Scrum Product Owner: Scrum’s Uber-Pig

I couldn’t help it, I had to draw a parallel between Scrum and Animal Farm. The Final Commandment given by the pigs in the Animal Farm is “All animals are equal, but some animals [the pigs] are more equal than others“. And in Scrum the Uber-Pig is the Product Owner.
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Example of Day to Day Governance on an Agile Programme

You’d think I couldn’t win. Senior corporate managers are nervous that I am doing unconventional agile stuff, without those reassuring Gantt charts or status reports and hardly any formal minutes. Agilists are horrified that I advocate Agile Governance.

This conflict isn’t impossible it is just one of many places where I can demonstrate that Agile practices aid traditional processes/goals. In this case programme/project governance. I start from the position that governance is not contrary to Agile, it is built in. Rather than less governance my Agile programme actually has more governance than is the norm and is is safer as a consequence. Given this position is fairly controversial I thought I’d explain how I go about governance at the moment. I’ll give you a clue – there is a lot of talking.
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RAG status – Red is a call for help

A RAG status uses the colour of traffic lights (Red, Amber, Green) to signal project status. This is a pretty standard tool in the project manager’s tool kit but some folk don’t think RAG is helpful in an Agile context. Personally I use RAG status for risks and issues and have redefined what they mean. In my scheme Red becomes a call for help.
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Another kicking from stakeholders? Not when dispassionate and positive

“Well, we just got another kicking”. A group of us, representing technology, had just attended the regular programme board meeting with the business types. In the debrief afterwards the technology folk around me were despondent. In fact they were despondent every month after this meeting. They genuinely felt kicked. But I didn’t. I never did. It was almost like I experienced a completely different meeting to that experienced by my colleagues.
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