advocating. Others, like me, want to talk about how to get from point A to point B as safely as possible.

Understanding the point of view from which the other person is arguing from can be really valuable as we’re trying to move this discussion forward. I hate seeing us run in circles with each other when there is probably more we agree on than we really think. The futurists hold the vision, the today people have the current reality, and the transition folks want to find a way to bridge the two. Maybe if we can start our conversations by clearly stating our starting point… and have more meaningful discussions around all three different viewpoints… we might have a way of moving this thing without constantly going around and around, without ever really increasing our understanding.

By the way… here is a link the Agile PMI group if you are interested in joining the conversation:

Oh, by the way… here is day #3 and day #4 of Summer Camp… have fun!
Summer Camp Day #3

Summer Camp Day #4

Next Interesting Post... 6/14/2010 through 6/20/2010

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