Agile – the key to thriving in the 21st century – with Barbara Roberts
In this webinar, Barbara Roberts, a leading agile thinker from the UK discusses how agile project management is crucial for success in the 21st century.
Barbara discusses the evolution of business in the past few decades, starting with the dominance of machines in the 1960s and the introduction of Rapid Application Development (RAD) in the late 1980s and early 1990s, which had negative effects on end-user solutions.
In the webinar, Barbara Roberts explains the essence of Agile, which she describes as an ‘umbrella’ term for flexible ways of working. She emphasises that Agile is not a set of strict rules to be followed in a specific order but rather a mindset that should be adopted.
Barbara also highlights the key characteristics all Agile approaches and discusses the shift from traditional approaches to an Agile approach, which prioritises time, cost, and quality.
Scroll to watch the video of the webinar, or download the presentation or audio, or read the full transcript of the webinar.
About Barbara Roberts
Barbara has worked in IT for over 50 years and has witnessed numerous changes during her career. In 1994, she played a key role in the development of DSDM – the first agile approach.
Barbara has extensive experience coaching organisations through business changes across various sectors through an agile transformation.
Barbara helps large corporates adapt to the competitive demands of the 21st century. She suggested the creation of Agile Project Management (AgilePM®), and since its launch in 2010, it has surpassed 200,000 successful exam candidates.
As a sought-after speaker at conferences and events and conducts masterclasses worldwide. She is known for her pragmatic, common-sense and down-to-earth approach.
Agile Project Management (AgilePM®)
AgilePM (Agile Project Management) is a framework for managing agile projects and is based upon DSDM.
AgilePM is flexible and adaptable, and emphasises collaboration, customer satisfaction, and the ability to respond to change.
AgilePM focuses on delivering high-quality products and services to customers through iterative and incremental development.
AgilePM is scalable and flexible and can be used in projects of any size or complexity. It provides a project management approach to agile projects that other Agile frameworks, such as Scrum do not.
AgilePM is widely recognised as the most popular agile project management framework worldwide.
Classroom-based agile training
- Agile courses
- AgilePM courses
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Here’s the full transcript of the video.
00:00:02 Sevcan Yasa: Hello everyone.
00:00:06 Sevcan Yasa: Just while we wait for a few more people, we do have two very quick questions for you, so if you could answer them that would be great.
00:00:27 Sevcan Yasa: Seems like a variety of experiences here.
00:00:47 Sevcan Yasa: So, we can start in one minute.
00:01:06 Sevcan Yasa: Hi Andrew, nice seeing you.
00:01:30 Sevcan Yasa: And so let me start giving a small introduction. So to start off I’m Sevcan and I’m the marketing executive for Knowledge Train. Knowledge Train actually owns agileKRC. Just before I head over to Barbara.
00:01:46 Sevcan Yasa: I would actually like to say that right at the end there will be a Q&A roughly around 10 to 15 minutes.
00:01:52 Sevcan Yasa: So, if you do have any questions or you have recommendations or any comments on Barbara’s presentation, feel free to leave in the comments and then we can go through them at the end.
00:02:03 Sevcan Yasa: I’m going to close the poll now.
00:02:17 Sevcan Yasa: Over to you, Barbara.
00:02:19 Barbara Roberts: OK, well good evening everybody or afternoon. Good evening. So, thanks for joining this webinar and thanks to KRC for giving me a chance to talk about Agile again. Shall thoroughly enjoy doing.
00:02:31 Barbara Roberts: I know at least one of you on that list that I can see a name I recognise. But for those of you that don’t know me, I’ve been working with Agile basically forever.
00:02:41 Barbara Roberts: Even when I started out in IT, I always worked in an agile way. I just didn’t know what it was called and basically, I specialised in agile in the complex corporate world.
00:02:52 Barbara Roberts: So, I end up doing the difficult agile transformations. The complex ones where you’ve got formal regulatory or particular difficult problems, and I’m lucky enough to get invited to talk agile all around the world, which is great fun.
00:03:06 Barbara Roberts: Erm, anyone that knows me knows I’m passionate about doing this, but also I’m very very keen on the agnostic agile oath. I have a lot of enthusiasm for Agile Business Consortium, creating AgilePM was actually my idea for APMG originally, but my style is that it’s about choosing the right approach, the most appropriate approach, not my agile, is better than your agile. So that’s the background to me.
00:03:39 Barbara Roberts: What I’m going to talk about tonight. It was interesting to see we’ve got a good mix of knowledge from don’t know anything about agile to an expert, so that always makes it interesting. So some of you might find some of this fairly basic, others will hopefully find it useful.
00:03:55 Barbara Roberts: I wanted to talk a little bit about agile, how do we get here in 2022? Where’s this come from? Just cover some of the very basic concepts of agile because they’re often misinterpreted.
00:04:07 Barbara Roberts: And some of the agile misconceptions because we often talk about agile about something. That is, it’s easy to understand but difficult to master.
00:04:17 Barbara Roberts: And what I find frightening is how many people I come across who’ve got it completely wrong, either because they’re passionately enthusiastic or because they’re they’re frightened of it.
00:04:28 Barbara Roberts: So it’s quite interesting to cover off some of the misconceptions as well.
00:04:33 Barbara Roberts: So when I started out, I started out originally in IT a very long time ago, hence the grey hairs. And when I started in IT, basically that was a time when the world business world was ruled by machines.
00:04:49 Barbara Roberts: So we had these software engineers and usually elderly gentleman. Interestingly, often smoking pipes in the computer rooms and IT software was seen very much as magic and it drove businesses so you didn’t ask for what you wanted, you begged for something and IT basically would give you what they felt like giving you.
00:05:11 Barbara Roberts: And in the very very early days of this, it was actually quite fun because there was little or no formal process and you could just be as innovative as you wanted to be and the attraction, you know the instruction was to get. Just get it done, which if you worked in IT was great fun.
00:05:29 Barbara Roberts: If you worked in business, it was less good because you often got solutions that you didn’t like, couldn’t use or didn’t work, but you were told that you should just be grateful.
00:05:38 Barbara Roberts: When we started this this style of working when IT became so dominant, there was one fundamental mistake and that was the concept that software engineering worked very much the same as all other styles of engineering. So, if you were doing engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering you’re dealing with things.
00:06:00 Barbara Roberts: The problem with software engineering is yes, the computer’s a thing, but you’re trying to interface to a human who is not as predictable as a brick or a building or calculating the stress on a wall. So, in the early years while IT was the master it worked OK, it worked while we kept users at arm’s length. That was really good.
00:06:27 Barbara Roberts: When we got into the 70s, what came along then was this concept of quality. It was the first of the we need formal quality, so a bit like you have approval for building. They wanted a similar similar sort of quality process for IT.
00:06:42 Barbara Roberts: So, in 1970, the Royce approach was was published and this is the original waterfall approach called Waterfall because it looks like a a series of steps constantly going downhill from the beginning to the end and it’s a one-way track, like a waterfall.
00:06:59 Barbara Roberts: And it was brought in in place to manage development of large software systems but it was designed very much for a static world where exception was the problem. Where change was the exception and it was seen as a problem. So, if you looked at page one of Royce’s paper, you’ve got this very, very simple, very clean diagram with some small print at the bottom.
