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Agile Project Leadership

It’s Monday morning. A new buzz pervades the workplace. We have projects, we have PRINCE2, we have Service Management with ITIL. We have ‘best value’ and ‘what works’. Along with being ethical, health and safety conscious and green, that were all the rage last week, the Monday morning meeting now urges us to be Agile. And this seems to mean more than just taking the stairs rather than the lift. We’ll be delivering our projects on-time and within budget, apparently. We’ll be delivering business value early without compromising quality. So what’s new? Another initiative to fit in!

Well, you may not believe it until you have tried it, but this one actually works the way we want to work! Don’t switch off – hear this one out!

Agile approaches focus on teamwork, collaboration and communication, enabling businesses to consistently deliver projects on-time and within budget; releasing a working solution incrementally, delivering value early and making that crucial return on investment. They are not hindered by heavy documentation nor too much formal process, but instead focus on having the right skills, clear goals and effective communication within the team to deliver in all aspects of a project.

The role of an Agile Project Leader is to encourage teams to self-organise and take responsibility. This may sound scary, but have you ever noticed how good people are at this if you just give them a chance? We all love having a part to play and it is no different when motivating project teams. People work best when their role forms a coherent whole and significantly, visibly contributes to the overall product or service. Trust that the team will do the job, if chosen with the right skills; and have the courage to give them the freedom to get the job done. In a nutshell, that’s Agile.

Agile approaches are not new. DSDM (www.dsdm.org) is a well-established UK framework for on-time, value-focused project delivery which has been in the Agile arena since 1994. Still at the forefront, the latest version, DSDM Atern, launched in April 2007, makes what was previously a members-only framework open and free to use. Many organisations large and small have proven the power of the cultural changes brought about by DSDM and the word is out! This is the way to deliver value for the business… this is the way people like us want to work.

Roosevelt said, “The best executive is one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”

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