I recently had a brief twitter discussion with Mario Lucero that lead to a lengthy discussion over Skype who lives in Chile (the world is not so large). His recent experience suggested to him that a company that employed conventional project management to not be a good candidate for agile. My experience ran contrary to that, I have seen some companies employ both methods, picking the approach to match the project scope and risks. This made us wonder about the attributes that may predict success when it comes to introducing agile to a company. He has put his thoughts into a LinkedIn post at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/flat-corporate-hierarchy-mario-lucero.
Command and Control in Agile and Conventional Projects
We discussed the philosophy of the company in which he saw the resistance to moving to an agile approach to the work. From his perspective the company had an existing hierarchy and reassigning this hierarchy was not possible according to the company. This approach made scrum masters and an agile team difficult to create. The company was command control-centric and that precluded moving to a team based way of working. There were issues on how to use the existing structure to make agile work? Perhaps the existing structure would need to be reworked. This is not just a structural issue, it is philosophical and to change this requires executive acceptance.
The Myth of Multitasking
Another impediment to being able to transition to agile was the belief that the product owner can carry multiple roles in the company. The product owner carries significant responsibility in the product development. Product owners who are seldom available to answer questions about the product put the team in the same position as conventional project management perhaps even worse. In conventional project management, the team has, perhaps, a significant measure of documentation from which to work. This happens in any organization that believes in they myth of multitasking.
Both can happen though…..
It is possible for a company to embrace both the conventional approach to project management AND the agile approach, and even mash these two together to make the best solution for the organization. However, this will require relinquishing some command and control structure, at least within these agile projects, as well as reduction or elimination of multitasking. The ability for members of the project team to focus is one of the success factors for agile.
If you want to discuss this fascinating topic with Mario he can be reached on twitter (@metlucero), Skype (metlucero) or by gmail (firstname.lastname@example.org)