In early September I took time out of my client engagements to spend two days interviewing keynote speakers and delegates at New Zealand’s Project Management Conference in Auckland. I wanted to know, “What’s the future for project management?”
As an Agilist talking to a Project Manager (PM), that might sound like a loaded question. But it’s a real one! In the Digital Age we’re moving away from centralised project management and waterfall approaches (using a shared resource model) towards smaller projects owned by self-organising teams using Agile. Where do PMs fit in this emerging scenario?
I had been forewarned not to take too didactic an approach. Three years ago, my colleagues attended the same Conference and their experience was that Agile was not universally understood by the PM community. Too many times they heard that “Scrum doesn’t work” or “Agile only works on software projects”.
Given this previous experience, I was prepared to be received as an outsider with potentially unpopular views. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Instead, I found myself amidst an energised crowd of kindred spirits, passionately singing the benefits of trusting teams, decentralised control and the need to master facilitation skills.
The interviews are particularly revealing and they broadly point to this: The gap between our communities is closing. Project management is evolving into a people-centric craft in delivery that many Agile practitioners would find pleasantly familiar. Processes don’t deliver projects. People do! From Alan Patching to James Brown to Galen Townson, everyone talked less about the importance of management and more about the need for leadership.
Joe Auslander is a Senior Agile Consultant at Assurity Consulting (and part-time interviewer)