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Social Project Management (Agile in Disguise)

09-Jul-2014 14:00:00 Project management Consulting Agile
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I just couldn't ignore a recent article in the summer edition of IT Now entitled ‘How many Project Managers does it take to send a Tweet?’

The quotes below are taken directly from the article.

"Project Management has to change".


I agree! Traditionally a project manager was the lynch-pin of any project, the hub of all the information, and the leader who ensured everyone was doing their job on time – that’s certainly how I used to feel.

"‘Social project management’ makes collaboration core to the project team; it creates efficiencies and deliveries better end results because of accountability and the collective intelligence of the group."

Hold your horses, isn’t this at the heart of the Agile Manifesto - individuals and interactions? More importantly, it speaks to the whole concept of self-organised teams?

"In a commoditised world your collaborative culture and strong client relationships can be a differentiator."

Really, what you mean is that we should value customer collaboration over customer negotiation?

So tell me how should we make a project ‘social’? Apparently it is not difficult, there are a great many tools that can be used with minimal cost or training.

No! Why tools? Yes, where they are required, for example, for distributed teams, but not as a pre-requisite to every project. Can’t we just talk to people? The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a team is face-to-face conversation.

"It is hard to enforce new working practices and get people to stay on board after the initial fanfare and training; what often works well is using a smaller group to champion the process."

Sounds like ‘start’ from where you are now but start small, move fast. Evolution over Revolution - implementing a small change is so much easier that trying to implement a big one.

"McKinsey’s Social Economy report of 2012 noted common characteristics of successful networked organisations including, persistent approach to trying new things, learning and adapting."

Ok, I need to step in again. Surely this is an empirical process; transparency, inspection and adaptation? Create a hypothesis, run and experiment, make the results transparent so the results can be inspected – if good continue, if not pivot (adapt).

"Time to go Social? You don’t have a choice about adopting ‘social project management’ practices; your employees, customers and competitors are going to force your hand."

Look, it was a great article, if only because it got my attention. But why try and dress up ‘Agile project management’ into ‘social project management’? There is nothing to fear in the Agile world for project management.

Is there a role for project management in an Agile organisation? Absolutely.

Do project managers need to change in an Agile organisation? You bet.

Is it something for project managers to fear? To quote the closing lines from the article:

"[...] for anyone who enjoys their work it should be a boom time filled with opportunities."

But please don’t pretend that it’s anything different to the heart of agility.



Darren Wilmshurst

Darren Wilmshurst

With his strategic C-suite-oriented approach to IT leadership – and his infectious energy – Darren has successfully delivered multi-million pound business transformations for e-commerce sites, ERP implementations, outsourcing and offshoring, including multiple Agile transformations. Read more