00:07:22 Barbara Roberts: What’s interesting is if you look at this mindset, a lot of organisations are still working to this this mindset and it’s actually constraining them because if you roll forward from 1970s to the current world. In the 1970s you designed solutions around IT, and you quite often had projects that ran for 10-20 years.
00:07:45 Barbara Roberts: That simply doesn’t work in the modern world. That change is a fact of life, and if you’re still working to this defined sort of linear what way of working, it’s starting to cause a lot of problems, and it’s interesting that Royce spotted this even in the 70s, because although page one said do this waterfall defining how waterfall works, it’s often misinterpreted because at the bottom Royce stated that the implementation of simple waterfall described above is risky and invites failure. So, on page two he presented a much, much more complex diagram.
00:08:24 Barbara Roberts: So rather than the simple waterfall on the left, he expanded it to this very very complex diagram er on the left and unfortunately, most people never read page 2, so a lot of organisations still are trying to work this linear, predictable approach and it causes a lot of problems.
00:08:45 Barbara Roberts: So that was in place for about 10 years and then things started to change. With the advent of PC’s and this is one of the very very early IBM PCs and these arrived on the scene in in in the 80s and it was an absolutely fantastic time to be working in IT then, because suddenly as a developer we had the ability to do things quickly and easily. So instead of having to write sort of complex JCL stuff, getting it punched on cards, get it sent away then get it sort of sent off for compilation and find you type mistyped something you could sit on a PC and you could actually sit with a customer and create a solution. Ask them what they wanted and then build it and they love you for it.
00:09:31 Barbara Roberts: And they tell you that that’s brilliant and you think, well, that’s brilliant, would you like this.
00:09:36 Barbara Roberts: So, this style of working was called rapid application development because it was a way of quickly creating solutions to problems.
00:09:45 Barbara Roberts: Great fun on both sides, both from the customer and the and the IT side, but quite often I will be honest we we did sometimes focus on the more interesting parts, skipped the boring bits so it was all about creation, not necessarily about scalability, not necessarily about deep testing. It was just walking. Do some magic. Give somebody a solution, then walk away and walk on to the next customer.
00:10:10 Barbara Roberts: And it left a lot of legacy behind. Because this was the late 80s that we started doing this Rapid Application Development by the early 90s, RAD was getting a really bad name and it was often referred to as RAD Cowboys. You know, coming in doing the yeezy stuff and then swanning off and doing something else.
00:10:30 Barbara Roberts: And people suggested that RAD probably stood for Rapidly Achieving Disaster or Really Awful Design rather than Rapid Application Development.
00:10:39 Barbara Roberts: And the risk we realised with with the whole RAD approach was we were focusing on speed and we weren’t – and we were focusing on user-driven and we ended up with this uncontrolled spread of end user solutions with multiple copies of corporate data.
00:10:56 Barbara Roberts: And still today you often find you get multiple copies of information from companies because they’ve everybody’s got their own version of the corporate address list. So, we ended up with far too many unscalable solutions or unsustainable solutions, and that wasn’t ideal.
00:11:17 Barbara Roberts: So by the mid-90s some of us got together and we had real concern because RAD was getting such a bad reputation there was a risk that it was going to be thrown out. And the people that were looking at this saying well it’s not working what we need to do is we need to go back to the bad old days or in their opinion the good old days where we had full control.
00:11:38 Barbara Roberts: So, the risk was that RAD and the problems that RAD was bringing would drive a return to full waterfall and that is really, really not the way forward. So, what happened was a group of us got together. That we needed a better way of working. We needed to look at what RAD was good. And what things in RAD were bad. So, a group of companies got together and recognised that how does this work well.
00:11:38 Barbara Roberts: So DSDM, the first of the the agile approaches, first of the RAD approaches was created by a group of people from competitive organisations from organisations had no context, no relationship with one another, getting together and sharing their knowledge about what works well. You know your RAD solutions, your good ones. What is it about them? That’s good. The ones that go horribly wrong. What is it about those ones that are bad?
00:12:34 Barbara Roberts: And from that we worked out what are the basics and it made us realise that rapid and user driven were fine, but they in a corporate world they still need control and quality. You need full parameters not two. Control is not bad; quality is not bad. Rapid is good. User-driven is good, so let’s build all four.
00:12:56 Barbara Roberts: So basically bringing everybody bringing their best practises and things that worked – approaches that worked, the practises that worked, we built the first of the the official RAD proper RAD methods. And that was DSDM Dynamic Systems Development Method. And it was a collegiate approach designed basically from UK corporates for the most part on best working practise and we launched this. The first version was launched in 94, well prepared in 94, launched early 95 and then revised about six months later. So, version 2 came about end of 95.
00:13:37 Barbara Roberts: And then following this one a lot of other RAD-style approaches followed. Most of these interestingly are US-based and guru-led. So, you have these these gurus, who are the the leaders of RAD. DSDM was always very different. It was always collegiate; it was always a group. And it was always sharing our own best practise. It was never somebody going away into a darkened room and defining a method.
00:14:03 Barbara Roberts: We built something that worked and it was proved to work before we launched it. And actually I did one of the first early adopter versions of the the first version in 1995 with British Rail. I was the RAD manager at British Rail. British Rail was one of the trials. Co-op Bank was another I think Sysdeco or was another.
00:14:28 Barbara Roberts: So that went nicely for a while, but once we got into 2000s we we started to realise that RAD that the term that we’ve grown up with was not a good word.
00:14:40 Barbara Roberts: So, what happened because of RAD, because Rad says rapid application development, people think that speed is the most important thing or the most important, or the only driver. And also this this misconception, that apparently if you do RAD, you can deliver the impossible in half the time.
00:14:59 Barbara Roberts: And I know some of us spent quite a lot of our time saying to people that RAD still applies the law of physics. If you’ve got nine months’ worth of work, it will take about nine months to deliver. You can’t get it in in six weeks because we’re doing RAD. It’s not that simple.
00:15:15 Barbara Roberts: So basically a number of the representatives of the various bigger RAD approaches got invited to go away for the weekend, and I’m really annoyed because I couldn’t go and I know another colleague of mine from Sweden was also annoyed because he couldn’t go, but there was a representative from DSDM and that was Erika Bennekom from Sweden.
00:15:36 Barbara Roberts: And we have representatives from things like Extreme Programming and various other agile approaches. Scrum. And basically they decided to get rid of the word RAD and replace it with the word Agile and Agile is a much better word. Much more sensible word because it suggests being flexible. It suggests the ability to bend, and whenever I think about Agile, the the the image that comes to mind – if anybody remembers watching cartoons as children – if you remember that, I think it’s Road Runner, which is something like an ostrich and he’s constantly running down a road in America somewhere and he gets hit with a crowbar on his neck and the neck bends and he keeps running. And that is a very, very good description of agile. You get hit with stuff you flex and you keep going.
00:16:27 Barbara Roberts: And they came up with this Agile Manifesto, which is very good. Very clear, but often completely misinterpreted. The only problem DSDM had with the Manifesto is we never agreed with the word software. And we always replace that with solution.
00:16:44 Barbara Roberts: So, the manifesto says that we value individuals and interactions above processes and tools. So, people drive us processes and tools support us. We value working solution above comprehensive documentation. The only value for the documentation is to support the solution in practice. In its own right, it has no use at all.
00:17:06 Barbara Roberts: We value customer collaboration above contract negotiation. That doesn’t mean you can’t use agile under contract, but what we try to when working with Agile under contract is making referring to the small print of the contract the last thing we do not the first thing we do and we value responding to change above following a plan.
