A recent article published by TechRepublic and written by Rick Freedman, Adaptive Project Framework: A new level of agile development, caught my eye the other day. As I was reading, I couldn't help but think of Clint Eastwood as Gunnery Sergeant Tom Highway in the movie Heartbreak Ridge.
Without spoiling it for anyone interested in watching an old Clint Eastwood movie (1986), Highway is a hard-nose gunnery sergeant who gets stuck training a bunch of "indulged" Marines who wind up in Granada. Although the movie is predictable (and the language is what you'd expect in a Marine barracks), Gunny Sergeant Highway says something that I think is applicable to Freedman's article. When asked why his squad advanced on an enemy position despite being outnumbered and without support, he says, "We're Marines, sir. We're paid to adapt, to improvise."
According to Freedman, when teaching Agile Project Management classes, the first thing he does is write two words on the board. "The first word is adaptive," he says. "I emphasize with my students that adapting the project approach to the specific effort at hand is a fundamental concept that underlies all agile methods."
I couldn't agree more.
"The second word is hybrid," he continues. "I assure my students that, while some agile proponents are almost religious in their insistence that Project Management Institute (PMI)-style, traditional methodologies have no place in an agile environment, my philosophy is that almost every project, every client, and every organization will require us to incorporate some traditional methods into our agile approach. It's my experience that very few organizations desire, or are prepared for, a complete migration from traditional tools, such as project plans and Gantt charts, to a total agile approach founded around the idea that, if you're running a traditional product development life-cycle and applying PMI standards, everything you know is wrong."
I have to agree with Freedman. Sometimes I think we forget that the entire project management process is about getting work done—not the particular work management methodologies that are used. I like his suggestion that we should consider "hybrid" approaches to the process. There are some things that agile methodologies do very well, but to say that everything in the PMBOK is a bunch of hogwash would be like suggesting that there is no need for a hammer because we now have a nail-gun (or vice-verse). I don't know a carpenter who would make either of those outlandish claims.
If getting work done, or rather getting the right work done, is the ultimate aim of the project management process, using whatever method makes the most sense for the type of work undertaken just makes sense to me. After all, it's people that get work done anyway, the particular approach used is to make it possible for people to be successful, isn't it?
With that said, I think our job as project managers is to adapt and improvise depending upon the particular work challenges we're faced with. Some projects might require sophisticated online project management software while another might require a simple task list—or PPM software that incorporates traditional waterfall or agile methodologies.
If you haven't read Freedman's article I suggest you give it a look. He also introduces a new book written by Robert Wysocki that looks interesting, Adaptive Project Framework. It's a book I've put on my summer reading list.
How do you incorporate different project management methodologies into your work management strategy?