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Your monthly dose of Project Management articles.

Adopting Agile approaches

This is another entry in a series of posts that covers different aspects relating to Scrum, being a Scrum Master, and everything Agile. These are the notes that I have taken during my journey and self-growth to understanding different perspectives and approaches in the Agile community.

I believe as times change; we must change as well. The idea of being set in one mind-set is no longer the case, and we must circle back to the human nature. As a Scrum Master this article will cover just a few ways to adapt to Agile projects and will discuss how having a new mindset of Agile can help in continuously being pro-active in this ever-changing environment.

A Shift in the Project Manager Role?

When companies transform and start shifting more towards Agile and using various methods and frameworks for project management, I often hear that there is no room for a project manager role. In the Scrum approach for instances there is the: Product Owner, Scrum Master, and Development Team. So, where does the Project Manager fit in?

The fact is that the role of the project manager is still needed. It is simply taking other forms. As a Scrum Master, I have witness various forms that the project manager can take, and in companies that are particularly invested in adaptive projects where changing conditions and feedback from the customer require teams to constantly adapt still require some form of project management.

For example, I have seen project managers perform the following: tracking dependencies, making sure objectives are on track, gathering metrics, alignment of the organizational goals and the Dev. Teams that are working on those projects, being the main vocal for the project at the organizational level, etc... However, I believe that project managers can serve the best as a leader in this new adaptive environment. What I mean by this, is that if an organization is willing to change from a more traditional project management style to a more agilistic approach to project management, the project manager seems to be in the most likely situation to be more of a leader needed to coordinate and plan through the changes.

Going back to my SAFe background, there are needs for project managers at the program and portfolio levels of the organization. However, as teams strive to be self-organizing and stay in control of what they choose to work on, project managers are still needed to maintain the focus and ask certain questions to help maintain the overall vision of the organization.

Adopting these Agile Approaches

Here are 3 main aspects that I believe is required in order to allow the new modern project-management approach to be successful: (1) Agile mindset, (2) leadership styles, (3) big emphasis on culture.

In order to adopt a new Agile mindset, one of several new leadership styles is required. These may include, but not limited to: 

  • Servant leadership—to support teams and organization leaders (This is the big one for me)
  • Inspirational leadership—to motivate people to reach their potential
  • Ethical leadership—to lead people with honesty, humility, and fairness (Get back to human nature)

For one to change the culture, one must be willing to make changes in their own behavior, beliefs, and traditions; a new mindset would be hard to exhibit in practice if the beliefs are too like before. This sounds a lot easier than it is. It takes time to change oneself, and requires dedication, letting go of old way, and most of all the willingness to unlearn.

Besides having the motivation for changing oneself, to become part of the modern project management profession, I believe it lies in the humility and humbleness that helps drives one’s inner self to the real change. A humbleness approach is key in influencing the change; and without it, change may be impossible to achieve.

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Jonathan Ray

About author

Agile Enthusiast | Certified Scrum Master | Agile Coach

As a SAFe Advanced Certified Scrum Master (SASM), he has successfully (and concurrently) coached and led multiple teams under SAFe. He is a firm believer in agile methodologies as the means to build happy and effective teams, delivering business value early, and supporting people and organizations to improve their work flow. He has helped in leading Agile transformations and worked in Agile environments with a focus on achieving an Agile culture that supports: trust and growth, transparency, and systems thinking.
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