00:17:27 Barbara Roberts: If you if you’re not experienced in Agile you will come across people who will tell you categorically that we’re doing agile we don’t have the document or we’re following agile we don’t plan. That is completely untrue.
00:17:40 Barbara Roberts: If you’re doing a large, complex project, yes, you absolutely definitely need a plan. Yes, you definitely need documentation for a solution that’s going to be in production for the next five years and continuously enhanced.
00:17:52 Barbara Roberts: But we’re driven by the things on the left. And the things on the right are what support us. They they don’t take precedence. The things in green are what are our primary focus, the things on the right are there to help us deliver what we need to deliver.
00:18:10 Barbara Roberts: So, when we talk about Agile, agile itself is an umbrella term. It describes a generic style of working and there are lots of flavours of agile, different agile approaches, and interestingly each one has specific strengths and weaknesses and I work with all of them just about.
00:18:31 Barbara Roberts: I have particular favourites. Obviously I love AgilePM because it’s my baby where it was originally.
00:18:36 Barbara Roberts: But if Scrum is the right answer then Scrum is the right answer. Scrum is brilliant as a team-based process, but it’s not so good as the big big big picture the the vision type stuff. Kanban is very good at visualisation. Lean is good at work in progress.
00:18:53 Barbara Roberts: Agile Programme Management is good at the higher level. SAFe, Scaled Agile Framework is very, very good at distributed complex IT projects.
00:19:03 Barbara Roberts: So, if you’re going to use agile, the first thing to think about is what is the right agile approach. And it’s not about somebody coming in and telling you this is my agile approach.
00:19:13 Barbara Roberts: This is what you need, and I published a White paper on Agile Wars because they’ve got fed up with. You get an organisation working well with agile and then a salesperson comes along and says ‘you don’t need that one, you need mine’ and people will throw out something that’s working to bring in something new on sometimes on a sales pitch that’s wrong.
00:19:34 Barbara Roberts: In my experience, obviously I’m a consultant, but the simple answer here is, it’s never ever going to be ‘one size fits all’. Every organisation I work with, I start by finding out what it is they do, what their problems are, and what they need before I work out what approach or what combination of approaches they need. And that’s part of this agnostic agile oath. I won’t come in and sell a particular one. Nobody should do that to any organisation. The first thing any consultant doing agile coming into an organisation should do is listen and ask questions and then work out what’s needed.
00:20:11 Barbara Roberts: So, all the agile approaches share certain common features. They’re all flexible. They’re all designed to work very closely with the customer throughout. They’re all designed to make sure that what we deliver at the end actually meets the business need and the way we do that is. We keep checking all the way through.
00:20:30 Barbara Roberts: And we also accept that while we’re working, it’s quite possible that the requirements will change, and this is not seen as a stopper. It’s seen as normal. It’s seen as business as usual. And for that reason all of the agile approaches recommend that you deserve defer the decisions on the detail until the last responsible moment.
00:20:50 Barbara Roberts: So, for example, if you are going to catch a customer details, I can tell you very roughly how long that piece of work will take even without understanding what your customer details are. Because I’ve done so many of these, I know that typically it’s a medium sized piece of work. It’s not huge, it’s not small, it’s medium. Even without understanding exactly what details you want.
00:21:13 Barbara Roberts: But at the end of the day, Agile is a mindset. It’s not a rule book. The application of agile the way we do agile, the way we apply agile needs in itself to be done in an agile way.
00:21:27 Barbara Roberts: So it’s all about having the right mindset. It’s not about steamrollering the process where you want people to follow the rules like lemmings and just do what the rulebook test tells you when I train.
00:21:39 Barbara Roberts: When I coach, I challenge people all the time to a challenge themselves. If I tell them to do something or suggest they do something. I want them to challenge me. Where’s the value? Why are we doing that? That doesn’t feel right.
00:21:52 Barbara Roberts: And it might be that they need to change, or it might be that I’ve misunderstood. So, it for me, bringing agile into an organisation it’s about working out where it fits and where it needs to be adapted, and perhaps where the organisation needs to adapt and it’s a combination of all those. It’s never ‘here’s my approach, just do what I tell you’.
00:22:13 Barbara Roberts: Because when I go to do a transformation, I know agile very well, but I don’t know the organisations details in and out. So it’s about both of us working together to make this work effectively.
00:22:26 Barbara Roberts: So, at it’s basic concept Agile is an empirical approach and empiricism is the idea that you learn from experience and observations rather than theory or logic.
00:22:39 Barbara Roberts: So, you might have read the book. You might think you understand it, but you only start to really understand something when you try and do it. You can read a book on building a wall. But it might not tell you, for example, that building a wall when it’s as cold outside as it is today is not a good idea.
00:22:57 Barbara Roberts: So, all the agile approaches are built around these three fundamental concepts. These three pillars, we’ve got transparency. We’ve got adaption, and we’ve got inspection.
00:23:08 Barbara Roberts: So, transparency is that we want everybody to know what’s going on. Anybody that wants to see where we are can see. We’ve got this concept once, something that was driven by the digital transformation. The concept of go see for yourself. If people want to know what’s going on, they should be able to see live, or at least no more than 24 hours out of date what’s actually happening on the ground. So, in agile there should be no hiding place. You can’t pretend it’s going well if it isn’t, because Agile will wave red flags and say to you do something about it. Do not ignore this because you’ll be really sorry it won’t go away, so transparency is one.
00:23:49 Barbara Roberts: Inspection, the idea that we don’t just go away into a darkened room, take a spec, code it, display it, and at the end, and expect it to fit exactly as specified because that never works. So we have this approach of do a bit show a bit, get feedback.
00:24:10 Barbara Roberts: And we use this concept of continuous feedback all the time to make sure that we converge from the requirement to delivering a solution that works. And that allows us to either find out early if we’ve got something completely wrong or fine tune it if we’re going slightly off key.
00:24:27 Barbara Roberts: So, we’re constantly checking, so if you’re working with a customer, you don’t just go away and sort of present them with a fait accompli at the end, you do a little bit and say ‘is that the sort of thing you were thinking about when you said you wanted pink? Is it that pink or or is it a different colour you were looking for?’ So if you go wrong, you don’t go far wrong. That saves you a huge amount of time.
00:24:50 Barbara Roberts: And then the third part is Adaption. That if you find you’re wrong, it’s perfectly OK to change tactical direction. And the important thing here is is the word tactical.
00:25:02 Barbara Roberts: It doesn’t mean you can change everything. It doesn’t mean you can change the throw the baby out with the bath water towards the end and say no I wanted something completely different. Everything you do is built on what you’ve just done on what you’ve agreed. And to all intents and purposes if it’s smaller tactical changes, you can do that as part of the ongoing process.
00:25:23 Barbara Roberts: If it’s a more strategic change, then that would need to be handled more formally because it’s a major thing that you have to deal with. It’s not small and simple.
00:25:33 Barbara Roberts: If, for example, you were going to do a website and then somebody decided no, they’ve changed their mind, they want to publish it as a book. That is a huge change. It’s not something you’d just say all right, then we’ll swap it. So, all the agile approaches have these three concepts at their base.
00:25:51 Barbara Roberts: What we then have to think about when you’re working on anything is what’s driving this particular delivery.
