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How does the „agility“ trend affect project management?

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A whitepaper by Tiba Managementberatung GmbH
How does the „agility“ trend
affect project management?
Author: Alexander Koschke, Tiba Managementberatung GmbH
Project (in Latin, proiectum, neuter form of proiectus: thrown
forwards) primarily means projecting into the future, predicting
and planning for the future; and management (in Latin, manus
agere: to lead by the hand) literally means to take by the hand.
That means the project manager takes those involved by the
hand and leads them through the projected plan. This creates
security for the project participants as well as for the management.
Agile (in Latin, agilis: nimble) on the other hand means
to move in a nimble and fl exible way in a complex environment
and to keep adapting. „Inspect and adapt“ and self-guidance are
the new buzz phrases. How is that compatible with planning and
taking by the hand? Is agile project management not a contradiction
in terms? Or is bringing „agility“ (whatever that means)
into project management the next logical step, and perhaps
even „essential to survival“, to make project management viable
in times of extreme complexity and Industry 4.0? In this white
paper we want to take a closer look at what actually lies behind
the hype of „agilisation“ and how we can use it to transform
project management.

More information: www.pmtage.de
Agile project management –
more here
PM-TAGE 2018
Wednesday, March the 14th, 2018
Thursday, March the 15th, 2018

Veröffentlicht in: Business
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How does the „agility“ trend affect project management?

  1. 1. A whitepaper by Tiba Managementberatung GmbH How does the „agility“ trend affect project management?
  2. 2. 1 Author: Alexander Koschke, Tiba Managementberatung GmbH Project (in Latin, proiectum, neuter form of proiectus: thrown forwards) primarily means projecting into the future, predicting and planning for the future; and management (in Latin, manus agere: to lead by the hand) literally means to take by the hand. That means the project manager takes those involved by the hand and leads them through the projected plan. This creates security for the project participants as well as for the manage- ment. Agile (in Latin, agilis: nimble) on the other hand means to move in a nimble and flexible way in a complex environment and to keep adapting. „Inspect and adapt“ and self-guidance are the new buzz phrases. How is that compatible with planning and taking by the hand? Is agile project management not a contra- diction in terms? Or is bringing „agility“ (whatever that means) into project management the next logical step, and perhaps even „essential to survival“, to make project management viab- le in times of extreme complexity and Industry 4.0? In this white paper we want to take a closer look at what actually lies behind the hype of „agilisation“ and how we can use it to transform project management. Agile project management – a contradiction in terms or the next logical step?
  3. 3. 2 3 Everyone is talking about being „agile“, organisations want to be „agile“, managers are challenging their employees to „get agile“ if other approaches aren‘t working, and human resources developers are searching everywhere for people with an „agi- le“ mindset... But what exactly do people mean by wanting to become „more agile“? The word „agile“ was primarily coined in software development through the „Agile Manifesto“ (2001). Software developers worked out that in their development they wanted focus more on people and to encourage collaboration within the team („We value individuals and interactions over processes and tools“) 1, wanted less bureaucracy and thus fas- ter results („We value funktional software over comprehensive documentation“) 2 and liked to work more closely and trustingly with the customer („We value customer collaboration over con- tract negotiation“). 3 At the same time, continuous change was perfectly natural to them („We value responding to change over following a plan“). 4 Since the agile manifesto, the word „agile“ and the associated mindset has spread quickly and has simply become a synonym for fast, non-bureaucratic and self-organi- sed „whatever“. What has happened under the name „agile“ in software development is a counter-movement to an approach that has become too rigid and bureaucratic, usually known as „classic“. There have also been similar movements in other sectors, e.g. among Japanese car manufacturers in the 1980s. Here the pro- duction was to be oriented towards the customer in a more lean and consistent way, achieving shorter lead times and greater flexibility. We are experiencing a similar trend in Design Thin- king: the benefit to the customer consistently takes priority and iterative solutions are developed in small creative teams. Two major trends are currently engaging companies more than ever before: automation and humanisation: On the one hand, the aim is to produce as many products and services as possible with the minimum possible human input - in other words „auto- matically“ - by means of standardised processes, IT-based work- flows, automated production and scaling. On the other hand, the aim is also to make working life „more humane“, in other words make better use of human creativity and improve understan- ding of customer and employee needs. You just want to create things that generate real added value and surprise and enthuse customer and employees, in order to develop a good, lasting re- lationship between you and them. On the one hand, humans are becoming superfluous and more and more „redundant“ and on the other hand increasingly important and indispensable. Is this trend killing our livelihood and will there no longer be enough work for everyone in future, or are we freeing ourselves from decades of inhumane working conditions and elevating oursel- ves to our true purpose? Both can feel very right, depending on the perspective you take. Opportunity and risk are therefo- re very closely linked, similar to the time of the first industri- al revolution. Whether you now call the whole thing „agile“ or „lean“ or whatever, it is primarily about realigning the economy more towards humans, focusing on customers and employees to optimise value creation in times of complex environments and ever-changing circumstances. What do all these „agile“ approaches have in common? What principles lie behind them? Below we consider seven principles, which may be worth using as guidance if there is a desire or an urge or even a need to be „more agile“, regardless of which method you ultimately decide on. Background Seven principles for the „agilisation“ of project management 