Conscious Software Development Telesummit

I was recently invited to be a guest speaker at the “Conscious Software Development Telesummit”. I am very pleased to participate in this event because the idea of “Conscious Software Development” is very consistent with the views I’ve been advocating on Agile Project Management.

Some people think that Agile has made all forms of project management obsolete and irrelevant. The idea that I share with the idea of “Conscious Software Development” is that we shouldn’t “throw the baby out with the bath water” in order to adopt an agile development process. There is still some value in doing conscious upfront planning as long as it is done intelligently in the right proportions and many situations call for a mix of traditional project management discipline and Agile development processes blended together in the right proportions to fit the situation.

The idea of the Conscious Software Telesummit is that there are a number of common issues that continue to plague many software development projects such as:

  • Deploying late
  • Going over budget
  • With missing and buggy features
  • Requirements scope creep
  • Team miscommunication and conflicts
  • “Shelfware” that is just not adopted by users
  • Projects that are not aligned to the organization’s strategy

Michael Smith has organized a number of speakers (including myself) at the Conscious Software Development Telesummit which is November 10th – 21st 2014. My interview is on “What We Don’t Know that We Don’t Know About Agile Project Management”

You can register for the summit for free and listen to another 21+ interviews and read the transcripts for detailed notes on how you can bring more consciousness to your software projects and organization and stop the 70% of zombie programming projects that give you headaches, lose you tons of money, and waste your team’s time.

Hear from 21+ top experts on software, team relations, strategy, deployment and more. So you discover things that you don’t know that you don’t know about creating successful projects and managing your portfolio of apps. This elite group of software superstars, best selling authors, popular podcasters, outstanding bloggers and celebrity coaches are imparting decades of experience, wisdom and some very generous free resources to help you begin making progress immediately.

This unique panel of experts is all unified under one vision; to empower you with practical understanding of how you can put their knowledge to use, bring consciousness to your software challenges and transform your work for the better.

It is easy to participate. Sign up for free with your email. Then listen to the MP3 interview recordings any time or anywhere: on your commute, office or home.

Join other leading CIOs, VPs of Development, project managers, architects, stakeholders, end-user champions and all those want to bring more awareness and choice to the complex art of software creation.

Click Here to Register

Reinventing “Project Management” (Superseded)

This post has been superseded by a new version. The new version can be found here:

The Future of Project Management

What sort of image comes to your mind when you think of the words “project management”? Does it have any relationship to Agile? My guess is that many people have a very well-ingrained image of what “project management” is and many people wouldn’t associate “project management” with Agile at all. To see things differently, we have to broaden our thinking about what “project management” is and get past many of the well-established stereotypes of what “project management” is.

Long-lasting companies have learned to “reinvent” themselves from time-to-time to keep up with changes in technology and the business environment they operate in. Here’s an excerpt from Harvard Business Review on that topic:

“Sooner or later, all businesses, even the most successful, run out of room to grow. Faced with this unpleasant reality, they are compelled to reinvent themselves periodically. The ability to pull off this difficult feat—to jump from the maturity stage of one business to the growth stage of the next—is what separates high performers from those whose time at the top is all too brief.”

“The potential consequences are dire for any organization that fails to reinvent itself in time. As Matthew S. Olson and Derek van Bever demonstrate in their book Stall Points, once a company runs up against a major stall in its growth, it has less than a 10% chance of ever fully recovering. Those odds are certainly daunting, and they do much to explain why two-thirds of stalled companies are later acquired, taken private, or forced into bankruptcy.”

Source: “Reinvent Your Business Before It’s Too Late”, Harvard Business Review, January 2011,

Here’s another excellent article on that subject:

“A successful company is like a great white shark. In its prime, it chews up the competition, but if it dares to sit still for too long, it dies. Some of the world’s most profitable and enduring companies have achieved their long track record of success by constantly reinventing themselves.”

“Cell phone maker Nokia started off selling rubber boots. The oil giant Shell used to import and sell actual shells. But these companies and the eight others on our list adapted with the times, evolving their product lines and business strategies to stay one step ahead of their customers’ needs. In business, it’s better to be a chameleon than a great white.”

Source: How Stuff Works, “10 Companies That Completely Reinvented Themselves”

Check out the link above for some great examples of companies that have done that successfully. As the article points out, the trick is recognizing that you are at a “stall point” and taking action before you have stalled for very long and that can be a difficult thing to do.

Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) is a great example of a company that didn’t reinvent itself in time to keep pace with changes in the market. DEC was a great company to work for and it was one of the very hottest companies in the market during the 1970’s and 1980’s when mini-computers were really hot, but when personal computers took over most of that marketplace, DEC didn’t reinvent itself fast enough to adapt to that transition and died as a result.

I think the same principle applies to individuals, organizations, and professions. I know I have had to “reinvent” myself at several points in my career to continue growing professionally – I worked for DEC for a number of years, but like many others, I had to find other employment in the early 1990’s as DEC began to fall apart. DEC was a great company to work for but getting laid off from DEC is probably one of the best things that has ever happened to me in my career because it forced me to reinvent myself and grow in new directions that I had never even dreamed of while I worked for DEC.

