Estimation – Bad Advice

Here’s a fun article on PMI.org.  By omission, it gives some very bad advice about estimation.  What is it missing?  Asking the people who are going to do the work!!!  Any estimation method or approach that fails to ask the actual human beings who are going to do the work about the effort required is going to be badly wrong.  (Of course, even asking the people who are going to do the work is no guarantee of good estimates.)

The starting point of the linked article is a study that showed 90% of projects having cost overruns.  To me, this just shows the futility of predicting the future, not anything about how we can (and should?) make better estimates.

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The BIG Difference Between Agile Teams and Project Teams

Last week I ran an Agile Coach Training session in-house for a large Canadian organization. It was just myself and five other participants. We were discussing possible things to do if there is a person on an agile team who is not able to work effectively in that sort of environment. One “intervention” we discussed was to “Assign Work”…

Pause

Now hopefully everyone who just read that phrase “Assign Work” had all sorts of alarm bells go off in their head!!!!

As an Agile coach, I would only do this under extreme circumstances. And I would always be fully aware of the consequence of assigning work. I would be removing that person from the team by Assigning Work. A person is not in an Agile (self-organizing) team if they need to be assigned work.

Guess what?!? THAT is the BIG difference between Agile Teams and Project (or Functional) Teams.

On a project, the Project Manager gets someone onto the team by assigning them work!!!!

On an Agile Team, a person is removed from the team by assigning them work.

Have you seen this happen? How did the assignee feel?

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Scrum Gathering – Orlando Florida – PMP? ScrumMaster?

PLEASE NOTE: This stream of notes does not reflect everything said in this session which was very discussion-heavy.

50k+ registered agilists – what about the unregistered?

Project Managers are the largest segment (18%) of agilists

CSM is a distinguishing designation for PMPs

How to mature the certifications – team members, etc.

Everyone wants it

PMI is responding to this because it has to.  Richmond chapter signed a collaborative agreement with the APLN, this is happening in other places as well.

People asking lots of questions.

IT Telecomm PMI Chapter playing a large role in building bridges.

PMI Global Congress in 2008 had 5 agile presentations that were all very popular.

PMI Agile group.

What gaps are there?

Shu-Ha-Ri progression:
Study under a master the “one true way”.  Then try many variations.  Then understand the principles and “the Way”.

Tension for agilists – transition.

Project/Product/Program manager vs. ScrumMaster and Product Owner – no set definitions.

Worried about hiding behind process…
Project Management is a scapegoat
Agile is a scapegoat
Both are because of human dysfunction
Mac vs. PC = Agile vs. PMI – camps based on labels
Moves us away from pragmatism to fundamentalism

Certifications:

CSM -> Scrum -> Agile Thinking

The CSM is the gateway to agile thinking

PMP -> Project Management -> Tools

How do we move people between PM and Agile?

Fundamentalism in Scrum – wrongness of not doing agile.

Not adapting Scrum to reality.

Agile is about truth-telling – different flavors of agile do this a little differently.

The Project manager often has multiple roles – this hides the truth.

The truth is necessary to successful projects.

Scrum focuses around an objective – e.g. making money.

Would it help if the PMBoK had explicity added an agile component?

PMI like IBM – when the IBM launched a PC, then it was okay for the corporate environment to use PCs.

Differences b/w PMBoK and Scrum are more about who, how and why, but not so much about what.

In most organizations, there is a customized “one way” and it is this that is difficult to change, not so much the PMBoK.

Some fundamentalism in Scrum: if you aren’t doing it right, then you are hiding dysfunction – not because Scrum is the one true way to do delivery, but because it is a way to do learning.

Keep my job!

Get agreement around values and principles. – do no harm -

How do we save the world?  Top down?  Grassroots?  Viral?  Not forced!  Building on success!

Attraction vs. promotion.

Not enough of us!  Lots of cultural inertia, crossing the chasm.

Not transforming people despite themselves.  You can’t transform someone else!

False dichotomy b/w execution and transformation.

Learning vs. dysfunction.  Example of Toyota making 1000s of improvements every day.

PMI is about advancing the profession of the project managers.  Therefore it is incumbent on the PMI to bring Scrum in because it works!!!

It needs to get it into the PMBoK

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Scrum Gathering – Orlando Florida – Open Space Discussions

All the Open Space sessions will be recorded and posted to a web site… to be determined, but I will add the links once they are ready.

