New Focus for Project Managers


The next phase in team development is when the team moves from norming, where they have all learned how to work together to achieve a common goal, to performing, where the team members are a cohesive unit that need little supervision in reaching consensus and taking action. They have a solid record of delivering value to customers and have become more proactive than reactive. The agile project manager's focus is now almost entirely on negotiating solutions to organizational issues. You can see how the chart in figure 1 illustrates this shift from team-facing mediation activities to management-facing negotiation strategies as the team reaches the top of the curve—the performing stage—in the Tuckman model.

Traditional project managers should approach their transition by learning how to apply agile practices tactically at the team level, as well as understanding how to embrace agile and systems thinking strategically as an agent of organizational change. From focusing on the team during their forming, storming, and norming phases to focusing on the organizational changes needed to support a high-performing team, the agile project manager's key strength will be her versatility and understanding of the nature of situational leadership. Like the process she is supporting, the project manager, too, will have to be agile.

About the author

Michele Sliger's picture Michele Sliger

Michele Sliger has extensive experience in agile software development, having worked in both XP and Scrum teams before becoming a consultant. As a self-described "bridge builder," her passion lies in helping those in traditional software development environments cross the bridge to agility. Along with co-author Stacia Broderick, their book The Software Project Manager's Bridge to Agility focuses on the topic, helping PMI-trained project managers make the transition. Michele is a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST) and a certified Project Management Professional (PMP). If you have a question, or would like help with your agile adoption, Michele can be reached at

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