Are Lean-Agile Leaders and Scrum Masters Adequately Developed to Lead?

Lean-Agile Leaders, Agile Coaches, Product Managers, Project Managers, PMO

Execution Leadership

Many project managers have learned about Agile. Agile started because of the high failure rate (80%) of projects and the fact that the final deliverables from these projects were not completely aligned to the initial customer requirements. The Agile manifesto was originally created for IT software teams, but its core tenets are equally relevant to non-IT teams. Agile is not a methodology, framework or process. Agile is a mindset based on a set of values aimed at harnessing the collective intelligence of teams:

  • Adaptive plans replace rigid 12 month plans;
  • Customer collaboration is valued greater than internal egos;
  • Employee autonomy is promoted over command-control leadership style;
  • Individual interaction stands above process and technological tools.

Within Agile, Scrum is the leading development methodology, used by many Fortune 500 companies around the world. The Scrum team framework uses three main components: a product owner, the project facilitator or Scrum Master and the Development Team.

The product owner brings together the customer(s), the company and the development team. The product owner creates a prioritized wish list. The owner is empowered to make binding end-product decisions during development and works with a project leadership team daily to ensure priorities are clear.

The project facilitator’s primary duty is to support the development team by clearing organizational bottlenecks and ensure the product owner’s needs are being met through Agile process implementation. The facilitator ensures the project’s goals and timeline are visible to everyone on the team so everyone is working within the same context. While the facilitator tracks problems and issues, their main value is to ensure clear communication through artfully facilitated scheduled meetings as well as in the continual cross-team and face-to-face interactions. Facilitators are like a team’s coach.

There are six Agile principles:
1. Customer satisfaction is the highest priority for everyone one within the organization and we must ensure that our interactions with the customer deliver value to the customer.
2. We must welcome and embrace changes in customer requirements.
3. Different teams within the organization must work together collaboratively.
4. We must create a supportive environment for employees and empower them with everything they need to complete their tasks effectively.
5. Face-to-face communication is the most effective way of communication between individuals and departments.
6. At regular intervals, individuals and teams must evaluate their performance in order to make improvements when necessary.

For organizations critically needing greater employee engagement, Agile provides teams with a way of engaging because it encourages collaboration, open communication and collective decision making across teams.

When you look at the 12 principles of agile, you see the words ‘accept fluctuation’, ‘collaborate’, ‘motivate workers’, ‘environment’, ‘trust’, ‘support’, ‘face-to-face communication’, ‘marathon not a sprint’, ‘special attention’, ‘increase efficiency’, ‘keep things simple’, ‘teams are empowered to make decisions’ and ‘team self-reflection’. For an agile coach or project manager, all of these words or phrases point to critical skills around execution leadership.

Yet, in an audit of the training programs and books on the topic of Agile and Scrum we found no evidence of development, tools and general guidance around execution leadership. It’s as if someone came up with a fantastic house design but didn’t see the need for a foundation or fasteners (nails, hinges, etc.). Execution leadership is a combination of clarity of role, skill and tools. Execution Leadership for Project Managers is a development program that turns a project manager into a master in execution leadership.

What is your biggest challenge related to execution leadership?

Fun Facts and Truths for Project Managers #26

According to ACS Distance Education, nearly 70% of organizations implementing PMO practices report that project success rates have improved significantly as a result. 90% of global senior executives and project management experts say good project management is key to delivering successful results and gaining a competitive edge. More than 16 million people regard project management as their profession.self-role-organizational-influence-diagram

The development program, Execution Leadership for Project Managers (ELPM) focuses in on three areas: self-awareness, role awareness and organizational influence. ELPM is for anyone in a complex environment whose primarily role is project management. This program is best for project managers with at least 5 years work experience and is ideal as a development program for high-potential project managers in larger organizations. The Nielson Group offers this program as an in-house option at your location anywhere in the world. In-house program offerings can be customized to meet your needs.

Fun Facts and Truths for Project Managers #25

cropped-deap-tng-logo.jpgAccording to Bright Hub PM, projects have 5 phases.

Initiation – includes an overview of the project in addition to the strategy you plan on using in order to achieve the desired results.

Planning – includes a detailed breakdown and assignment of each task of your project from beginning to end.

Execution/Control – the planned solution is implemented to solve the problem specified in the project’s requirements.

Closure – a written formal project review report which contains the following elements:

  • A formal acceptance of the final product (by the client)
  • Weighted Critical Measurements (a match between the initial requirements laid out by the client against the final delivered product)
  • Lessons learned
  • Project resources
  • A formal project closure notification to higher management.

See anything missing?

Execution Leadership for Project Managers


Fun Facts and Truths for Project Managers #24

Wrike, developers of a highly flexible project management tool, uses a meme to bust myths about project management. They share the following stats:

Myth 1 – Remote collaboration is unproductive.
In fact, remote work makes happy employees and increases performance by 13%.

Myth 2 – Project management certification is a must.
In fact, even at IBM, only 56% of project management specialists hold a certificate.

Myth 3 – Project management is pure paperwork.
In fact, a project manager spends 90% of their time communicating.

Myth 4 – Frequent meetings are necessary to keep everyone in the loop.
In fact, 47% of workers called meetings the #1 time-waster at the office.

Myth 5 – Project failures are fatal.
In fact, if failures are discovered in a timely manner and within the right culture, they may be the link to future successes.

Execution leadership certainly benefits from great work management software tools. But execution leadership without leadership skills (another type of toolset) makes it tough going for everyone.

Fun Facts and Truths for Project Managers #23

3D man near red question markThe Australian-based consulting and training company, Goal Group, highlights the top ten factors contributing to project success:

  • Clear goals/objectives
  • Support from senior management
  • Adequate funds/resources
  • Realistic schedule
  • End user commitment
  • Effective leadership/conflict resolution
  • Flexible approach to change
  • Clear communication channels
  • Taking account of past experience
  • Effective management of risk

In the Execution Leadership for Project Managers 3-month development program,  ALL of the above are outcomes that we expect the project manager, team members and the company to fully experience. How would your life be different if all of the above bullet points were part of the culture?