I’m a huge fan of the plan-do-check-act (PDCA) cycle. It was originally intended for process improvement within manufacturing but I now see it everywhere. But, being an Agile kind of guy I wish Deming had put “Reflect” and “Improve” into the name.
I’ve been using Kanban for a few years, quite a few years. I like it and mention it often in this blog, so I thought I would outline some of the basics for the benefit of those who haven’t dipped their toe in the Lean waters. Of course I’ll comment on what I like/dislike about it as I go along.
Agile people have a propensity to seek improvements, are more willing to consider information that is at odds with preconceived notions, and are more willing to be different and take risks – at least according to David Alberts.
When Kanban folk talk to Scrum people the conversation can often get heated with recriminations and finger pointing. Personally I’ve got a pragmatic, or eclectic, style of Lean-Agile. None of the published methods are the silver bullet. But they all have something useful to offer.
I had just joined a team as programme manager and was talking to the lead user experience (UX) designer about the latest version of the UX design. We’d not worked together before and this was the first time I’d seen the designs. They looked pretty good to me and I told her so. That is when it got a bit weird.
PgM: They look great.
UX: Okay, I’ll get everybody together to get sign off on the designs.
PgM: Um, who is everybody?
UX: <Lists names of the business representative, product manager, technical architect, business sponsor, technical sponsor, UX discipline lead for the department, development manager, portfolio manager, team assistant to take notes, and quality manager>. I hope they don’t want too many changes.
PgM: <Jaw drops>
Managing Successful Programmes (MSP) is about programmes but it does have something to say about how to run the subordinate projects. And projects in MSP are not meant to be agile in any way. Although agility is encouraged for MSP programmes agility in the projects is viewed as a “disaster”. Given the people who use MSP are most likely to be using PRINCE2 this belief is perhaps not surprising. But it is not a belief I hold to.
Given Managing Successful Programmes (MSP) is for programme management what PRINCE2 is for project management, you’d expect to find a rather rigid process at the heart. So I was surprised to find, when re-reading the 2011 edition recently, active encouragement for agility. Admittedly this is agility in the wider sense rather than specific practices from the Lean-Agile movement but any agility looks good to me.
This post is not about how to make MSP more Agile – although I’ll make a few suggestions – but is merely a commentary on how Agile MSP is coming out of the box.
The way I see it Agile Programme Management weaves together three threads: Transformation, Alignment and Adaptation. These threads are present in traditional approaches to programme management however an Agile approach subtlety changes each and increases the focus on Adaptation.