Scrum Beyond Software

I arrived late for this one and only caught the final 20 minutes.  It seemed like it was a good discussion.  One person was interested in using Scrum for doing process documentation.  Another person was interested in Scrum for software maintenance.  Of course, I talked about what we are doing with our business using OpenAgile.

Scrum Must Die

Great discussion!  Main concepts seemed to be: Scrum is fuzzy, it is not well-defined, and can we find an abstraction of Scrum that then is applied to many different situations.  The discussion included many specific examples: is the Product Owner on or off the team, is the Product Owner always 1-to-1 with teams, is the Product Owner always a single person, is the sprint burndown done on the basis of hours or points, is the daily Scrum necessary, is the retrospective necessary (yes), is release planning necessary?

Anti-PMI

Vigorous discussion – a little unfocused, but really really interesting.  People making claims and counter-claims about Scrum and PMI (actually PMBoK).  Some interesting distinctions: Scrum as a framework that allows imperfection and encourages improvement vs. PMBoK as a framework that tries to give all the tools (best practices, processes) to avoid mistakes and do things “right”.  I enjoyed this discussion a lot!!!

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Scrum Gathering – Orlando Florida – Day 1 Summary

The first day of the Scrum Gathering in Orlando is finished.  I had a great day all-in-all.  I went to 3 and a half sessions, took a nice sun break in the afternoon, and then mingled at the evening reception.

Some observations:

More People Using Agile and Scrum for Non-Software

This was interesting.  When I actually spent time talking with people I heard several times that people were using agile approaches in non-software environments.  One person is working with an oil company to apply agile methods to all project work.  Another two people are extending agile / Scrum into marketing departments.  And one other person was applying agile into the whole organization.

Of course, with OpenAgile, I’m very interested in all this.  I’m hoping that I can organize some sort of group / institute / organization for people using agile methods outside of software development.  If you’re interested, please contact me on LinkedIn or Facebook or any other method you wish.  People seemed to be in general agreement that this is still new stuff, and that they are having to make adaptations to make agile work in these other environments.  After all, not all work is purely creative or problem-solving!

Economic and Recession Fears

Gregory Balestrero gave a talk about the relationship between the PMI and the Scrum Alliance.  I felt that his talk was much more 30000 foot level and that it probably wasn’t quite right for the audience.  The questions people asked at the end seemed much more appropriate for someone who was an author of the PMBoK rather than the CEO of the PMI.  There was a mis-match between presenter and audience.  At any rate, Gregory spoke quite a bit about the economy and the fears people have about it.  He emphasized that this time actually represents a real opportunity for organizations to get better at doing projects by focusing on value.  I couldn’t agree more!

As well, in my discussions with several other individuals who are coaches or run agile coaching businesses, I heard quite frequently that the past few months have been hard on business here in the United States.  One company has actually laid off some coaches.  This is in line with our experience at Berteig Consulting… up to a point.  December and January were slow, and in fact slower than “normal”, but we still did very well in the Dec. to Feb. quarter.  Clearly the Canadian market is still moving well, and there is a recognition that agile and Scrum are a means to help organizations get through these tough times.

One a related note, the resort we are staying in and in which the conference is being held is the Gaylord Palms.  Apparently, bookings are way down at the hotel to the point where they have temporarily closed some of the restaurants in the resort.  Likewise, when my family went to a water park during the day today, some of the rides were closed because there were so few people.  Please remember: this is Spring Break!!!  Clearly tourism is _way_ down.

Reconnecting with Friends and Collegues

I’ve met up with (in no particular order): Tobias Mayer, Alistair Cockburn, Catherine Louis (from Nortel), Sanjiv Augustine, Mike Vizdos, Carole Marks, Mitch Lacey, Jim Cundiff, Gabby Benefield, and probably others that I can’t remember.

I also met for the first time several people.  I hope I can keep in touch with everyone!

Highlight of the Day

Mike Cohn gave a presentation on Leading Self-Organizing Teams.  It was fantastic.  My favorite part of it was his introducing the CDE (Containers, Differences and transforming Exchanges) model.  In this model, self-organization is positively influenced by appropriate constraints on the containers, differences and transforming exchanges among the people who are asked to self-organize.  To explain: containers define in-ness vs. out-ness for participation, scope of work, environment of the group that is self-organizing.  Differences are the variations in the skills, qualities, attitudes, knowledge etc. of group members.  And transforming exchanges are the interactions between group members both amongst each other and with outside groups, where such interactions cause a transformation of some sort: creation of value, sharing of knowledge, new activities, etc.

