Thursday, July 3, 2014

The "Project Manager" Game

Project managers are important contributors in Waterfall projects and there is an incredible weight on their shoulders. Good project managers will go a great length to make their projects successful.

Then again, in Agile we don't have Project Managers. And we don't miss them. No offense.

So, how can we be successful in Agile without a Project Manager?
Truth is - everything that is needed still somehow gets done.

I learned the "Project Manager" game from Jeff Sutherland's CSM course.
It's a fun pastime and takes only about 15 minutes. You may even throw this into a retrospective to lighten up the mood and dig for some insights!

Here's the rules:

Round 1: Everyone on the team brainstorms responsibilities of a Project Manager(5 Minutes)
Do not add things which a Project Manager should probably be doing but doesn't do.
This is not a test of whether the team qualifies for PMI certification.

Round 2: Assign to each responsibility at least one of the labels (5 Minutes)
    1.  "Team Member" (T)
    2. "Product Owner" (P)
    3. "Scrum Master" (S)
    4. If you think that the activity is not needed in Agile, label it: "Waste" (W) 

There is no "right" or "wrong" in this game. It's about the team's perception!

This is an example of what the result may look like:

Here are some things you should look out for in the results:

  •  "Every responsibility goes to the PO / SM": you have a vested Project Manager and are probably missing serious collaboration benefits.
  • Process relevant topics solely within the SM domain: your Continous Improvement project may be impedited.
  • The team can quote the PMBOK by heart and can't find a single activity that is "Waste": there are probably severe organizational impediments towards agility in the organization
  • Planning related topics (scope, budget, objectives, timelines) aren't even on the agenda: Dig deeper to find out how the team conducts planning in the agile implementation!
  • There is an excessive focus on non-value adding activity such as listing myriads of different reports, and these are all assigned to the Scrum Master: Maybe the team's level of self-organization should be increased?

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