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Introduce the Most Valuable Agile Practices First

Once I had incorporated some of the Agile values in the project team successfully, I decided to add a few key Agile practices. At this point, I expanded my reading to include an Agile project management methodology: Scrum. Why did I choose Scrum? It’s simple, really: because I like rugby, and because Scrum was the only approach being used by anyone in my network. Still, I resisted the urge to tell anyone that I was considering using an Agile project management methodology. The time wasn’t yet right to make a formal change.

Instead, I chose to introduce a few Scrum practices, with two purposes in mind: figuring out which practices worked, and determining which practices were the most palatable to my project team and stakeholders. Here are two of the practices I chose:

  • Project teams are most efficient when they organize themselves. I let the team decide who would lead each task, who would make critical decisions, and who would speak for the team. This practice had some immediate positive benefits for the project team:
    • Elimination of virtually all work bottlenecks.
    • Better understanding of the project team’s skills and interests.
    • More equal distribution of work activities.
    • Increased opportunity for everyone to develop and demonstrate competency.
  • The role of a project manager is to remove obstacles to progress. Changing the way I viewed my role proved to be a critical paradigm shift for me. As I took personal responsibility for eliminating roadblocks for my team, several things began to change. First, I developed a better appreciation for the need to manage the focus of the team. By letting them focus on making progress while I cleared the path ahead, our forward pace began to accelerate noticeably. Second, I gained the respect and trust of the team. They began to see me as a helpful resource. Third, we all started to have fun again. It had been too long since that had happened!
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