How to Help a Large Project

I have seen a recurring pattern in large organizations – there are large-scale projects that span many separate functional groups, departments and geographic locations. These projects often perform poorly and are difficult to manage effectively. In most cases, Agile is not the most valuable approach to get these projects on track.

At Agile Coach Camp I convened a session to explore this problem and identify some compensations to improve the situation. Many thanks to all the contributors – this is a group work product.

The Problem

Some of the common problems notes by participants were:

  • Groups working in silos with missing, slow or broken feedback loops – lot’s of little disconnected pieces
  • Incompatible vocabulary between technology and business
  • The environments register high for “complexity of self”
  • Staff in overload and multi-tasking
  • Low visibility, awareness, priority

Please refer to the poster notes for full details.

Compensations

I use the word compensation, to indicate an action that can be taken to mitigate the problem. As there are systemic and widespread challenges in these environments, we did not discuss solutions.

Here are some of the key compensations:

  • Draw a project map – who is where, what skills, what % on the project, what component
  • Recognize and articulate feedback loops and flow of value
  • Create a war-room with kanban boards for all groups
  • Measure working software AKA running tested features and “definition of done”
  • Conduct a project chartering session including clarification of business value
  • Find someone to play the role of project lead (e.g. Toyota Chief Engineer)
  • Make sure everyone has tooling for distributed communication

Contributors

  • Paul Boos
  • Dante Vilardi
  • Pascal Pinck

Ooops. I can remember who was there. Please remind me by sending me an email so I can add your name here.

Michael K Sahota guides and teaches leaders how to create high-performance organizations. He is the creator of a proven system for leading change through a practical playbook. His model for Consciously Approaching Agile guides the creation of a cultural and leadership context where Agile creates lasting organizational results. Michael has taught over 1000 leaders worldwide through his highly acclaimed “Agile” Culture & Leadership Training.

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