Author: Mark Layton

Mark Layton is an industry-recognized expert on project and program management and an active coach on complex Agile implementations. He is the Los Angeles chair for the Agile Project Leadership Network and the founder of Platinum Edge, an organization improvement company that supports businesses looking to strategically improve project ROI. Mr. Layton is also the author of Wiley & Sons Agile Project Management for Dummies and Scrum for Dummies.  

5 Common Agile PM Transition Pitfalls to Avoid

Agile transformations do not take place overnight, which is a stark reality. They require discipline and consistent inspecting, adapting and follow-through. Any well-intended transformation is at risk of slipping back to old ways if certain challenges and pitfalls are not addressed and avoided. Here are five major pitfalls organizations face in their agile transitions: 1. Double Work Agile: Organizations new to agile may expect to continue using traditional reports, artifacts, and meetings in addition to agile activities and artifacts. Teams will burn out quickly if expected to meet the demands of two very different approaches. 2. Ineffective Product Owner: Without alignment between the business and development teams, projects will resemble traditional and waterfall projects as siloed teams try to work together without a clear and common vision. 3. Discipline Slips: Returning to old ways is easy. Agility is not rudderless but demands discipline and dedication to deliver continuous improvement. 4. Diluting Until Dead: When change is difficult, it is common for teams to start diluting proven agile practices in order to accommodate fears and frustrations, until the methods being used no longer resemble agility. 5. Inappropriate Physical Environment: At the heart of agile values and principles are individuals, interactions, face-to-face communication and collaboration. Effectively applying these values and principles requires changes in physical environments. The reality is that sometimes even the simplest of changes get overlooked by teams that try to cut corners. Professional transition support in the form of agile coaching and mentoring can be key in organizations ensuring they avoid these common pitfalls. Related

The 5 Questions to Ask in Assembling Your First Agile PM Team

Assembling your first agile team in a traditional non-agile organization has challenges, and the purpose of this article is to highlight certain questions that can be asked to break through the challenges and ensure you form the best, most qualified team possible. When considering who is the best fit for an agile project, managers may struggle to know what to look for. The pool of candidates usually consists of people with varying agile experiences and opinions. And, the most experienced agile candidates may not even be available. You want experienced team members who can mentor and model agile principles effectively for others. Additionally, you want to make sure less experienced candidates are the right fit for introducing into an agile environment. Here are examples of questions to consider for determining the right fit: 1. Do you have Scrum certification (CSM, CSPO, etc.)? If not, why? 2. How have you dealt with changing requirements during a project? How do you feel about changing requirements? 3. What does it mean to you to be on a cross-functional team? How have you seen that work effectively? 4. What project management tools were used on your project? Do you think they were the right tool to encourage team agility? Why? 5. What examples of effective scrum masters, product owners or team members have you seen? These are examples of questions you can ask that should give insight to help gauge whether candidates’ experiences, attitudes and mindsets will be a good fit for your agile project. You need team members with certain skill sets, but you also need team members with certain attitudes, values and team experiences that align with agile principles. Asking the right questions will help you find the right fit for an agile environment.