Successful Collaboration requires Team Engagement

Each person on the project team is essential to a successful outcome. The level of engagement that each team member has can significantly influence the level of success the project will have.  Here are a few ideas for engaging your team.

Understanding the Pain

If you can involve the entire team in reviewing requirements, then the team will understand why change is needed to reduce or avoid the pain being experienced.  Don’t just tell them what you want changed.   This not only helps all team members better develop their piece of the solution for better test planning, it allows the entire team to discuss the problem and possible solutions so the best solution can be selected by everyone – including the customer/business. Read more


Becoming Agile for Project Managers

Learn how Project Managers using traditional Waterfall methods are becoming Agile…


(click book to purchase)


  • Is Agile only for software projects?
  • How and Where to identify areas to leverage Agile
  • How do you move to Agile?
  • How does Agile affect the traditional Project Manager role?
  • and more…

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What’s a Good Measure of an Agile PM’s Success?


Most agree that an Agile  project managers measurement of success is NOT “product adoption” – rather it includes various metrics.  Some metrics are from PMBOK, such as the triple constraints:  Time – Budget – Scope/Features.

….I would argue there are other key metrics to an Agile PM’s success.   Being an Agile PM is an art, so lets talk about some of that artistic magic…

(1)  Enabling your team to own the project – When everyone owns the project – they also own the success of the project or product adoption.   Many PM’s today are contractors that are handed a project from a PMO department with an End-Date, Budget, and Scope already dictated to them.   How does a PM hit these expectations handed to them?    If a team is going to truly “own” the project, then they must buy into these set expectations to have a chance of being successful.  Agile PM’s success will be directly tied to their ability to build that “buy in” by all team members.

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Agile Simulation – The Daily Standup Meeting

VideoWhat better way to learn how to do a great Daily Standup than watching it done right before your very eyes in just 10 mins!

First witness a disfunctional way of doing Standups – then see how it should be done.

It really is an excellent example to watch and learn.

Watch the video by clicking HERE


Visualizing Agile Projects using Kanban Boards

Visulization can help make any type of problem managable.  It is not by mistake that the analogy of eating an elephant (piece by piece) works well for us here when taking complex problems and we break them down into managable pieces that can be acted upon with more accuracy.

A Kanban board visually breaks up a project into a set of steps we follow to deliver value.  These steps are mapped to columns in the board that anyone can ready.   When you see these steps visually you can quickly see where things are working or not working so well.  If this sounds too simple — that’s the point…you can often find answers when you look at things in a simple way.  A way that the entire team, including management, can understand.

I love using this since it involves the entire team in improving things….giving everyone the chance to step up and make a difference.  As an Agile PM, and leaders of our teams, we can create opportunities for our teammates to shine with these simple pratices that any project can use.

See how “visualization” methods an be used in your Agile projects with some real examples…

  • TASK board
  • FEATURE board
  • PARKING LOT chart
  • BURN chart

See three viewpoints (Time, Task, and Team) so that the whole team understands the current status of the project and can work in an autonomous, motivated and collaborative manner.

Click here for full InfoQ article.


Building a Culture of Collaboration

When two or more are gathered, good ideas turn to great ones. Smart companies are beginning to see that two heads really are better than one.

In the past decade, businesses have entered the age of collaboration on a magnanimous scale. Information exchange has never been easier and while organisations used to compartmentalise their workflow into silos, this type of thinking is giving way to interdepartmental knowledge sharing. This is most visibly expressed in the global rise of collaboration software. Solutions such as Sharepoint® and even social media tools are being used as pivotal methods to exchange cross-team ideas. The McKinsey Global Institute has coined companies that have adopted such web technology tools The Networked Enterprise.

According to the McKinsey Quarterly, “Falling communications costs, globalization, and the increasing specialisation of knowledge-based work have made collaboration within and among organisations more important than ever. As ‘tacit’ interactions replace more routine economic activity and the scale and complexity of many corporations creep upward, the need to manage collaboration is growing.”[1]

In light of this growing complexity, companies are responding to the increasing need to make information available to team members worldwide by putting their money where their mouth is. In December 2011 McKinsey issued the results of a study that said a bigger portion of IT budgets will be dedicated to end-user communications and collaboration, innovation, and analytics capabilities than in the past. Survey respondents reported that approximately 46 percent of their IT budgets would be spent on investments of that nature in 2012 compared with budget allocations of 35 percent in 2011.[2]

 Adjusting budgets to address the rise in knowledge sharing is one thing. Creating a culture that sustains it is another. What can organisations do to build a collaborative culture?

It comes down to engaging the workforce and ensuring their interests are represented. In their new release, Beyond Performance Management, Jeremy Hope and Steve Player propose that knowledge sharing cannot be forced, claiming that “the most successful collaborations between multiple business units within firms occur not when they are mandated by management, but when self-interested managers spot opportunities to collaborate and share resources with one another.”[3] Removing that element of competition by rewarding collaboration is a key factor in developing an environment that supports it.