00:25:58 Barbara Roberts: So, with all my customers with all my projects with all my programmes, my starting discussion with my customer is ‘OK, what’s driving this one? So you’ve got four things to play with here, and let’s assume it’s all gonna go fine. You’ll get all of them, but before we start work what I need to do is understand from your point of view if we run into problems, where would you be prepared to negotiate? And what would you defend to the death?’
00:26:25 Barbara Roberts: So, on the traditional approach, what happened was that we basically we spend a lot of time doing the specification and the specification would define the features that we want and that would be signed off, usually in blood, and it became a fixed thing non-negotiable.
00:26:43 Barbara Roberts: And when you put together a plan of delivering a specification, what we seem to do historically is we also promised that that you would deliver it on time, and we do it in cost and you would of course be delivered a solution that was quality.
00:26:58 Barbara Roberts: And what happens as soon as you hit a problem with this fixed feature this traditional linear approach if you hit a problem typically we slip the deadline. If you slip the deadline, the cost goes up. And then you slip the deadline again and then the cost goes up again. And because you’re doing this linear style you might be halfway through and people start to panic about the slipping deadline because that’s a problem for the business, so they start compromising on the quality.
00:27:27 Barbara Roberts: So quite often, the time, the cost and the quality are compromised just because of this linear approach. Because you’re trying to make sure you deliver 100% of the solution.
00:27:38 Barbara Roberts: What we do with agile is we turn the approach completely upside down. So what we do from the right at the beginning from end of foundations phase, if you’re used to agile PM, but you know when you’ve got a reasonable idea of what you’re trying to do, you agree a deadline, you agree a cost in terms of the resources the people you’re putting on this and you agree that every element you deliver will be of the appropriate level of quality.
00:28:05 Barbara Roberts: And when we build the negotiation it’s around the features. So, you might give, you may give me a list of 100 things you want. And at the medium level, you want all of them, but quite often when we explore the low-level detail, there’s room to negotiate. I mean a good example of this, the one I often use is and we need to be able to pay electronically. Obviously, you must have some form of electronic payment, but there’s options here. Is it credit card?
00:28:33 Barbara Roberts: Is it debit card? Is it American Express? Is it PayPal? Is it all of them? Could you do with one of them could we could just go with Visa, MasterCard as the most commonly used ones?
00:28:44 Barbara Roberts: So, this is where we build the negotiation, but it’s not at the high level features. It’s usually in the depth of the features. You can get a very very good working solution and minimum viable product and minimal usable solution, but it does the basics of everything you want on time on cost on quality.
00:29:02 Barbara Roberts: And quite often the things that you end up dropping, the things that have the least value, the least impact, the least pain, the things you would happily live on live without because time is what’s driving you, and for an awful lot of organisations these days for an awful lot of their work time is the driver.
00:29:21 Barbara Roberts: Delivering for a conference. Delivering for launch for new product. Delivering for an advertising campaign. Whatever it is in the modern world, time is often more important than getting 100% perfect has however long it takes. So, we do things differently.
00:29:39 Barbara Roberts: So, I like using analogies and the analogies I use for agile compared to a traditional approach is is travelling and my my seven years as a manager of British Rail brought this very much to mind. And when you travel on the rail it’s a much more predictable way of travelling, even if you’re travelling on the fastest train in the world, you know the bullet train in Japan. You’re still limited where you can go. You’re still limited to points change from where other trains are. You can’t just slip over onto the onto the hard shoulder and go round the blockage.
00:30:17 Barbara Roberts: If you travel on the train regularly, you know roughly what to expect, but you also know that you can be disrupted with leaves on line. People stealing the the the wires, the trains broken down or just people playing up at the station and somebody being needing to be escorted off the train. So train journeys are very very predictable apart from the unexpected. And that’s exactly what a traditional linear style of waterfall approach feels like it. It’s predictable. It’s like a train journey.
00:30:50 Barbara Roberts: Agile is very different. So, the agile style of working to me is much more sort of ocean racing.
00:30:59 Barbara Roberts: Certainly, sailing is a is a very good comparison. There’s a lot more uncertainty. There’s a high probability of change. Even if you’re getting a ferry from Dover to Calais or taking a small sailing boat from Dover to Calais. Technically, as the sailing boat you have right of way, but if there’s very large ferry coming towards you and he’s not moving. You move because you need to. You move off track.
00:31:25 Barbara Roberts: So, an agile style of working is constantly never been quite where you expect and constantly re-planning to get to where you need to be at the end.
00:31:34 Barbara Roberts: So in an agile style of working, you would never say right in three weeks’ time on Tuesday afternoon. I expect to be at this GPS point in the Atlantic.
00:31:44 Barbara Roberts: It’s not that predictable on a train. You can say well, looking at this. My typical journey if I get the 7:15 train out of Grantham I’d expect to be in Leeds at X and normally you would be. Sailing is not like that.
00:31:58 Barbara Roberts: So, think about agile more like sailing more like being uncertain, high probability change and considering this is perfectly normal, it’s just the way things are as stuff hits you, you adapt, you flex you replan to get you to where you need to be.
00:32:15 Barbara Roberts: Interestingly, there’s science behind that. The science behind this is this concept that you’ve got 2 things to deal with. You’ve got the requirements, which is the what you’re trying to deliver, and you’ve got the solution, which is the how you’re going to deliver.
00:32:31 Barbara Roberts: And with the requirements you’ve got, everything from ‘I know exactly what I want’, right the way through to ‘I’ve no idea what I want’ and on the solution side ‘you know exactly how I’m going to do this’ far from to the other extreme, ‘I’m very very uncertain’.
00:32:49 Barbara Roberts: So, if you know exactly what you want, and you know exactly how to build it, life is simple. And a linear, a traditional a waterfall approach is very good at simple.
00:32:59 Barbara Roberts: As you start to move out and your requirements become less well agreed, you’re where you’re going to deliver this becomes less certain life becomes complicated.
00:33:09 Barbara Roberts: If you’re trying to do linear in that approach, what you’ll find is people will say, ‘well, it’s no good telling me you don’t know. I’m sorry we need to get it written down’. So, you’ve got to imagine it. You’ve got to describe something, even if you don’t know what it is.
00:33:24 Barbara Roberts: So traditional in a complicated world is beginning to struggle. Agile in a complicated world is in its element.
00:33:33 Barbara Roberts: As you move further out into complex linear traditional waterfall will not work in a complex world because you need agreement, you need more certainty. Agile, is loving it that that is just business as usual.
00:33:48 Barbara Roberts: Even anarchy, we’re pretty good at. Most of you if you work in a corporate world, you probably won’t come across anarchy. My best example I was working for a a company owned by a the very elderly gentleman in his 70s with the mind of a teenager. He owned the company outright and he stopped me in the canteen and said Barbara, ‘these mobile apps’ he said, ‘they’re really good, aren’t they?’ And I said, ‘well, yeah’, I’m thinking you’re asking the wrong generation. I said ‘my kids, you think they’re great’. He said ‘we should have one’.
00:34:22 Barbara Roberts: ‘OK, what would you like it to do?’ He said ‘I don’t mind really as long as it’s got the brand on it’.
00:34:27 Barbara Roberts: How do you specify something like that and how do you pin down somebody like that? Who is a strategic thinker with no concept or interest in the detail?
