education. An agile project manager is a project manager. That means he or she is actively studying project management, which means he or she is studying lean also, looking into work in progress. (I realize many project managers do not actively study project management.) I have high expectations of an agile project manager, and that is to limit WIP, work in progress, to measure cumulative flow. But, Johanna, that’s a lean project manager. Yes, that’s correct. Why not use all of the tools available to us at all times? This is not to help a team actually go faster, but to provide feedback to the team about their WIP. If everyone takes a story at the start of the iteration and everyone always works on their own story, it’s likely the team is at the slowest possible velocity. It’s worth knowing that, or at least retrospecting about the data. A project manager will gather the data. A Scrum Master, especially one who was not a trained project manager, may not know to gather the data.
I have nothing against Scrum Masters. Some of my good friends are CSTs (Certified Scrum Trainers). However, they are not all project managers, and have not been project managers, and have not studied the field of project management. Some have been. And, the real issue is this: In a two or three day workshop, they cannot convey to a person who may or may not have been a practicing project manager all of their project knowledge.
Organizations do not always pick project managers to be Scrum Masters. And, with good reason. Some project managers are command-and-control project managers. I suspect back in my long-ago past, I was. I gave it up long ago because it didn’t work. Some people never gave up command-and-control project management. Those people are not good project managers for agile projects. They are terrible project managers for geographically distributed projects, where you must work through influence.
You can have self-managing teams that are geographically distributed. You can have self-directed teams that are geographically distributed. But, they don’t start that way. They evolve into self-directed and self-managing teams. They start as management-led teams.
And, especially when they are silo’d teams, they need the coordination of a project manager, someone who will manage the risk between the silos, and someone who has the organizational backing, and yes, someone who has the allegiance to the organization to say, “We need to do this project” to write the project charter.
In a geographically distributed team, the agile project manager writes the project charter either with the team, or as a strawman for the people to edit and approve. Shane and I recommend that the people get together to write it together. We like it if people get together in person. We know how rarely that happens. (Penny wise, pound foolish.) So we teach people how to write a project charter when they are divided in space.
Because until there is a project charter, there is no organizing principle for the silo’d teams. Those developers in France, testers in Belarus, product managers and project manager in San Francisco, they all need something to coalesce around. The charter, which includes the project vision provides that. The iterations provide the project heartbeat.
So, that’s why I don’t think Agile Lifecycles for Geographically Distributed Teams, Part 1 is Scrum. It’s close, but no cigar. I respect Ken and Jeff’s work too much to call it Scrum when it’s not.
Now that I’m mostly recovered from my cold, I can continue the series about lifecycles.
(Want to learn to work