Project Management Leadership
When answering previous questions on when and how to apply Agile as a successful project management method we have asserted that leadership is important in projects that have to be run in a highly dynamic environment. This is not so much about “doing things right”, but more about “doing the right things” that add value for stakeholders. Leadership of project managers refers both to internal (team related) relations and external (stakeholder related) relations. Creating a shared vision and getting commitment from important stakeholders has been defined as a critical success factor in projects with high dynamics. In this part 4 of our white paper series on Agile project management we try to find the answer to the question: what personal consequences will Agile project management have for the project manager?
Answering this question we first defined the differences between management and leadership. From the perspective of a project manager this does not mean that he or she should change the personal management style completely; it is more about integrating two important leadership style elements: servant leadership and connective leadership.
Next we defined important domains and competences that are relevant for servant leadership when helping and enabling the Agile development team to do their job. Then we defined important domains and competences that are relevant for connective leadership when connecting with relevant stakeholders and their values, even though these values and related interests seem to conflict. When looking for answers on how to integrate these leadership aspects in one’s personal project management style we found D. Goleman’s concept of emotional intelligence very helpful.
Finishing this paper on leadership aspects of Agile project management we will give our view on the question what the organizational (- cultural) consequences will be when applying Agile project management methods becomes a routine for the business. Definitely for traditional hierarchical organizations that are confronted with the challenge to become Agile at a business level a profound change is necessary.
Finally we will summarize what makes Agile projects successful seen from the project manager’s perspective.
- Servant leadership
- Connective leadership
- Personal growth towards emotional intelligence
- Organizational consequences
- Making your Agile projects successful
How to run an Agile project? What tools and techniques are available
When answering Q2 we have advocated considering Agile project management as a separate (PM) project management method, to be used in project environments that are characterized by uncertainty. This is caused by the novelty of the domain of the project to the organization and/or new technologies that are being used (technology is unknown).
Positioning of PM methods, adapted model from R.D. Stacey
In this white paper we try to find an answer for Q 3: 'How to run an Agile project; what tools and techniques are available?'. When finding the answers to several sub questions we used the course book for passing the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner Exam. This book is written by Mike Griffiths.
- Agile framework
- Agile project management process groups
- Agile management principles
- Agile process groups
- Agile project management elements
Agile project management
When answering our first question “What is Agile?” we stated that Agile projects are related to a dynamic project environment where customers are not able to define the project result. In this part of our white paper we try to find an answer to the next question (Q2): Where to apply Agile as a successful project management method?
Definitely in the current situation of economic crisis, increased competition, cost cutting actions, changing preferences of customers, impact of new (social) media, managing change initiatives by projects becomes more and more important. At the other hand increased project complexity makes successful change more and more difficult. Despite this emerging situation a lot of organizations still pay too little attention to select project management methods that are fit for purpose.
In a Dutch research ultimately ten project management methods were identified and described in detail. The methods were compared using IPMA- Nederlandse Competentie Baseline version 3.0. The research concluded that a number of these methods were not related to a project management process. Only four methods could be linked, from which PRINCE2 and PMBoK were most (also internationally) known. The study ultimately concluded that the best project management method is an integrated (methods, leadership, teamwork and stakeholder management) method. However no link was made to fitness for purpose or effectiveness related to type of project or project complexity. Another interesting finding was that no “specific “Agile project management method was identified. DSDM (one of the methods which is Agile related) was seen as an IT system development method rather than a project management method.
With this information in mind we set up a structure to help us to get an answer to Q2.
In chapter 1 we focussed on finding an answer to what can be seen as a successful project. An important statement will be that success should not be related to “the golden triangle” of time, costs and quality but it should be related to the perspective of involved stakeholders. Choosing a project management method which matches type of project (complexity) is important to be successful.
In chapter 2 we focussed on finding an answer to define fitness for purpose. We choose to use the degree to which a project management approach fits project complexity. Based on complexity levels four types of projects were identified. Here we also tried to find an answer what type of project suits with Agile projects. This ultimately helps to define where to apply an Agile project management method.
In chapter 3 we focussed on finding an answer on the essentials of a project management method. Project management is defined as a process resulting in (sub rational) decisions on how to manage a project. Based on research on project success factors  we have identified critical elements of a project management method or system.
In chapter 4 we focussed on finding an answer why it is important to contemplate Agile project management as a distinct method for managing (type 3) complex “open ended projects”. Next we tried to find to define the essentials of an Agile project management (PM) method.
In chapter 5 we focussed on defining practical guidelines for applying the Agile PM method using the principles from Agile manifesto.
In chapter 6 we described essential principles from value – based project management which can be used to manage very complex (sometimes also called chaotic or fuzzy front end), level 4 projects. In our opinion this helps to better understand which behavioural elements are important to make an Agile project management method work. These principles are described in a thesis research on value- based project management from Nicole Mulder.
 E.Baardman, G. Bekker ea. Wegwijzer voor methoden bij projectmanagement, 2006 Van Haren Publishing.
 A4, DSDM, New Product development, PMBok, PRINCE2, Projectmatig creëren, Projectmatig werken, Systems Management, LAD, Proces management.
N. Mulder, thesis report Value- based project management 2012
- Successful project.
- Complexity and types of projects.
- Project management method.
- Agile project management method.
- What is characteristic for Agile as a project management method?.
- Agile project management process and elements.
- Practical guide lines for applying Agile project management method.
- Value- based project management
What is Agile
Lately we hear more and more about an Agile project approach. What is Agile? A project management methodology like PMBOK or Prince2 or do we have to think of something else? The latter is the case. The Agile approach does not focus on the project management process as PMBOK and PRINCE2 do, but it focuses on the implementation or delivery process within the project. The word Agile literally means lean or limber. An Agile approach is more about leadership and flexibility than about management and control. This is based on the belief that nowadays in project environments there is continuous change and uncertainty. Modified wishes, insights and priorities, for example because the customer or business does not know what she wants, plays an important role. It is this kind of environment that makes it important to facilitate change, without losing the project result out of sight. This open attitude to change is in the interest of delivering business value and the goal is to generate business value for the customer.
The final product of an Agile project is not completely fixed in advance, but is something that evolves and adapts through continuously gaining insights about the wishes of the customer and complexity of the solution during the project. Compared to more traditional project approaches Agile distinguishes itself by an open and flexible attitude rather than a management and control attitude towards change. Examples of the latter are the need to create extensive detailed requirements documents at the start of the project or a formalistic application of change management procedures.
The Agile approach is mainly used in IT system development. But it is expected to be the iterative development approach that can also be used in other fields like product and process development.
- What is Agile?
- Agile Approach
- Agile Manifesto and Values
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation.
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
- Responding to change over following a plan.
- The human factor in an Agile method
- Agile project Management