1. Voluntary action Small, self-organised teams in which various individuals work together creatively are the linchpin of value added in the com- pany. Self-organisation works best when the individuals in the team voluntarily contribute their respective personal strengths, i.e. when they have so much „passion“ (willingness to suffer) that they work even without pressure or control. Only then can hierarchical management be largely dispensed with. For this reason, voluntary action is a fundamental principle for being able to work in an agile way. This not only requires experts from various specialist fields, but also so-called „bridging people“, who are at home in two or more different disciplines and can th- erefore bridge the gaps between the experts. Generally people intuitively group themselves with like-minded people, so these kinds of „bridging people“ are particularly important in times of Industry 4.0, in which interdisciplinary teams made up of repre- sentatives from Marketing, Development, IT, Production, Sales etc. have to work together more closely than ever. This is the only way to create in-depth and networked knowledge at the same time. This principle is primarily aimed at the HR depart- ment in companies, which can promote the development of ex- perts and „bridging people“ through appropriate career models and measures such as job rotation etc. 1 Beck (2001). 2Beck (2001). 3 Beck (2001). 4Beck (2001).
  4. 4. 4 5 2. Protected environment To be able to work voluntarily and creatively, free space and free time must be provided accordingly by (top) management, in which the team can work in an agile way while protected from day-to- day business and other expectations. This way the new mindset can be created and with it a culture of trust, which is essential for a real team. For the management this means letting go of the usual efficiency mindset to a certain extent and risking time and money, without knowing what the end result will be. Like in a flo- werbed where small plants can grow protected, in this safe en- vironment a new culture can grow. „Risky is the new safe“ 5 is the motto. Where previously managers have shied away from taking risks to avoid jeopardising the familiar sense of security, these days it is almost negligent not to take any risks, as a new culture, new ideas, new business models and hence a (new) future cannot be planned, they have to be trialled and experienced. Anything that doesn‘t work is abandoned, everything that proves success- ful is developed further, a bit like natural selection and evolution. To ensure such „risky“ experiments do not jeopardise the whole company or the core business, they should also be carried out in a protected environment and only gradually rolled out to the rest of the company after a test phase. So a certain amount of „passion“ (willingness to suffer) is also required on the part of the company, whereby the (top) management invests money - which could be paid out in the short term as bonuses, for example - in building a new culture to ensure long-term survival. 3. Real Team An interdisciplinary team is made up of diverse experts and so-called „bridging people“. What „diverse“ means depends on each task. The more creative, unconventional and complex the task is, the more diverse the team members should be. Many companies have now come to recognise this and are increa- singly creating cross-hierarchical, interdisciplinary and interna- tional teams, and peppering them with lateral thinkers, artists and employees from completely different specialisms. Of cour- se, this results in greatly increased demands on team develop- ment. Forming a real team from the different participants, one that adopts Collective Ownership, takes time and requires a con- siderable degree of openness and also courage from those in- volved. This is rewarded with many new perspectives and usual- ly a major leap in personal development for those involved, and creative new products or services for the company. In addition, the team should also be allowed to work truly creatively. Visual and tactile elements in a dedicated space, where the team also physically sits together, are just as important as free, unplanned time for „experimenting“ and networking. Anyone who has pre- viously only worked in „pseudo project teams“, which are litt- le more than a group of work package managers who only see each other at regular meetings or occasionally at a joint dinner, may be amazed by what it means to be part of a real team. Th- rough ongoing reflection, the team continues to develop along the entire project duration. 5 Gage (2012). 4. Supportive management The middle management also plays a somewhat different role in the complex environment than most have previously been used to. There is little room for self-publicists, world saviours or superheroes. Instead people are needed here who watch the team with a smile and help it to organise itself in order to mas- ter ITS task. It is not servant leadership, as the management should neither be a servant (receiving orders from the team) nor a leader (primarily the team is guided by customer needs), but act in partnership with the team as equals. The management has its own active and responsible task: specifically to facilitate the self-organisation of the team and provide the best possible support for it to be successful. This requires a mature personality and skills that have generally not been the focus of previous management seminars. It will probably be as hard for the managers to embrace this role as it will be for the team to organise itself, as both are mutually dependent. The beauty of it is that both will grow considerably in this endeavour, and it actively counteracts a culture of nag- ging as well as individual ego trips. As a consequence, uneven distribution of work in the company is reduced and thus the gulf between under-challenging and over-burdening. The new key tasks of the manager will be to act as moderator or facilitator, to consistently protect the team from external influences and to create the conditions required for creativity and trust. 