Home > Articles > Programming > Windows Programming

Agile Projects: Managing with a Light Touch

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter introduces Light Touch management, a project management system that emphasizes the ability to manage agile teams with a style that allows team autonomy and flexibility and a customer value focus without sacrificing control.
Like this article? We recommend

Like this article? We recommend

Introduction by the Author

Agile methodologies continue to grow in popularity all over the world. eXtreme Programming (XP) and Scrum seem to have the largest mindshare, though the communities that devotedly practice Crystal, Feature Driven Development and other agile methodologies are also growing. As the agile phenomenon continues to spread and the number of agile projects grows, the need for Agile Project Management (APM) will become even more critical. As more managers adopt APM, they need underlying values to anchor their efforts and pragmatic practices to deliver their projects successfully. The Declaration of Inter-dependence (DOI) is a set of values identified as common to leaders on the APM forefront.

The DOI — A Foundational Framework for APM Practices

Similar to the Agile Manifesto meeting of 2001, a group of managers, authors, consultants and team members from different project and product domains met in Redmond, Washington in February 2005 to discover our common ground with respect to Agile and Adaptive Management. Six core values emerged from our collaboration. Together, they form what we have named The Declaration of Inter-dependence (DOI) for Agile and Adaptive Management:

  • We increase return on investment by making continuous flow of value our focus.
  • We deliver reliable results by engaging customers in frequent interactions and shared ownership.
  • We expect uncertainty and manage for it through iterations, anticipation and adaptation.
  • We unleash creativity and innovation by recognizing that individuals are the ultimate source of value, and creating an environment where they can make a difference.
  • We boost performance through group accountability for results and shared responsibility for team effectiveness.
  • We improve effectiveness and reliability through situationally specific strategies, processes and practices.

Copyright 2005 David Anderson, Sanjiv Augustine, Christopher Avery, Alistair Cockburn, Mike Cohn, Doug DeCarlo, Donna Fitzgerald, Jim Highsmith, Ole Jepsen, Lowell Lindstrom, Todd Little, Kent MacDonald, Polyanna Pixton, Preston Smith and Robert Wysocki

The DOI is a foundational framework for Agile and Adaptive Management and should be utilized by projects and teams operating in dynamic and complex environments. True to its agile origins, the DOI focuses on people, strategies based on specific situations, and continuous feedback. Importantly, the DOI calls for recognizing people as the ultimate source of value in an organization, and thus for managing them differently.

Light Touch — An APM Practice that Realizes the DOI

To realize the DOI, a "Light Touch" management style that carries the potential for unleashing creativity and innovation is in order. The following chapter details my Light Touch APM practice — it is one of the six APM practices that I espouse for managing agile projects and realizing the DOI: Organic Teams, Guiding Vision, Simple Rules, Open Information, Light Touch and Adaptive Leadership.

"Intelligent control appears as uncontrol or freedom.
And for that reason it is genuinely intelligent control.

Unintelligent control appears as external domination.
And for that reason it is really unintelligent control.

Intelligent control exerts influence without appearing to do so.
Unintelligent control tries to influence by making a show of force."

—Lao Tzu, Book of Ethics

Most project managers work in companies that have some form of hierarchical organization. Organizational hierarchies extend into our project teams as well, along with modern, subtle forms of command and control. For example, in many of our organizations, team members are still required to perform tasks specifically assigned to them by their project managers without advance consultation. In the more egalitarian of these organizations, team members may be consulted by the project manager; but in the end, the assignment of work still happens in a top-down fashion. In other organizations, the hierarchical control lies with someone other than the project manager—perhaps a line of business manager. In this case, the project manager's responsibilities are reduced to the administration of the project schedule and lots of coordination among multiple groups, but these responsibilities come with very little influence over the teams they are supposed to be managing. Top-down decisions are still made, but by the line of business manager, not the project manager or the team. In previous chapters, I contended that these structures are mechanistic ones that are constructed to optimize cost and control. Chapter 1, "Agile Project Management Defined," introduced the organic complex adaptive systems (CAS) model as the preferred alternative for agile teams with highly skilled members whose primary charter is to deliver customer value. Chapters 3, "Organic Teams—Part 1," and 4, "Organic Teams—Part 2," detail how to construct Organic Teams based on the organic CAS model. But the question of control remains unanswered—how are agile managers supposed to control their teams that are organized according to the organic CAS model?

The objective of the Light Touch practice is to manage agile teams with a style that allows team autonomy and flexibility and a customer value focus without sacrificing control. The activities associated with this practice carry the following implications for agile managers:

  • Establishing decentralized control that defers decision making for frequently occurring, less critical events to the team
  • Managing the flow of customer value from one creative stage to another
  • Recognizing team members as whole-persons and treating them accordingly
  • Focusing on strengths rather than weaknesses to leverage people's uniqueness

The rest of this chapter lays out the activities you need to conduct to achieve this objective. The activities are grouped into two categories: intelligent control and whole-person recognition, and they are covered next.

Activities

Table 8-1 shows the leadership and management responsibilities required to establish Light Touch management on an agile project team.

The activities shown in Table 8-1 are covered in detail in the rest of this chapter, beginning with those in the intelligent control category, covered next.

TABLE 8-1. Establishing Light Touch: The Agile Manager's Responsibilities

CATEGORY ACTIVITIES
Intelligent control

Management:

  • Decentralize control
  • Establish a pull task management system
  • Manage the flow

Use action sprints Leadership:

  • Fit your style to the situation
  • Support roving leadership
  • Learn to go with the flow

Whole-person recognition

Leadership:

  • Maintain quality of work life
  • Build on personal strengths
  • Manage commitments through personal interactions
  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020