00:34:38 Barbara Roberts: It was a very, very interesting project. Trying to work out what would meet, you know, a simple app to get into the app market so people would see the brand. Very, very interesting, but that’s what anarchy feels like. Most corporates don’t work in anarchy. You will normally be working sometimes in simple, but mostly these days in complicated and complex. So actually you need to start thinking more about agile if you haven’t thought about it already.
00:35:05 Barbara Roberts: Because in the modern world, you have to expect change and uncertainty. You’ll hear people talk a lot about this concept of. VUCA, the modern world is Volatile. It’s Uncertain, it’s Complex, it’s Ambiguous, it just is. Nobody even buys a phone without hesitating to check. If there’s a new model coming about coming out tomorrow.
00:35:26 Barbara Roberts: Technology is constantly changing. The world is changing, so we need to stop being frightened of it and accept that. It’s just the norm these days. So, organisations and projects have got to be able to deal with uncertainty the unknown because the real modern world, the 21st century world is very unpredictable and it’s the one thing that that COVID taught people.
00:35:51 Barbara Roberts: Any project managers that laminated a plan in January 2020? How did that go then?
00:35:58 Barbara Roberts: I was supposed to be travelling the world in 2020 for the first six months. I’m talking agile. I got as far as my first trip, got to Chicago, got out of Chicago about the day before the world fell apart, managed to get home, and then was stuck at home for the next nine months. I ended up travelling the world via via teams. I did the same work but I did it through the Internet.
00:36:22 Barbara Roberts: We have to expect change and uncertainty and we have to learn to deal with it because the world is never going to go back to the way it used to be in the 60s, 70s, 80s. It just won’t.
00:36:34 Barbara Roberts: And if you don’t keep up with the postal change, you’re gonna have real problems because it this is now about survival. And about thriving. Organisations need to be more flexible these days. They need to be nimble. They need to adapt.
00:36:50 Barbara Roberts: What we’ve seen over a number of years is the businesses can fail incredibly quick quickly if they don’t see the signs. Blockbusters went bust. Kodak’s leading brand for years missed the digital photography. BlackBerry thought this miniscule keypad and the folding model was the way to go. And the world moved on.
00:37:12 Barbara Roberts: I was actually working at Nokia and I remember a discussion with the technical gurus in Cambridge and they wrote the operating system. And the discussion over lunch went. ‘What do you think to the iPhones?’
00:37:24 Barbara Roberts: And the answer was they’ll never catch on because I mean they’re not even any good at making phone calls and there was a complete twist, a complete volte face – in fast in the market and Nokia missed it and by the time they caught up, the world had gone.
00:37:41 Barbara Roberts: And apart from being the leading brand, they’re a sort of third rate. They have a small number of phones now, but the the effect on certainly on Finland. The Finnish economy was built around Nokia. The Finnish education system was built around Nokia and they missed the turning point. They missed the pivot in the market so no organisation is too big to fail sadly.
00:38:06 Barbara Roberts: So, some a few misconceptions. The first one, the concept that agile is the answer. You’re doing everything wrong. What you want to do is you should bin doing traditional. You need to become fully agile and I see this an awful lot. And the way this message is framed is basically if you look at an agilometer. Congratulations. Well done you you’re you’re fully agile if you’re not doing agile, you’re a failure. You must try harder. Agile is the answer to whatever you’re trying to solve.
00:38:36 Barbara Roberts: The problem with that is it’s not true. This is a message being put out by people that don’t understand the complex corporate world.
00:38:44 Barbara Roberts: There are projects out there that I would not do agile because there is no value to switching it to agile.
00:38:51 Barbara Roberts: It is predominantly a predictable or repeatable process. Something like a desktop refresh rolled out across an organisation is not an agile project. It doesn’t need to be agile, it’s not volatile. It’s not uncertain. You do one. There might be minor tweaks between one and the next, that’s all, so I do use a traditional approach, but I’d plug in a number of agile and practices to try and improve things like the collaboration and the communication.
00:39:19 Barbara Roberts: The reality, if you look at the way we do work, is that the ‘how?’ is the spectrum, and as far as I’m concerned, anywhere on the spectrum is OK provided you choose while you’re there.
00:39:32 Barbara Roberts: The dangerous thing is, if you have a deep position, well, we do traditional because we always do traditional. We do agile because we like agile. That’s not the way forward.
00:39:41 Barbara Roberts: What we need to do is make a choice. And the choice depends on what type of business are you in. What about this particular piece of work? So, it’s about for each piece of work deciding where you want to be on this agilometer. And anywhere is OK, provided you’ve thought it through.
00:40:01 Barbara Roberts: But I also find, and I mean I did a lot of work with one particular organisation to try and work out the way they worked and the approaches they took. And what’s become clearer than many were years of working with complex corporates is there is actually a corporate sweet spot.
00:40:17 Barbara Roberts: Most corporates that I work with work in the middle. They work from as agile as they can possibly be within reason, middle of the road to ‘we need to be more linear, but we’re not working at the edges’.
00:40:33 Barbara Roberts: Give you a particular example. This was a fairly traditional process within the organisation. This was a normal agile process in the organisation and this was a process where we were trying to do agile but it was being being done under formal contracting and we needed to make it a little bit more formalised than normal.
00:40:51 Barbara Roberts: So we, with this particular organisation we defined 3 standard processes.
00:40:58 Barbara Roberts: What we found and what I found in most organisations is that most large corporates don’t work as the extremes.
00:41:06 Barbara Roberts: They do not work at the extreme agile because that is often seen as the edge of the chaos and they don’t work at the extremely linear because that’s actually seen as bureaucratic overload. Do the paperwork and it will be fine.
00:41:20 Barbara Roberts: And if you go to the right of extremely linear you actually end up at edge of chaos anyway.
00:41:26 Barbara Roberts: So, it’s about recognising that within most corporates you sit somewhere in the middle. You’re not normally working at extremely agile or extremely linear. Certainly, in complex corporates you don’t. It’s too risky.
00:41:41 Barbara Roberts: There’s also a misconception that you can either do governance, or you can do agile that you can’t or you can’t do both. I was coaching in Denmark and there was a stopper.
00:41:52 Barbara Roberts: We were having problems with the live systems and basically we were having problems with some of the agile teams because they said well it’s nothing to do with us because we’re doing agile and we have the right to be interrupted and and you have no right to apply governance to us because it says in the agile rule book that we’re allowed to do exactly what we want.
00:42:12 Barbara Roberts: That’s simply not true. Being agile doesn’t negate the need for good governance, but you need to be asking the right questions for what’s being delivered. So, if you’re doing agile, you need to ask questions about is agile being done right. You can’t come in with the traditional tick list.
00:42:29 Barbara Roberts: And because it just won’t work if you come in and ask me for my signed off functional spec, I’ll just tell you I haven’t got one, but I’ve got some really good photographs of post-it notes. digital photos of post-it notes, and that’s a working specification at the moment.
00:42:45 Barbara Roberts: And there’s lots of complex corporations that are formally regulated. And yes, they’re doing agile. You can’t refuse to do agile if you’re a farmer.
00:42:55 Barbara Roberts: Colleague of mine worked closely in the pharmaceutical. I worked in financial, Ministry of Defence, manufacturing, and insurance. We have to comply with governance.
00:43:05 Barbara Roberts: But we have to talk to governance about what they’re asking for and where there’s room to negotiate. But what you find is if you’re working in a formally governed organisation, then Agile is going to be constrained. Live with it, it just is. So, I will challenge some things, but I also accept that some things are non-negotiable.