I’ve seen the same thing happen with professions – I worked in the Quality Management profession for a while after leaving DEC. For a long time, the quality management profession was based on the idea of quality control and inspection. In those days, you would typically find a lot of people in the role of “Quality Manager” who were responsible for managing the quality of products and services that the company produced; however, in the 1980’s and 1990’s the methodology for doing quality management changed rapidly.

  • Instead of relying heavily on inspection of products before they shipped, we learned that it was much more effective to go upstream in the process and build quality into the design of the products well before the products were ready to ship to the customer. That turned out to be a much more proactive and much more effective approach to managing quality
  • We also learned that it was much more effective to engage everyone throughout the organization who had any involvement in designing and building the products to make the quality of the products their responsibility rather than having it controlled by a “quality management” function

That had a significant impact on the quality management profession…the role of a “quality manager” became more of a consultative role of helping others design quality into the products and services rather than being a “gate-keeper” to control the quality of those products and services. I can remember when I worked in the quality management field at Motorola in the early 1990’s, my manager told me that our responsibility was to “teach coach, and audit in that order“. “Quality Management” was everyone’s responsibility and was no longer solely associated with someone who had the title of “Quality Manager”.

I published my first book in 2003 entitled “From Quality to Business Excellence” to help people in the quality management profession understand that transition and adapt to it. When that book was published, I gave a number of presentations to local ASQ (American Society for Quality) chapters and I can remember that there were a lot of people in all of those local ASQ chapters who had a hard time adapting to that change and were out of work.

What is happening with the project management profession today as a result of Agile is very similar to that transition I saw in the quality management profession a long time ago. There’s actually a lot of “project management” going on in an agile project but many people don’t think of it as “project management” at all, because its a very different style of project management that doesn’t fit with the typical stereotypes we have of what “project management” is and you may not find anyone at the team level in an Agile project with the title of “Project Manager”.

I am very passionate about the project management profession and I’ve been doing it for a long time, but we have to face up to the fact that there is a very fundamental transformation going on in the project management profession at this time and we’re beginning to reach a “stall point” whether you realize it or not. The growth in traditional project management roles is definitely slowing down and newer agile roles are rapidly developing, but we are in the very early stages of that transformation and the scope and magnitude of that transformation is not very obvious to many people. Many people don’t seem to realize it is happening at all, and when I talk to project managers in local PMI chapters I see a lot of people who are in “denial” and think that the way we’ve been doing project management for a long time will just go on forever. What needs to happen is that the project management profession needs to “reinvent” itself and rethink many things that have been taken for granted about what project management is for a long time before the profession gets too far into one of those “stall points” that is much more difficult to recover from.

For more detail on this, take a look at my blog post on “The Next Generation of Project Management”. I have also developed an online training course called “Agile Project Management Overview for Project Managers” to help project managers understand and adapt to this transformation.

Agile Project Management Overview Course

I am beginning to develop some online training courses that I will offer through Udemy on Agile Project Management. My goal is to help close the gap between the traditional project management community and the Agile community. I am almost ready to release the first of those courses, but I would like to do a pilot of it with a few selected people before I release it to the general public and the followers of this blog site would probably be high on my list for people to do that pilot review.

This initial course is fairly basic and consists of 12 lectures totaling about an hour and a half altogether. This course is primarily intended for project managers who have a traditional project management background and may have little or no background in Agile. Other courses that I am working on that I’m not ready to release yet will go into much more depth. The major objective of this course is to help shift people’s mindset to see Agile and traditional project management principles and practices as complementary rather than competitive with each other.

Here’s some information on the course, please send me an e-mail if you would be interested in piloting it and giving me your feedback and inputs before I release it to the general public:

Video Course Summary: (Approx 6 minutes) View Video Course Summary

Course Summary:
The concept of Agile Project Management is very rapidly evolving and will have a significant impact on the project management profession; however, we are in the early stages of that transformation and there is a lot of confusion about what impact it has on project managers:

  • There are many stereotypes and misconceptions that exist about both Agile and traditional plan-driven project management,
  • Agile and traditional project management principles and practices are treated as separate and independent domains of knowledge with little or no integration between the two and sometimes seen as in conflict with each other
  • Agile and “Waterfall” are thought of as two binary, mutually-exclusive choices and companies sometimes try to force-fit their business and projects to one of those extremes when the right solution is to fit the approach to the project

This course will help you unravel a lot of the confusion that exists; develop a totally new perspective to see both Agile and traditional project management principles and practices in a new light as complementary to each other rather than competitive; and learn to develop an adaptive approach to project management to blend those principles and practices together in the right proportions to fit any situation.

Course Goals and Objectives:

  • Develop an objective understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of both an Agile and traditional plan-driven approach to project management and how they can be combined in the right proportions to fit any given situation in an integrated approach to Agile Project Management
  • Learn what’s fundamentally different about Agile Project Management and the shifts in thinking that project managers might need to make to operate successfully in an Agile environment
  • Better understand the impact of Agile on the project management profession, the new challenges that Agile creates for project managers, and the potential roles that an Agile Project Manager can play