5. Iterate to Wow „Iterate to wow“ is possibly the principle which is most diffi- cult to understand for people who have not worked in an agile environment or with Design Thinking before. The assumption is that in complex environments and when we want to create products and services that impress (and thereby surprise) the customer, the requirements cannot be clearly defined or the customers themselves do not know what they want or need. It does not help to spend even more time clarifying the task; it is better to simply get started and create a prototype that can be experienced. This prototype and the customer‘s associated experiences can be used to gradually, iteratively get closer to the desired solution. We make as many iterations as it takes to not only satisfy the customer, but to really enthuse them (Wow effect). The iterative approach is also not as sensitive to the ch- anges that occur in complex environments that easily under- mine long-term planning. The better we know the customer or the better our assumptions about the complex system are, the fewer iterations we will need and the faster we can achieve re- sults. So we need somebody in the team who acts as the interfa- ce with the customer or the user groups. Traditionally this would be marketing and sales or project sponsor. In Scrum he is called the Product Owner; most importantly, he is empathetic towards users and their history and is able to recognise the needs behind the wishes, thereby composing requirements or assumptions for the team. 6. Customer benefit This is about providing the customer with a true benefit. Our goal is of course long-term customer retention and these days this is no longer so easy in an affluent society. Many customers can order anything they want at the touch of a button or purcha- se it from the competition. To have someone who knows you better than you know yourself and can surprise you with pro- ducts or services you didn‘t even know that you needed before creates trust and, as a consequence, loyalty. So it is less about the perfect product and more about finding the perfect match between the product or service and the indi- vidual needs. And ascertaining needs is not trivial. To do this we need a lot of data about our customer (Big Data), or a lot of time to understand their history and to look beneath the superficially formulated wishes. So the customer is also no longer the king, who simply formulates his requirements and is then served, but he is an equal partner, whose needs the team attempts to satisfy using its abilities. The better the communication and the more trusting the collaboration, the better the match. 7. Mutual tuning Often „agile“ work starts in a protected environment, shielded from the rest of the organisation. However, only a few projects can be fully implemented when isolated from the rest. It is al- most always necessary to coordinate with other teams or col- laborate with the rest of the organisation and the specialist de- partments. In doing so, different cultures often collide. However, overcoming these „cultural differences“ without converting the „dissenters“ requires „bridging people“ and space for real en- counters. Regular consultation and mutual tuning between indi- viduals, teams and throughout the company is necessary; both should start at an early stage and be more intensive the more varied the cultures are. This requires honesty, interest, consideration and humility from both parties. This area of conflict can perhaps be compared with the often tense relationship between Engineering and Purcha- sing in the classic environment, which can also be improved by good, early consultation and a collaborative, iterative approach.
  5. 5. 6 7 HR - In many companies, as well as the traditional specialist careers, it is also important to encourage the training of „bridging peo- ple“ – e.g. by means of increased use of job rotation. - In order to be independent of individuals as a company and to make everyone replaceable at any time, many of our current practices in the company specifically promote egalitarianism and prevent individuality. In an agile environment however, in- dividuality is increasingly important; not only to have as many different perspectives as possible, in order to develop creati- ve solutions, but also to promote a culture of trust. Real trust only develops if these people are not worriewd that they will be replaced. - Promote new approaches to learning, based on self-responsi- bility, train to learn, and increase the reflective faculties of em- ployees - Promote individual strengths and personal development Top Management - Permit experiments, allow committed employees to surprise you - Learn to let go, without having to be in control - Gradually build up trust and then give increasing amounts of freedom - Enable flexible working hours and working from home, in order to develop self-responsibility of employees Middle management - Learn moderation, mediation and facilitation - Learn to create protected environments - Allow the team to present team results itself - Learn to delegate tasks with the appropriate responsibility - Engage in personal development Employees - Take responsibility - Recognise and consistently develop your strengths, go your own way, do not do what everyone is doing - Have the courage to show your vulnerabilities and express your needs - Learn to take risks and step out of your comfort zone, learn to think in an entrepreneurial way in the interests of the company - Show an interest in other perspectives, where appropriate engage in job rotation - Network within the company across departments - Engage in personal development Sales - Spend more „quality time“ with customers, learn to listen to them and read between the lines - Develop emotional intelligence and empathy in order to iden- tify needs - Learn Story Mapping instead of recording requirements Implementation Contract clarification - Use of Story Mapping, prototyping or Design Thinking in the contract clarification, to reveal hidden needs - Closer contact with the end user (if necessary via the PO) Management of risks - No bureaucratic filling in of tools and lists, rather identification of risks in discussions, taking into account gut feelings and intuition - Careful trialling and gradual exploration of the risky areas, in order to learn about them and not suppress them Planning - No long, detailed planning period, instead greater transparency about the activities over the coming weeks; just a rough plan of milestones for any long-running projects - Iterative approach in the team rather than central planning - Plan early experiments to gain insights Interdisciplinary approach - Development and use of „bridging people“, in order to enable con- structive teamwork - Increased use of non-specialists or people from complemen- tary disciplines, in order to find new approaches Dealing with changes - Regular involvement of customers with continuous feedback and an iterative approach enables changes to be recognised at an early stage and planned for - This prevents complex change management Lessons Learned - As well as receiving feedback on the product or result, the team also regularly records improvements in the team process - As a result the team consolidates to form a real team more quickly Specific aspects in project management that can be made more agile by actively applying the principles Every individual in a company can contribute to bringing the 7 principles to life at all times.
