A joke to start
Did you know every German factory has a Portuguese guy working there? He is locked inside a glass dome with a sign that reads: In case of emergency break glass.I’ll explain this joke for you just in case you don't know anyone from Portugal. Portuguese people are very nice and kind. We truly enjoy making other people comfortable and we are also very adaptable and full of initiative, which is a good thing for work in general. But... We can break any rule of any kind that anyone can think of. Thus the joke. When you have your processes running smoothly (a stereotype for the German way) and everyone is happy (ok, not a great match for the German stereotype) with the results they’re getting, I can assure you that the last thing you want around is a Portuguese guy. But when things get off track, and you need someone who’s not afraid to try out new things, then a Portuguese guy is a great option. Note: (i) I have to thank this joke to a good German friend of mine and (ii) the use of "guy" is meant to replace either man or woman and is not gender specific.
Agile in a glass dome
Where Agile fits in
Think of a marketing project. It’s very common to have marketing projects starting with a deadline, a budget and some needed outcome. And no clue as to what to do. It’s not too farfetched starting to think about getting email addresses for some Newsletter with a particular target audience and end up with a new stationary. Agile is perfect to get a grip on this. A couple of examples of Agile approaches for this particular case may clear things a bit:
- Having short term deliverables (or sprints) helps you correct course faster;
- Having a demo helps everyone involved realize if what is being done helps to achieve the desired outcomes.
- You'll probably change it frequently and drastically as you don't have a way to know what your project is supposed to do, you just have a needed outcome;
- You have to make sure you're working for the desired outcome and not doing things for the sake of doing them.
Where Agile doesn’t fit in
And we get to the ScrumBut
In the middle of this type of projects lie most projects with a wide range of characteristics associated to. Each of them has its own problems and for each of them you have to find a solution.
For instance, in a software development project where there is no trust between the customer and the project team, Scrum as it is won’t work. But. Consider this: why not get someone with a Business Analysis background into your Scrum team and turn him into the Product Owner? Would that work?
This is a choking thought. Next thing you know you’ll have a Design sprint... But then again, who cares? As long as it makes your project work out and you a better Project Manager...
And in this scenario, adding a Business Analyst to your project could be the solution. For starters you wouldn't have a trust issue. And someone with a Business Analysis background would probably have the required sensibility, knowledge and expertise required for the Product Owner role.
So getting a framework (Scrum or whatever) that solves most of your problems and changing the things you need to solve your particular problems in your particular project is in fact not only a good thing to do but the best to thing to do. Of course this is not all that simple as you have to make sure that the resulting “framework” works. Two year sprints doesn't sound very manageable with Scrum, does it? It’s much easier to go for Scrum and then if things go sour you can always blame it on Scrum itself.
But where’s the data?
On the other hand, it’s much easier to follow some recipe. But assuming there is one right way to manage all projects can only lead you into trouble. If you put it this way I guess it’s pretty obvious which way you should go: ScrumBut is the way. So ScrumBut a lot and maybe then...
...you can be a better Project Manager.
Images from www.mysafetysign.com, http://www.glass-dome.net, http://technology.amis.nl/ and Joana Ricardo
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Posted by Luis Seabra Coelho