And it’s not as hard as you might think. According to self-determination theory, led by University of Rochester psychologists Edward Deci and Richard Ryan, human beings around the globe are essentially motivated by three psychological needs: competence, relatedness and autonomy. Leaders can foster a culture of collaboration in which these overlapping needs are met.

Competence refers to the need to demonstrate skill, knowledge and experience. Whether it’s technical or interpersonal, competence is informed by internal motivators to exhibit implicit value.

To do: A leader can encourage workers to hone their skills and demonstrate their abilities within a team setting.

Relatedness drives to the very heart of collaboration. It refers to the need to work with others in a collaborative setting. Studies have shown that the intrinsic need to collaborate overrides external rewards or punishment avoidance.

To do: A leader can recognize the human need to bond with others by offering opportunities to work as a team instead of as an individual contributor.

Autonomy is the desire to shape one’s own work to support the work of others within set parameters. Even with workplace guidelines, workers thrive when they are able to exercise self-regulation and flexibility within established processes and rules.

To do: A leader can encourage independent thinking by listening closely to each person’s contribution. Listening is a leader’s best tool.

A culture of collaboration requires an understanding of what motivates people to continue to work toward business goals. Drawing the best out of workers involves filling their psychological needs, which impacts not only a happier workforce, but better business results too.


[1] Cross, Robert, Roger Martin, and Leigh Weiss. McKinsey Quarterly, Accessed March 12, 2012.

[2] Clancy, Heather. “CarouselConnect.” Last modified December 13, 2011. Accessed March 14, 2012.


[3] J Hope, and S. Player, Beyond Performance Management, (Boston: Harvard Business Review Press, 2012), 81.

Thanks to ESI International for sharing great topics.


Top 10 Project Management Trends for 2012

I found a great TOP 10 article that hits on us Agile PM’s as well as other PM trends foreseen for 2012 on ESI International’s PMO Blog.  I am seeing all of this happen at my F100 clients, some moreso than others.  The “Mixing of Agile with Traditional methods” is very very big in their quest to deliver value  – especially for projects outside the software development area.  Enjoy !

Collaboration Gains Importance as Project Complexity Grows

As the project environment grows in complexity, project management will require team, stakeholder and executive collaboration in 2012 like never before. On-the-job application of training, custom-made project approaches, innovative project tools and smarter resource management will be essential for driving the greatest business impact. Not only project management, but also the definition of “project success” has changed to encompass more than the triple constraint. Collaboration is a common theme throughout many of the 2012 Top 10 Trends for project management, which were determined by a global panel of ESI International senior executives and subject matter experts.

1. Program Management will gain momentum, but resources remain in short supply

Increasingly, large initiatives undertaken by corporations and government agencies are being recognised for what they are and aren’t: namely programmes, not projects, which require a highly advanced set of skills supported by appropriate tools and methods to successfully execute. Yet many organisations struggle to find the right people and lack the management practices necessary to ensure success. In 2012 we will see more investments made in competency models, training, methodology development, tool use, and career pathing to ensure that professionals who carry the title Programme Manager are fit for the role.

2. Collaboration software solutions will become an essential business tool for project teams

Read more


An Exercise in Flow, Value and Teamwork: The Dice Game

Games are a great way to learn…especially as a team.  Here is one simple but powerful exercise that can be used to demonstrate several aspects of flow, value and teamwork: The Dice Game, by Lithespeed.

You can have several teams – each representing a different method of delivery:  Watherfall, Continuous Flow/Kanban, Scrum.   And compare results afterwards.

Key Learning Points:

  • Value is delivered more rapidly in small batches
  • Steady delivery of features mitigates the risk of non-delivery
  • Small batches reduce the impact of customer changes
  • Teamwork is more prevalent when activities are shared and there is frequent interaction
  • New skills can be built over time by frequent interaction between those performing neighboring activities, leading to more polyskilled team members and hence more fruitful collaboration
  • Work in small batches is less complex
  • Optimal release strategies can maximize the flow of value, hence the necessity of the Product Owner role

>> Click here for Full Game Instructions



PMI-ACP Reference Materials: PMI Agile Certified Practitioner BOOKS

PMI has provided a a list of publications that may be helpful when preparing for the PMI-ACP exam. A few of the books are:


 Click here to see the complete list


Agile Open Southern California Conference 2011 (Sep 15-16)

THEME:  People, Principles and Performance

WHEN:  Thursday and Friday, September 15 & 16
WHERE:  University of California, Irvine

What is Agile Open California?

You don’t want to miss this! Imagine an event where experienced Agile practitioners and newcomers alike come together for two days to discuss, examine and otherwise brainstorm the most timely and relevant topics in Agile development today.

Agile Open California is a coalition of agile practitioners and advocates intent on providing an opportunity for learning, networking and growth to the Agile community in California and to others who are interested.

What Will I Get?

  • A 2-day conference pass – up to 24 sessions to choose from each day
  • Continental breakfast and lunch both days
  • A networking reception on Monday evening
  • Free Agile Alliance 1-year Membership – a $100 value! With your registration and attendance, you can receive a free one-year membership in the Agile Alliance, which is a $100 dollar value. Just check the option when you purchase your ticket!

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