00:43:23 Barbara Roberts: Straight fact of life. So, what we need to understand is doing agile in the corporate world is not the same as a couple of mates doing agile by selling DVD’s out of their garage. It’s still agile, but it’s heavyweight agile it’s much corporate strength.
00:43:40 Barbara Roberts: So, this perception that agile only works for small, simple projects is also not true. Complex projects need corporate strength agile and in that environment in my experience, Scrum on its own is rarely enough.
00:43:53 Barbara Roberts: This message that if you’re doing agile, you can’t do projects is wrong. It’s misguided, and I’ve published a paper on this with three colleagues from the Project Management Association and the Australian Institute of Project Management. There’s nothing Contra to agile and projects if you need to deliver projects, you can deliver agile projects.
00:44:14 Barbara Roberts: If you’re just doing team continuous delivery, Scrum is brilliant. When it tries to do corporate strength sometimes it falls into gaps.
00:44:24 Barbara Roberts: Give an example of a corporate strength Agile project. I was the adviser. There were three Ministry of Defence supplier organisations that were bidding for the work for the fly by wire and the Eurofighter and I was working on the supplier side because it was an agile bid and I was advising on the estimating for the agile bid.
00:44:46 Barbara Roberts: And my colleague was working on the other side of the Chinese wall, and he was working on the Ministry of Defence bid side of it to assess the bids. We weren’t allowed to talk to one another.
00:44:57 Barbara Roberts: My team won the bid. They delivered their fly by wire and as far as I’m aware it’s never gone wrong and you can’t get more highly regulated and safety critical fly by fly by wire missile guidance and missile guidance systems.
00:45:13 Barbara Roberts: We can also do small simple projects. We can do the whole range of projects, but we need to apply the appropriate style.
00:45:21 Barbara Roberts: One of the things I’m also very keen on, as you’ll appreciate when you look at me in the video. There’s a perception that really agile is only for the young. Well, I’m challenging that and I continue to challenge that
00:45:33 Barbara Roberts: When I was when I was at British Rail because I took on a lot of the graduates my my official title was RAD manager.
00:45:41 Barbara Roberts: My unofficial title was RAD Mum because I was looking after a lot of the youngsters. I’m I’m older now and somebody recently nicknamed me the Agile Granny. I’ll live with that. So Agile’s, for everyone it’s not just for Kevin., but it requires applying common sense.
00:45:59 Barbara Roberts: Unfortunately, this isn’t always common, but what I’ve seen is that agile agility is a natural human behaviour. We adapt to survive. Most of us, and I’ve met 100-year-olds that are still very agile. Although actually you know it’s mostly mental agility. Or I saw a 95-year-old doing yoga today and that was just amazing.
00:46:21 Barbara Roberts: I’ve also met some young agile fanatics or older agile fanatics that believe that they’re very, very dogmatic about what they do, and they come come up with it says in the book. They’re not flexible about what they do.
00:46:36 Barbara Roberts: My favourite personal experience, bit embarrassing. I did a presentation at a conference on Agile, an agile project, a difficult one we delivered. And this this guy came up to me. Afterwards he said ‘I enjoyed your presentation, but it was wrong’.
00:46:49 Barbara Roberts: ‘So, oh why was it wrong?’ He said, ‘well, I’ve got the books’ and he showed me his AgilePM handbook.
00:46:55 Barbara Roberts: He said ‘I carry it with me all the time’. He said, ‘you know, and that’s the way I work and I need to point out that on page so and so’ he said, ‘that’s not what it says in the book’.
00:47:03 Barbara Roberts: ‘So, it’s interesting, so you’ve read the book?’, he said ‘yeah’, I said ‘have you have you read the introduction?’ he said ‘no’. So I said, ‘well, if you have a look at page, whatever it is at the beginning. So, if you see the introduction, do you see the name at the bottom?’ He said ‘it’s Barbara somebody’. I said, ‘yeah, I wrote the book or I co-wrote the book’.
00:47:21 Barbara Roberts: I said ‘it’s a guide, not a rule book. It’s something you you you use it to guide you, but you adapt as you need to. So please don’t use it, as the book says therefore I must do it. If it feels stupid, ask why it is stupid because one of the two of you is wrong. Either you or the book. But it definitely won’t work if you just follow the book. It was never designed to do that’.
00:47:43 Barbara Roberts: You’ll see it’s also see a lot about agile bragging. I go to conferences and people announce that they’re doing agile brilliantly and I sit in the audience, and I think you’re not. I know you’re not in that project you’re presenting. Talk about smoke and mirrors. It was nothing like as shiny as you’re presenting.
00:48:01 Barbara Roberts: So, take this with a pinch of salt, because the reality is often very different. Organisations say ‘now we’re agile’ and if you look at it they might have one very small agile piece of work somewhere deep in the organisation and everything else in the organisation is still very traditional. A full agile transformation doesn’t happen overnight.
00:48:22 Barbara Roberts: It’s a major change programme. It’s not a binary switch. It’s not as simple as installing JIRA or DevOps. It involves significant behavioural change, so it’s not that simple.
00:48:33 Barbara Roberts: So agile after all these years. All that I’ve been fighting the norm for many years. It’s finally getting out that it’s finally being accepted. So whenever you go onto Amazon, you’re inundated with books with agile in the in the title. Apparently, you can do everything with agile.
00:48:55 Barbara Roberts: You know, not just IT testing, agile, HR, emotional agility, just getting results. Generally, the agile way, marketing agile. There’s so many.
00:49:03 Barbara Roberts: But you also see some misguided opinions. One of them is that agile is the solution to all problems. These are the agile fanatics. The other, the other one is agile is a necessary evil.
00:49:19 Barbara Roberts: And these are people that are trying desperately to hope Agile is going to go away to me. Both views are equally dangerous.
00:49:25 Barbara Roberts: The answer is it depends. It’s agile is terrible in the wrong place. Traditional, it’s also terrible in the wrong place. It’s about making the right choice. So, if you look at the big picture for agile, lots and lots to think about here.
00:49:43 Barbara Roberts: This is a drawing that I picked up somebody trying to describe agile. I think they did it at a conference. The main thing to remember is agile is a mindset, but it’s based around common sense, common sense, things like the best way to communicate, if possible, is face to face, or if not face to face then video.
00:50:03 Barbara Roberts: Another common sense thing is if you don’t satisfy your customer, you won’t have a business.
00:50:08 Barbara Roberts: We also talk about getting results through teamwork and collaboration, so we’re driven by individuals and interactions rather than processes and tools.
00:50:17 Barbara Roberts: So things like having self-organising teams working together, talking to one another, daily touch touching base, daily, catching up on where we are, who’s got problems, who needs help.
00:50:30 Barbara Roberts: But Agile is not just about being agile, it’s about doing agile and being agile means everything you do starts from thinking about agile.
00:50:39 Barbara Roberts: Thinking about, can we cope with change? I’m not trying to pin anything down until I absolutely need to, so there’s a lot to think about in agile that it’s basically all around the people. All of these things I’ve highlighted are people based.
00:50:54 Barbara Roberts: So it’s a lot more than a buzzword, and there’s a lot more to it. It can be very simple, it can be incredibly complex depending on what you’re trying to deliver.
00:51:03 Barbara Roberts: Obviously delivering fly by wire controls for the Eurofighter was incredibly complex. You and a mate selling DVD’s, incredibly simple, but then you can always fold and start again. And nobody loses.