By using the CDE model, we can diagnose challenges facing an agile team.  Mike Cohn included a number of scenarios for us to use to practice the application of this model.

Looking Forward to Day 2

Hopefully Day 2, which is primarily and Open Space event, will be even more interesting that Day 1.  I will continue to post frequent articles about the events of the day!  Please feel free to ask for more details in the comments… or to suggest that I connect with someone, or to bring up a topic for the Open Space portion.

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Scrum Gathering – Orlando Florida – Greg from the PMI

Gregory Balestrero

PLEASE NOTE: this article is based on my own notes from the talk given by Gregory Balestrero.  Any errors or omissions are my own.

Note: Tobias Mayer has written a nice analysis of this talk.

Worry about transformation of industry to become results focused

Economy
- fear and uncertainty
- in many countries optimism has turned to fear
- leaders and everyone else!
- many governments struggling because they can’t get assistance from private sector
- move government to understand portfolio management of 800 billion dollars
- example article here
- 55% of PMI members are saying projects cut back or terminated
- NYT saying these economic hardships are an opportunity

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Sound here is difficult: it’s muddy, and it’s not compressed enough.  I’m having a hard time hearing Gregory speak.

BACK TO THE TALK:

Economic challenges are a great opportunity to manage well

PMI 1/2 million members – double digit growth
Scrum 50k members

PMI undergoing change for a long time
- break down the myths on both sides
- I’m a barrier breaker
- transformation in the development of standards
- joke about PMBoK – Demons
- recognized iterative

“We don’t recognize and brand anything” – literal quote

Credentials are changing
- PMP
- PGMP (program management)
- Risk and Schedule credentials
- knowledge vs. competency based credentials
- building communities (Specific Interest Groups – vertical communities)
- – 31 discrete bodies of knowledge
- – difficult to navigate
- taken 5 years, reinvigorated governance
- first new community of practice: agile community
- – EDITOR’S NOTE: this is actually pretty cool
- organizational focus – shifting to include helping organizations, not just practicing project managers
- – EDITOR’S NOTE: it took them 40 years to figure out this was needed
- we have legacy
- started by people from a particular background
- here out of respect
- Questions about PMI, Demons, Collaboration

QUESTIONS:

1) Problems with economy – unable to react to changes in demand. This is more about Product management, not Project management.  how can we help Product managers do a better job?

- integration of Product and Project management is important.  Change in demand – telecomm moving towards a six-month lifecycle. E.g. one org going from 8-9 month lifecycle to halve that.  Project mgmt. can help with this.
- laying off people is causing long-term problems
- quarterly earnings is the wrong focus

2) Greg Smith with Thoughtworks.  Open to collaboration between PMI and ScrumAlliance.  Could you encourage PMP’s to seek CSM certifications?

- already happening that people are doing this
- as far as encouraging… figure out the fit – does it make sense to use a particular approach?  Will PMPs or CSM’s be automatically be accepted?
- org won’t necessarily allow the use of these principles
- what will best meet needs of these two
- collaboration on credentials? where is the common ground… share knowledge… then see where credentials

3)  From State Farm, CSM and PMP.  Research that PMI is conducting?  Independently or partnering with ScrumAlliance in risk management or quality management.

- no collaboration at this time
- just recently created a risk management standard and credential
- great deal of research that went into this
- standard on risk is available to members
- this cuts across methods

EDITOR’S NOTE: Gregory seems to be too high up to address many of the questions satisfactorily.  I wish someone would ask a question about the organization of the PMI, rather than the details of Scrum or PMBoK.

4) Mark from Renewtech. Questions about labelling – “project manager” vs. “agile project manager”.

- people can call themselves whatever they want
- credentials from an organization are different
- critical in hiring (body of knowledge, competency)
- “Agile Project Manager” – nice branding but what does it mean?

5) Product Owner, previously PM with PMP.  PM responsibilities divided between PO and SM.

- didn’t answer directly – claimed only personal experience not enough to answer
- “fit”

6) Can agile/scrum events be used as Continuing education units?

- basically, yes… submit forms to request PDUs

Ken Schwaber asked for show of hands for PMPs in the audience.  I’d guess about 1/5 to 1/4 raised their hands.

EDITOR’S NOTE:
Honestly, I think this guy probably has a lot of valuable stuff to contribute.  Most executives do.  But I think that this audience did not see the opportunity.

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