Showing posts from March, 2022

The Exceeding Banality of Burning Projects

Listening to a podcast recently I heard a project manager say of himself that he is often given the project that are "already on fire." I cringed, because I have made that comment myself quite a few times. Too often it was in interviews that I made the boast. It's not really that remarkable for a project manager to be handed a project on fire and asked to make something of it.  There are many reasons for a project to be "going south," and it's going to show time, cost, scope, and possibly, ultimately, quality. One such project for me was a cloud migration. A major data center was being shut down and all the services hosted there had to be migrated to the cloud. When I got involved it was already badly behind schedule, and extra cost had been incurred in renewing the lease on a data center's space while also paying for cloud services. What had happened was a project manager had laid out a very solid plan for doing the migration in waves. It was going to i

When Success With Agile Looks Like Failure

The tone on the call was dour and gloomy. The international team I was leading through an Agile transformation had completed its third sprint, and all three were 'bad' in terms of work completed. A senior VP was on the line with me, the co-product owners, a couple of teams leads, and one or two others from the business. We meticulously talked through the various reasons why things hadn't gone to plan, referring often to the retrospective notes that I'd compiled at the end of each sprint with the team. Chief among our problems were story point estimates that were too optimistic, 'emergency' work that came in, and extra work finding its way in without being accounted for. As I've indicated, people weren't happy. And then, it occurred to me that the group wasn't seeing the bigger picture. "Let me ask something," I said, "would these issues have come up if we hadn't changed anything?" Long pause. I asked again: "If we had not