00:51:18 Barbara Roberts: OK, questions. I’ll sttop sharing and hand back to Sev.
00:51:29 Sevcan Yasa: Hi, thank you so much for the presentation Barbara. Just before I head over to the questions, the webinar is recorded and Barbara kindly sent me the presentation slides. So, I will send everyone the recording and the slides.
00:51:46 Barbara Roberts: And there’s a couple I missed over which they’re in the original ones. You can still see them.
00:51:52 Sevcan Yasa: Now we have a question here. So, the first one is my colleagues are struggling to join with the error ‘here is already a participant with this e-mail participant token’. Are you able to help?
00:52:07 Barbara Roberts: Sorry I don’t understand the question.
00:52:09 Sevcan Yasa: And so this question is by George. Yeah, if you, if George if you’d like to expand on your question, that would be great.
00:52:22 Sevcan Yasa: We have a question by Amanda.
00:52:27 Sevcan Yasa: Have you seen agile methods used in the NHS?
00:52:32 Barbara Roberts: Yes, and interestingly, I was doing some coaching with the NHS recently and it was a lady who wanted to do more agile and the problem she was finding was everything she tried to do was running up against traditional thinking at the next level up. Yes, we want to do agile, but we want everything formalised.
00:52:51 Barbara Roberts: And and that was one of the difficulties we had. But yes, and I think to be honest, agile at the you know it needs more agile thinking and it needs management to start taking a more agile approach. You’ve got to be flexible. You know what are the things we could do that are still safe that are still legal? What are the, you know we need to adapt sometimes, and sometimes you can’t do things by rule of law. You have to do to adapt to whatever you’re presented with.
00:53:18 Barbara Roberts: I’d love to do more work with the, you know, some of the large governance organisations, government organisations, but I find it very hard work because at the senior level often there’s this this blocker that they want to do things the old way, but they want all the benefits of agile and somehow we’ve got to talk to the senior people. To help them understand how they can gain from this without losing control without losing quality. And to be honest, uh, you know, NHS of all of them actually needs a lot of help at the moment.
00:53:49 Barbara Roberts: I was so frustrated I had to say to this lady I can’t continue to coach you because it’s not fair for me to take money from you. For me, coaching you when you’re saying, but I can’t do any of this. I said try and get me to talk to your seniors. Maybe I can explain to them how this could potentially help.
00:54:08 Sevcan Yasa: Yeah, thank you for that. We have another question. What is the difference between the different types under the oops sorry.
00:54:17 Barbara Roberts: So under the Agile umbrella I saw that OK, I sort of saw it so I could read it for once. If you look at Scrum, Scrum is probably the best. The simplest, the most popular agile approach and the reason it’s so popular is you can explain it on a page and if you’re if you’re selling to senior management. If you can explain it on a page, then you keep their attention span long enough for them to think it’s great, but it’s not the only agile approach.
00:54:44 Barbara Roberts: It’s not the answer to everything, so it’s not Scrum equals the agile, agile equals Scrum. Scrum is a very, very simple, team-based way of working brilliant to what it does, but it doesn’t scale. It doesn’t consider the strategic view. The pro-project view. For example, if you’re doing scrum, there’s no concept of the beginning, a middle and an end like you have in a project, and if you’re delivering projects, you need an agile project.
00:55:12 Barbara Roberts: Kanban is a way of managing things like work in progress, you know, Lean and Kanban. We often use Kanban boards to show things we’ve got to do. How’s it progressing across the board to see visual demonstrable progress of this? All this is all the work we’ve got to do. This is what’s in progress. This is what’s done.
00:55:32 Barbara Roberts: And we use that often in what’s often a two-to-four-week time box or Sprint to show how’s the work going with the team in the Sprint, and if we do it electronically, what we used to do at Nokia was the electronic versions of these boards. The system would pull round, pick up each team. And it would pick their board up and it would display on high big boards about the coffee machines in the vice President’s office and it would sit there for 10 minutes, and five minutes and it would go into another team.
00:56:04 Barbara Roberts: And when you know how to read them, you can look at it as a manager and say oh that looks OK. Oh dear, that looks really worrying. I’ll go and talk to them. So this is part of the transparency.
00:56:16 Barbara Roberts: Agile Project Management is designed to deliver projects in a more complex environment, but my most common two is agile project management with Scrum. Because Scrum is brilliant at the team level and it’s most commonly known for people that have been trained in agile. But if you want to scale up, you need the wrapper to put the project bit on top, and that’s what I sometimes describe as the grown up bit. So what you’re trying to do at the project level is to protect the team from the project complications so that they can get on at work at full full speed.
00:56:50 Barbara Roberts: SAFe is Scaled Agile Framework and it’s designed for very complex distributed IT developments, but it has minimal focus on business, so it wouldn’t work on a business change. AgilePM will do a business change because it doesn’t focus necessarily on IT, so they all have their strengths and weaknesses.
00:57:11 Barbara Roberts: And if it’s anybody’s interested, I’ve got the Agile Wars white paper which I can make available and people can have a copy of that and they could. Read a bit more on that if that help.
00:57:23 Sevcan Yasa: And we have another question. We are actually going through a lot of the questions, but I don’t think we’ll have time for each one.
00:57:33 Sevcan Yasa: But there’s an interesting question for someone first learning about agile. Are there any key readings you can recommend?
00:57:40 Barbara Roberts: Oh gosh. There are. There are some good webinars, obviously excluding this one, there’s a few out there that I recommend. Have a look at uh, you know webinar describing what scrum does, what. I could try, what we could try and do, perhaps KRC we could recommend some presentations or webinars. Ones that are sort of useful rather than dogmatic or evangelical. About my Agile’s better than your Agile.
00:58:15 Barbara Roberts: Perhaps that’s that’s an an action we could take for afterwards, Sev, if you could make a note could ever think about that, yeah?
00:58:22 Sevcan Yasa: Uhm we have an interesting one. Actually, the difference between PRINCE2 and Agile.
00:58:29 Barbara Roberts: OK, PRINCE2 was the old-fashioned way of defining a project. And in itself, in essence, there’s nothing wrong with PRINCE2. The thing the problem I have with PRINCE2 is some of the people that use it because it was never designed or written to be used as a weapon.
00:58:46 Barbara Roberts: But some of the people, some of the project managers apply PRINCE2 apply it like a weapon. So you can use PRINCE2 with any of the agile approaches, provided you treat each release if you like as a stage. You don’t treat each time box each sprint as a stage. If you look at something like Agile with PRINCE that was PRINCE with Agile sort of put over the top of it. The difference between that and say, AgilePM is AgilePM was written with agile at the heart from the start. It was written from we are doing agile. What does an agile project look like? And there’s nothing in there that is anti PRINCE. If you want to make each release a PRINCE stage, that’s absolutely fine, but you need to be thinking agile all the way through because I spend quite a lot of my time coaching project managers, programme managers helping them come away from the traditional style of thinking to understand that managing an agile project is not about relinquishing control it’s about letting the team organise themselves, but making sure that they and you understand where the boundaries are.
00:59:59 Barbara Roberts: Empowerment doesn’t mean do whatever you like. It’s quite the opposite, and the reality is in a well-run agile team or a well-run agile project the discipline and the professionalism is often quite a lot higher than in a traditional project where you can get away with murder till about 5 minutes to midnight when it all comes home. In Agile you can’t get away with that, not if it’s done properly.