  6. 6. 8 For most companies, the application of the above principles and the associated self-organisation of the teams and supportive management is linked with a big change in mindset and there- fore cannot happen overnight. So making the PM agile should take place with a special process model, which enables every organisation to define the appropriate degree of agility for them and gradually implement the change, without asking too much of the organisation in the process. Entirely according to the principles, this should also be an ite- rative process, different PM approaches should be individually combined and customer feedback should be continuously taken into account. Of course all of this takes place in a protected en- vironment, in order to sufficiently test the new culture and the agile process, before rolling it out on a large scale. One thing we should never forget: It is not about classic or agile, instead it is about enhancing the existing project management with enough „agility“ to meet current and future requirements, no more and no less. The methods that are ultimately applied, be it Design Thinking, Scrum, Lean, Kanban or something else, should be left open for now, because a specific approach usually develops du- ring the introduction phase which suits the company better than each method alone. Outlook Literature suggestions for further reading Beck, K. u. a., 2001. Manifest für Agile Softwareentwicklung. Available at: http://agilemanifesto.org/iso/de/manifesto.html. Gage, R., 2012. Risky is the New Safe: The Rules Have Changed… Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. Gloger, B. & Rösner, D., 2014. Selbstorganisation braucht Führung. München: Carl Hanser Verlag. Grant, A., 2016. Agiles Management: Radikal anders. Harvard Business Manager, 05/2016. Laloux, F., 2014. Reinventing Organizations. Brüssel: Nelson Parker. Mahmoud-Jouini, S. Ben, Midler, C. & Silberzahn, P., 2016. Contributions of Design Thinking to Project Management in an Innovation Context, 47(2). Patton, J., 2014. User Story Mapping: Discover the Whole Story, Build the Right Product. Sebastopol, Kalifornien: O‘Reilly Media. Pfläging, N. & Hermann, S., 2016. Komplexithoden, München: Redline Verlag. Porter, M. & Heppelmann J., 2015. How Smart, Connected Products Are Transforming Companies. Harvard Business Review, 10/2015. Rigby, D.K., Sutherland, J. & Takeuchi, H., 2016. Unternehmensführung I: schnell und flexibel. Harvard Business Manager, 10/2016. Rozovsky, J., 2015. The five keys to a successful Google team. re:Work. Available at: https://rework.withgoogle.com/blog/five-keys- to-a-successful-google-team. Schwaber, K. & Sutherland, J, 2013. Software in 30 Tagen: Wie Manager mit Scrum Wettbewerbsvorteile für ihr Unternehmen schaffen. Heidelberg: dpunkt.verlag GmbH. VersionOne, 2016. 10th Annual State of Agile Survey. Available at: http://www.agile247.pl/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/VersionO- ne-10th-Annual-State-of-Agile-Report.pdf. © Tiba Managementberatung GmbH
  7. 7. of Project Management THE EXCLUSIVE PLATFORM FOR TOP LEADERS The annual decision maker‘s forum for project, process and change management • At the “PM-Tage”, the annual project management get-together, top-leaders and decision-makers discuss on the latest topics and trends of project management. • WELL-KNOWN COMPANIES AND A VARIETY OF INDUSTRIES Decision makers talk to decision makers • LATEST VISIONS AND TRENDS Of Project Management, Process Management and Change Management • SUCCESSFUL MODELS AND INNOVATIVE THINKERS In inspiring Keynotes, Best Practices and Workshops • MAINTAIN YOUR CERTIFCATION Acquire PDUs for your PMI® re-certification www.pmtage.de¬ *„PMI“isaregisteredmarkofProjectManagementInstitute,Inc. Find out more here PM-TAGE 2018 in MUNICH Wednesday, March the 14th , 2018 Thursday, March the 15th , 2018 MEET THE BEST IN PM