By Sanjiv Augustine
In my ongoing quest to read about project management and its permutations, I picked up Augustine's Managing Agile Projects. This book is focused on software development projects, as much of the agile literature is, but provides principles that could be more broadly abstracted. Like other books along these lines, this one takes pains to separate its brand of project management from more traditional, PMBOK-based project management.
The author draws heavily from agile programming and its variants (eXtreme Programming, Scrum, FD). But he also draws from a broad set of other concepts and frameworks, and the result is sometimes a grab bag of theories and concepts: complexity theory, memes (as cultural DNA), game theory, mental models, and communities of practice all make a showing without much to tie them together. But this book really isn't a theory book -- it's more about a set of organizing principles put forth as a compact or a constitution for governing team interactions. Augustine introduces this notion from the beginning with a clarifying "fable" based on an actual shift from traditional to agile project management (Ch.1).
Essentially, agile project management as it is described here consists of the following principles:
- foster alignment and cooperation
- encourage emergence and self-organization
- institute learning and adaptation (p.25).
- organic teams (small, flexible, composed of generalizing specialists)
- guiding vision (keeping the team aligned with the same "mental model" or "commander's intent")
- simple rules (generative process rules that can result in emergent organized behavior)
- open information (vs. information kept in silos)
- light touch (fostering emergent control rather than heavy-handed rules)
- adaptive leadership (continuously monitoring, learning, and adapting) (pp.26-29)
- courage (pp.38-39)