01:00:25 Sevcan Yasa: Next question, what if a project using Agile cannot finish with the original budget? We’re going to spend more and more unlimitedly.
01:00:34 Barbara Roberts: We’re not talking about ages while we’re here, no, I probably won’t get into that one. Mike, well, is it an agile project, you said?
01:00:44 Sevcan Yasa: If a project using agile. So, yeah.
01:00:45 Barbara Roberts: Yeah. So, if it’s an agile project, so my first question is I would need to talk about what was your original plan like and what was your contingency because if you haven’t prioritised, if you’ve basically gone into this with more requirements, not enough room to negotiate. If you’ve gone for 95%, must-have requirements and you fixed time, cost and quality, then you’re at high risk unless you’re in a very, very, incredibly stable well performing team in a stable environment.
01:01:14 Barbara Roberts: So, we normally reckon on 6 no more than 60% effort on your must-have requirements and about 20 sort of about 40% on your shoulds and could something like that. Then we can fix time, cost and quality and negotiate features. If you don’t build in enough contingency, and when we talk about cost we are talking about the over the headcount count cost, not your your expenditure. Not buying new software and stuff. It’s something we need to know a bit more about, but it’s some if you want to send me a little bit more detail I can try and have a think about why that might have happened. And certainly it’s something that when you you know if you’re stopping it.
01:01:55 Barbara Roberts: If you can’t finish it, then you would need to do a retrospective and look at what went wrong with your planning. Because if you didn’t build in enough contingency, and it’s a big project then you were highly at risk from the start, and agile isn’t going to take it. Doesn’t make risk go away, it just gives you different risks to deal with.
01:02:14 Barbara Roberts: If people refuse to drop requirements when you come down to it, and I’ve had that with a contractual project, the customer asked for agile and when I said OK, we need to drop something he said I didn’t want that bit. I wanted the the quicker delivery. I want to deliver on on time on cost on budget but I didn’t know I had to drop stuff and you think, well, we did explain that.
01:02:35 Barbara Roberts: So, it’s making sure you’ve got a good working relationship. And something like the Project Approach Questionnaire and AgilePM gives you a very good starter to work out the relationship of what you’re building at the beginning of an agile project. Very useful for that to get a gut feel for is this going to be a good one or is this going to be really hard work? Or is this actually far too risky to do even trying to use that agile.
01:03:00 Sevcan Yasa: I think we’ll answer one more question just in the meantime, I am going to put up a little feedback just to understand whether you like the webinar, et cetera.
01:03:10 Sevcan Yasa: So, the last question is, what would you recommend to keep tabs site of all the different agile projects in the public sector organisation so as to avoid duplication?
01:03:22 Barbara Roberts: You need basically you above the projects you need agile programme management, you need agile portfolio management. You literally need the the layers of corporate strength agile. If you’re interested at the strategic level the Agile portfolio management is not an approach. It gives you a lot of good guidance and it would help for example a portfolio PMO at the portfolio level to help help keep track, but you know what you’ve got in a complex organisation.
01:03:51 Barbara Roberts: You’ve got projects run running under programmes, so we need to set the programmes up as an agile way of working so that you can drill down to whatever level you want to look at. If you’re at a strategic level, you might want to look at the programme level.
01:04:07 Barbara Roberts: If you’re at the programme level, you want to dip into the projects, but you need a way of sort of subsuming all these up into some sort of dashboard that people can quickly easily get the transparency that they need so they can go see for themselves.
01:04:23 Sevcan Yasa: Yep, perfect, thank you so much for that. If you do have any more questions, you can always e-mail Barbara. I’m sure she’ll be more than happy to help you.
01:04:32 Barbara Roberts: Well, I’ll do my best within reason.
01:04:34 Sevcan Yasa: Yeah, of course.
01:04:37 Sevcan Yasa: I can see some of you giving some feedback which is always great. So thank you everyone for joining. And once you finish the feedback, you’re welcome to leave.
01:04:50 Barbara Roberts: Will I get a copy of the chat? Can I get a copy of the chat service? Well come and see.
01:04:56 Sevcan Yasa: Of course, of course yes, definitely.
01:04:58 Barbara Roberts: Because I saw Andrew recommended you know lots of KRC yeah, webinars and things as well. Which would be useful. I don’t look at those obviously I don’t look at the website to see what what webinar I can watch.
01:05:33 Sevcan Yasa: Certainly receiving positive feedback, which is always great.
01:05:40 Barbara Roberts: And I’ll, I’ll send across a copy of the Agile Wars white paper if you want to share that on the website as well.
01:05:49 Sevcan Yasa: Yeah, that would be great.
01:06:11 Barbara Roberts: OK. Yes, it’s somebody’s asked my e-mail address. It’s on the it’s on the slides, so as soon as you send the handouts out my e-mail address, I think it’s on my introduction slide. Yeah, if not, you can find me on LinkedIn.
01:06:37 Sevcan Yasa: The agile resources which agile resources are you exactly talking about? Is it the one that Barbara mentioned?
01:06:53 Barbara Roberts: I think there’s two lots on there. There’s there’s ones that I can send over and then Andrew mentioned some resources on the KRC website as well, which is probably the best place for the the agile stuff.
01:07:04 Sevcan Yasa: Yep, I will send everyone both, so both on the AgileKRC and the and the the things Barbara will send to me. I will most probably send either today or tomorrow. So, you should have everything accessed by tomorrow.
01:07:31 Barbara Roberts: It’s obviously not easy when you’ve got everything from. I don’t know anything about agile, so I’m an expert, so I was trying to cover.
01:07:39 Sevcan Yasa: Yes, I will e-mail e-mail about this e-mail.
01:07:43 Barbara Roberts: Can I if I send the message, will it? Come on the chat.
01:07:45 Sevcan Yasa: It should do, yeah.
01:07:48 Barbara Roberts: Put my name right.
01:07:51 Sevcan Yasa: But I will also include it in the e-mail.
01:07:57 Barbara Roberts: See, I spelled my name wrong again. Too many A’s.
01:08:30 Sevcan Yasa: I think that should be fine for now. I see, few people are typing.
01:08:38 Barbara Roberts: There’s still a few online then.
01:08:39 Sevcan Yasa: Yeah.
01:08:53 Barbara Roberts: Should we use my KRC e-mail but I can never remember it
01:09:00 Sevcan Yasa: I can always send them by, should be fine.
01:09:03 Barbara Roberts: Well, I was checked the other one anyway. More regularly goes to see it on my phone so.
01:09:27 Sevcan Yasa: OK, I think that should be it. Thank you everyone for. See if there’s any other questions you can ignore my.. thanks Andrew.
01:09:36 Barbara Roberts: You’re not, you’re not saving difficult questions till last are you Andrew?
01:09:57 Sevcan Yasa: OK, I think that should be it for now. So thank you everyone for joining. Thank you so much Barbara for joining.
01:10:06 Sevcan Yasa: Really enjoyed the presentation and I’m sure a lot of people did as well as you. I can see from the feedback. So, thank you so much. So, it’s going to end it now.
01:10:22 Barbara Roberts: So, we stay on.
01:10:23 Sevcan Yasa: Or you can just exit. It’s gonna end it now, so everyone will actually be kicked out. Bye everyone.
01:10:30 Barbara Roberts: Bye.
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